Is There Much of a Difference Between Customer Service and Sales? by Jim Morack
In my experience, I have found one truism in the customer service and sales arena: That those who were excellent in Sales were also excellent in Customer Service; and that those who were excellent in Customer Service were also excellent in Sales.
Could there be a good reason why?
Let’s get right down to basics. What is the definition of providing great Customer Service? It is about listening to what the customer needs and providing a solution.
And what is the definition of being a great Salesperson? It is about listening to what the customer needs and providing a solution.
Most people think that sales is this ram-facts/benefits-about-how-great-my-product-or-service-is-down-your-throat-type business, wear you down, then get you to take out your wallet and buy something. Where customer service is this kiss booty, make nice, use empathy, apologize, and smile-until-your-face-hurts profession.
Not anymore! Customers and businesses are much wiser and demanding now. Great customer service MUST lie at the heart of EVERY successful business transaction. And not just for today, but every time a customer needs to deal with us.
Good selling means providing great customer service. Whenever I listen to a ‘sales pitch’ I am also looking deeper into the person and the company they represent. Do they have integrity, a passion for their product/service, belief in their company and its values, a desire to make our relationship win-win, confidence, and will they support me when I need them?
Good customer service means providing great selling/re-selling. Whenever I need assistance or have a problem, do I hear someone answer the phone that is committed to serving me, is a GREAT listener, affirms and acknowledges me, understands the issue, empathizes where appropriate, re-sells me the value of what I bought, and solves my problem?
When you combine all those attributes and characteristics into one person, they will either be your best salesperson or best customer service person.
I understand most companies keep these two groups separate to allow the salespeople to focus on new business development and generating revenue, and the customer service group to play the support/retention role. Makes perfect sense. My point is that both groups – when properly trained – can partner in ways that make their company strong, reputable, and welcomed in the marketplace. They are singing the same song; just different parts!
I truly understand that salespeople also have unique skills that enable them to prospect, navigate the oftentimes and inevitable waters of negotiation and counterpoints, and know when it is time to take a step back to take a step forward. Similarly, I know customer service people need to be gifted with patience, a sense of urgency in resolving issues, the ability to effectively research, and must sometimes deliver a difficult result.
There is no doubt – we want our salespeople selling and our customer service people servicing. But by hiring the right people to sell for us who have great core service beliefs, and by hiring the right people who resell our company after a poor experience with a smile, we will grow our customer base, gain referrals, and be more confident sending our salespeople into the marketplace to close deals.
At the end of the day we are all about people and how to serve them best. Both our customers AND our employees/coworkers. Again, whether sales or service, we must listen to what our customer needs and provide them with solutions.