Placing Service Ahead of Sales: A Way to Increase Your Reoccurring Revenue

Image courtesy of LendingMemo's photostream

Image courtesy of LendingMemo’s photostream

You’re calling on a new customer… do you lead with sales or service? Obviously, you want the sale, especially if you work on 100% commission. But, are we missing the art of providing customer service at the point of the sale?

Do you find out what the customer actually needs, or do you lead in with the stuff that has the highest profit margin? I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they actually need it, right? But, can you sell someone something they don’t even need just because they’ll buy it?

I speak to people every day who say to me, “I’m glad you stopped by because our previous vendor won’t return my phone call.” Really? Good for them, they must be making loads of dough.

I’m not talking about customer service after you’ve purchased something. I’m talking about customer service while you’re in the process of selling. Do you find out how the customer will use your product or service before they get it? Do you really care if they’re successful with it? What problems did they have before? What are their expectations about how your product or service makes them FEEL? After all, sales is emotional. Are you getting the emotion you hoped for?

This old statistic still rings true today: 80% of companies think they’re delivering great service, but when you ask their customers, only about 8% agree. Wonder what the statistic is regarding satisfaction with our sales approach? Do we as salespeople think we’re in the 80th percentile and our customers think we’re at 8%?

Products and services used to be differentiated on price, quality and delivery. For the most part, that’s still true. But, that’s not sustainable anymore. When everything else is equal, what separates you from everyone else?

It’s service. We all know it. Out of the last 10 sales you made, how many times did you follow-up after the sale to see how it went? Find out what worked, what didn’t? Was your client successful? Did they get the return on investment (ROI) you promised? How can you make it better next time? Or, do you just reach out to them when it’s time for the next sale?

Take Harley-Davidson. They’ve been in business for over 100 years. They aren’t a monopoly; they have competition. But they’re sustainable because they have a great product that’s passed the test of time. And, they consistently deliver on service.

Let’s take my theory one step further. What do you do when things go wrong? If you resell a product, you represent that company, too. Whatever happens, it’s all you. Everybody makes mistakes, too; we’re all human. Not a problem, because that isn’t the point. It’s how you recover from those mistakes that set you apart from the rest.

Do you ignore it, hope they didn’t catch it? Do you send an email and apologize? Do you call and leave a message? Or, do you call but wait as long as it takes to actually speak to your client? Better yet, do you meet with them face-to-face to discuss the issue? The way you react to a problem speaks volumes about your company and about you. If you recover successfully, most often you’ll have that customer for life. We all know most customers leave because of poor service. We can’t control everything, but we can control our behavior.

So, should sales be about service first? How would the process work? Do you determine how your client prefers to communicate, what method to use and its frequency throughout the process?  What are their expectations, exactly? Do they want post-implementation analysis? Can you truly deliver on everything you’re saying you can?

Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles, they sell an experience. An experience is an interaction between you and your client.

What’s your next experience with a client going to be like? Are you going to incorporate service into the sale? Maybe that’s where the revenue stream is because if you provide great service upfront, during the sale, you’re creating loyalty after the sale.  Another name for that is reoccurring revenue.

I’d like to hear about your sales experiences and what you think about the article. Reach me on LinkedIn! 

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