Foreword Online

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Customer Service Vs. Sales. Your Customers Want to Be Sold!

Posted by Jason Smallheer on 1/10/17 5:30 AM
Topics: college retail, sales strategies, customer service

You walk into a retail environment and you meet one of two types of people: the customer service professional or the sales professional. Which ones work in your store? Which do you prefer? How can you have the best of both worlds?Customer Service Vs. Sales. Your Customers Want to Be Sold!

I went to my local cell phone store when I was considering making a change and was quickly greeted by a young man, who right out of the box said, “Are you here for new service?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I have some questions about your plan options.”

“Put your name on this list,” he said. “A customer service rep right with you.”

This is a sales person. He is probably compensated on commission, and every second he spoke to me when I didn’t buy anything was money out of his pocket. He sells, he makes money. Period. The customer service representative gave me brochures, answered questions and sent me on my way, never asking me if I wanted to do business with her company. So I didn’t. I went with another carrier.

I wanted customer service AND to be sold. As customers, we want to be sold. It confirms we are making the right decision based on our needs. Former Apple® CEO Steve Jobs once said, "Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves." 

There are key differences between sales professionals and customer service professionals: 


  • Bring new customers? Yes 
  • Have sales targets? Yes 
  • Happy customer target? Not exactly 

Customer Service

  • Bring new customers? No
  • Have sales targets? Not always
  • Happy customer target? Yes

One of the key differentiators is the “bring new customers” characteristic. The customer service professional often isn’t “required” to bring in new business. They are responsible for answering my questions and keeping me happy. The sales professionals have the sales goals.

What if your people did both? What if they greeted, assisted with course materials selection, recommended extra supplies or spirit wear, ran the POS and walked the customer to the door? It’s not a fantasy. It starts with you ensuring your employees understand your goals, your business and the value they bring to the team. There are five keys to selling for the first-time sales representative, and at no point does anyone mutter the words, “What do I have to do to make a deal today.”

In your store, there are a lot of customer service professionals. They are valuable and carry needed skills. However, at the end of the day, you are looking at numbers comparing days, months, quarters and years, and often trying to find solutions to generate more revenue. If an atmosphere is created with the goal of making money FIRST, your customer will know it. Think about going to a car lot. When you create a culture based on filling a need or providing a benefit to your customers using your products or services, you will see the results you are looking for on your spreadsheet.

During job interviews, Bath & Body Works asks its candidates to explain the difference between selling and servicing. While the company wants to ensure all customer questions are answered, they also understand the financial impact of having customers shop elsewhere. A candidate for a customer service job may be asked questions about handling complaints while a sales candidate may be challenged with a process to overcome objections.

Teach your employees, model the same behaviors, go through the process together and enjoy the ride.


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