What Salespeople Can Learn From Customer Service Reps

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Selling a product or service involves more than just getting a customer to sign on the dotted line or hand over a credit card. Sometimes referred to as the “selling and forgetting” syndrome, salespeople are often accused of breaking down the sales process into minute, detailed steps, and faithfully following these steps to get the sale. But after that, the process breaks down–and they tend to forget that there’s a person behind the dollar sign.

But salespeople really aren’t to blame. In part, selling and forgetting is due to the compensation structure businesses set up for their sales team. If your business rewards (read: compensates) salespeople based on how many signatures or transactions they can get, there’s little incentive to go beyond snagging the sale.

Your sales staff can greatly improve their results and boost revenue by taking some cues from the customer service team.

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Learning from customer service

It’s not just that salespeople can learn a skill set from customer service people. They can actually learn a great deal about the process of taking care of a customer and the problems customers may have by learning how customer service reps interact with clients.

Here are a few examples:

  • Listening. Customer service people are great at listening to customers. A great customer care rep will listen attentively to a customer’s problem before being able to come up with a solution. With great listening skills, the service rep will be able to figure out how to meet that customer’s needs.
  • Empathizing. The customer service team has to empathize with customers, and they’re often handling agitated, irate clients who have run out of patience. In responding to these clients, the team has to have empathy, and talk these customers down from the ledge, so to speak. Sometimes, customers just want to be acknowledged and get an apology. Empathy lets them know that you care. When a salesperson learns these skills, customers are less resistant to selling tactics, and they’re more receptive to interacting with someone who treats them with empathy.
  • Under-selling. Salespeople tend to “oversell,” or rather, focus squarely on selling, missing the person behind the sale. Customer care reps have to nurture customers after the sale and deal with their real-life problems. Learning to act like a salesperson who’s not just interested in a one-off sale helps nurture and engage customers, as well as increase brand loyalty. Loyal customers who trust your business will be open to cross-selling and up-selling tactics.

When your entire team—from salespeople to customer care reps—sees customers as people your business wants to help, instead of just a dollar sign, you’ll turn the customer-business relationship upside-down. Instead of shallow relationships that create one-time customers, you’ll create a steady stream of loyal, repeat buyers.

When was the last time your sales team spent an hour—or a day—behind the customer service desk? What do you think your team could learn from listening, empathizing, and under-selling?