Sales people are forever making promises and service people always let them down. We need to remember how much we need each other or we will all go broke!
Sales: The Land of Promises
Have you ever worked in sales and had to work with the service department to keep customers satisfied with your post-sales support?
I have been in sales for a number of years. I learned, sometimes the hard way, just how much I needed the service department’s support in order to be successful. Here are just a few things that can make a world if difference:
- Product knowledge;
- Interpersonal skills;
- Technical skills.
And those are just a few.
When I was designing small to medium business technology solutions, I would often spend time with technicians in the service department bouncing ideas off them before making a pitch to a client. That feedback prevented me from embarrassing myself or them in the eyes of the client.
The salesperson is the public face of the company. They are expected to:
- Identify need;
- Clarify need by asking probing questions;
- Handle objections;
- Help client make a buying decision.
It’s when this process breaks down that the land of broken promises starts to develop. One unanswered or unasked question at a time.
Land of Broken Promises
In an ideal world, the service department is your before and after sales support that gives you good decision making information before the sale and then keeps the customer satisfied with your solution after the sale.
When we land in Broken Promises, it’s usually because of at least one of these things:
- Bad technical information;
- Poor Communication;
- Unexpected problems during delivery;
- Unrealistic expectations;
Information and Communication
Bad technical information isn’t necessarily the fault of your technical/service support. You may not have asked the right questions or truly understood what the client needed. You need to ask enough questions that the client almost starts to become annoyed. Then you have to do the same to your technical/service support people!
It’s better to have a client tell you they are not willing to go through the pain to achieve their objective, or a technician to tell you your plan won’t work, than you have to go through the pain of resolving a conflict with the risk of having an unsatisfied client out there telling everyone their experience. It takes 10 client success stories to make up for the one that got away!
Unexpected problems are usually the result of not asking enough questions. There could be a mixture of generations of technology and the client forgot how old something was but it is an important part of their business. This caused a problem with your solution but guess what? You’re the professional. You are supposed to know everything. At least, that’s what the client believes.
Clients may have unrealistic expectations. You did such a great job “selling” your solution, they expect it to solve all their problems without a hitch. This is a good place to pre-handle objections. For example, I had a client ask me if I could I could guarantee they would never have a problem with me or my company. My response was that this is a long term relationship and I can guarantee that we will face a challenge at some time. The difference is that I won’t hide from or run from a problem. Note earlier I used the word challenge? There is no such thing as a problem!
Set expectations up front. How will cost be handled? Build in a bumper and be clear it’s to allow for the unexpected. Oops! I guess that’s expected now. Be clear that you are willing to face up to disagreements as long as they are handled with respect, and so on.
Dishonesty is a real problem. Many times it’s the client that is guilty. They knew about a potential challenge but hoped it wouldn’t show up. Out of embarrassment, they may try to transfer the guilt to you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. If you made a mistake, own it and ask forgiveness while proposing a solution that shouldn’t really cost your client. If it’s the client, don’t apologize but recognize this is one of those “challenges” you expected you might face. Offer a way for the client to save face with as little cost to them as possible.
The Land of Broken Promises is a horrible place. Try your best to stay out of there and help your team support people stay there with you. You are the leader. Lead!
Make it a great day,
P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for great clients. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn. What are you thankful for today?