Men at desk working

Customer Service in Sales

Eight years. Eight years is how long I worked in customer service. Where did that experience take me? It led to a position in sales; at an outsourced sales company, Acquirent. Acquirent has given me the tools to not only thrive in the role of a salesperson but also to immerse myself completely in the company’s culture. Aside from the sales training courses that Acquirent offers to all employees, we are also encouraged to run our own discussion workshops, allowing us to share our passion for a range of topics with the rest of the team. After meeting with two co-workers of mine, Jack and Jamila, we quickly decided that customer service skills are a key factor in Acquirent’s success, and that having a workshop on customer service skills would benefit those around us and spark new ideas. Those eight years of customer service experience paid off in planning the workshop, and I loved the opportunity to share a few tips I picked up along the way.

So, what exactly is customer service? To understand it, you must also be aware of what it is not. Customer service is not a place like a counter in the back of a store. Customer service is not a person waiting to supply you with a refund. Customer service is not someone on the other end of a telephone ready to take down a formal complaint. To put it simply, customer service is the service experience that customers receive before, during and after a purchase, and it is incredibly important in the field of sales.

To be a customer service-oriented salesperson, you must get into the mindset that you are working with someone, not against them. If you become too pushy with a prospect from the get-go, often they will lose interest in what you are selling and form a negative opinion of you and the brand you represent. Think of yourself as a consultant. Go into every conversation with the intent to help the prospect, not sell them. This builds trust – it shows that you care – and prospects don’t even realize they are being carefully led to a sale. All you did was help them!

That being said, not every person you talk to will have the most positive attitude. Through practicing exemplary customer service, you learn the importance of being patient and having the ability to “read” people. Disney trains their customer service employees on five key components to handling issues: listen, empathize, apologize, resolve and diagnose. In sales, the ability to empathize with your prospect is invaluable. When you empathize with a customer, they are more inclined to accept an apology from you when sticky situations arise. It is incredibly important to understand your prospect’s pain before attempting to diagnose and solve their problem.

The key to empathizing effectively is active listening. Rephrasing what prospects say back to them lets them know that you not only hear them but also understanding their problem on a deeper level. Diagnosing a bad experience allows you to get to the bottom of the issue, to fix it, and then to make sure that issue won’t happen again. As salespeople, solving an issue is not the only roadblock – you need to make sure that that person will be a repeat customer and be left with a positive impression of you, the company you represent, and the product/service that you are selling.

Remembering that you are the true face of the company you represent should be at the forefront of your mind in every sales interaction. No matter how difficult a situation is, you must remember that you may be your client’s the only point of contact at your company, and it is, therefore, imperative that you consistently leave them with a positive impression; no matter how dicey the conversation gets. Using skills related to good customer service enables you to clearly communicate with your prospects, represent your brand well, and resolve all issues that may arise in an efficient manner.

All in all, the link between customer service and sales enables you to focus more on solving customer’s problems and less on “selling” them. As salespeople, we are tasked with producing growth. However, being mindful of the way we interact with people and the impression we leave is just as important as closing deals.  Begin and end every conversation on a positive note!