In our last Sales blog post, we defined ‘selling’ as convincing people to buy and discussed how the people who are good at convincing people to buy should spend most of their time doing that and nothing else! This has interesting implications when it comes to taking care of your customers.
Very often, when Goldratt UK works with organisations, the Sales department is responsible for identifying new opportunities and new products or services that are not currently being offered – but this is not selling! Finding good, new opportunities is Marketing. Also, what we often find is that once Salespeople have successfully convinced a client to buy (and this is selling!), they are then the contact that the client knows and likes. This means that they are the obvious candidate to field any post-sale questions or issues. What’s more, Salespeople often feel responsible for their customers. After all, they are the person who brought this client in; they were the ones to make promises and commitments to these people. It is only natural they have a vested interest in how well their organisation takes care of those customers.
However, taking care of those customers – dealing with questions and requests, or dealing with after-sales care – is also not selling; this is Customer Service or Account Management. So, this leads to a real issue… A good Salesperson will bring on many more new customers over the upcoming weeks and months. This means the business will have many new clients, and many new orders. This is great; however, if all of these new customers need to be serviced by your good Salesperson, suddenly the amount of time and capacity they have to dedicate to securing further sales dwindles towards zero. Furthermore to the capacity question, is a Salesperson really the best choice to field a Customer Service issue? Definitely not. Salespeople don’t have the same level of technical and process knowledge that the internal tech/customer support would have; they are also ‘supposed’ to be distracted from current customers by new opportunities to close. However, unless opportunities are handed over to elsewhere in the business they will remain with Salespeople. Sales will always be the first point of contact when a customer has a query or a problem, and they won’t want to let the customer go unless they are asked to.
It is not an obvious thing to recognise, but it is a simple thing to fix. Add a step to your sales process. Upon the completion of a sale, include a handover from Sales to your other more capable resources to meet the ongoing needs of the customer. This should be someone with the capability to field phone calls, manage subsequent order-taking (also not selling…) and answer questions on deliveries/transportation timings/invoices etc. This is a very valuable skill, but not something our Salespeople should be spending their time on. This way you can maintain high levels of sales activity and make sure your business is taking care of an ever-growing number of customers and accounts.
This becomes even more useful when you consider growth. As more and more customers get taken on, you will need more and more Customer Service capability, but if you are set up so that the Salesperson is shouldering this responsibility, you will end up hiring the ‘wrong’ person. If you do not handover Customer Service activities from Sales, then the volume of new accounts will fill up a Salesperson’s schedule and you will run out of Sales capacity. You will then hire an additional Salesperson, when what you really need is additional Customer Service capacity. So, this handover becomes doubly important as it will help you to identify where you need to increase capacity when the Sales team successfully bring in more and more new accounts.
There is plenty of detail here, but at the heart of all of this is specialisation. You want your Salespeople selling and you want good customer service being given by a good Customer Service department. Taking care of customers is a waste of time… for a Salesperson.
By Phil Snelgrove, Lauren Wiles