The Sales / Service Relationship

April 19th, 2016
Steven Howard


Many organizations segment their service function from their sales activities. I believe this is a mistake.

The closer you can entwine your service and sales activities, the more successful you are likely to be. After all, the customer rarely segments a sales activity from a service activity. To him or her, all your activities are service related!

The formula for weaving these two activities together is to:

  • Turn service opportunities into sales opportunities.
  • Use sales opportunities to provide efficient and appreciated service.

Another way of expressing this is: SALES = SERVICE = SUCCESS.

Some people like to argue that this expression should read “sales + service = success.” But that is where I disagree. That is the way of doing things today, with sales being one activity and service being another.

Changing your mindset to SALES = SERVICE = SUCCESS means you understand that success comes when there’s no segmentation between selling and service.

In today’s age of consultative selling, one of the best services your organization can provide is to sell a customer the right product at the right time that provides the right solution for his or her particular need. Now that is a true service. One that every customer is likely to appreciate.

People often ask me: “How do you know if a customer is satisfied?”

The simple, and best, answer is, “ask.”  Be proactive. Call and ask the customer:

“Did everything go as expected?”

“Have we delivered as promised?”

“Have we met your expectations?”

Staff should be encouraged to never be afraid of having to deal with problems. What if you do call up and there is a problem? Well, at least you are now aware of it, and you have an opportunity to fix the immediate problem — before it grows into something larger and more difficult to manage and rectify.

And by doing so, you not only show the customer that you care about them, but that you are also willing to make sure that they are completely satisfied — two concerns of customers that they will value highly.

Also, not following up always results in a missed selling opportunity.

When is the best time to start the next sales cycle?  Any time the customer is fully satisfied with you. So, if nothing has gone wrong and the customer is completely satisfied, that’s the ideal time to start working toward the next repeat order.

Or, once you’ve corrected any problems and have completely achieved customer satisfaction through your servicing efforts, you’re in an ideal position to start working toward the next sale.

The Golden Rule of Customer Retention: keep the customer completely satisfied, not just sold.

Remember the earlier equation:

Quality results in customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction results in repeat buys.

Repeat purchases lead to customer loyalty.

By weaving together your sales and service mindsets, and being proactive in your customer care efforts, you will achieve the customer loyalty levels you are seeking.

Marketing is not rocket science. In fact, marketing success really boils down to two key principles: understanding customer needs and delivering upon the promises the organization makes. You can achieve these two principles through a full understanding and implementation of the sales/service relationship.

Key Point: it is important to weave together your sales and service activities so that they appear seamless to the customer.

Taking Action: are your sales people capable of superior service? Are your service people capable of superior selling?  How can you fix any gaps that exist?

How can you make your staff more proactive in their customer care activities?

How can you inculcate the mantra SALES = SERVICE = SUCCESS throughout the organization?

What steps can you implement to keep your VIP customers completely satisfied, not just sold?

This article is excerpted from our book Powerful Marketing Memos, available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon.

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