We all work for sales
You interactions with a client can make or break a deal. Here, Pete Baker explores how to deliver an exceptional customer experience at every opportunity.
I was recently alerted to the following business mantra: “We all work for sales.”
A friend of mine recounted how he would tell his staff: “You don’t work for accounting, for media relations or tech support; every one of us works for sales.”
Here, I will illustrate why this way of thinking is more than just a catchy phrase, it’s the recipe for success in today’s market. In a sales landscape where you’re competing with businesses like Amazon, with huge customer service departments at their disposal, how will you stand out?
The answer: by having every member of your team approaching their work like they are the person responsible for delivering an exceptional customer (pre and post) “sales” experience.
A tale of two customer experiences
I want to begin by contrasting a couple of personal experiences I’ve had as a customer recently. The first experience centres on my desire for a certain, unspecified brand of tablet. This brand had just come out with its newest model and I was in the market to upgrade to the newer version.
So, I embarked to the nearest mall to the brand’s store. As I approached the store front, I was instructed to stand on a piece of tape in line, courtesy of COVID-19, regardless of my full vaccination. After standing in line for 15 minutes, I approached the front and I was asked: “What brings you to the store today?” I reply, “I would like to buy a new tablet”. I am asked several questions about which specific tablet I am interested in buying. I answer each of the questions and was then asked: “Do you have an appointment?” I respond: “no, I don’t, I was just interested in purchasing the new tablet. Is there anyone here who can answer some basic questions I have about your newest model?”
The employee stated that I would need an appointment to speak with anyone, or to purchase the tablet. This seemed very odd, especially since I noticed many employees unencumbered with other customers, who likely could have answered some questions. In addition to the fact that many of the available employees had card readers in their possession to process the sale and hand me the device without ever entering the store.
Instead, I was turned away and told I could order the device online, which doesn’t help with the questions that remained about the new model. They lost an opportunity to make a sale, and help a loyal customer, all because I didn’t have an appointment.
Regardless, I left the store and jumped on my phone to schedule an appointment at the next closest store – about 30 minutes away. At the second store, I went through a similar experience waiting in line for 15 minutes and answering the same series of questions again. I was then instructed to wait in the store, until someone “found me” to answer my questions, even though I had an appointment scheduled.
After 20 minutes of waiting in the store, I approached an employee and asked if they were familiar with the features of the newest tablet. The worker replied that they were not. I pointed to another group of employees chatting with each other and asked if they could answer my questions:
“No, they’re in technical department.”
“What about that person?”
“No, that’s a manager.”
“What about this person?”
“No, that’s another manager.”
After this exchange, I was asked (again) by this employee if I had and appointment and what was my email address to confirm that I had the appointment. Once verified that I had an appointment, I was told to “go stand over by the tablets and wait for someone to find you”. I did as instructed and was eventually approached by an employee to discuss the tablets, only to find out that they had none in stock and it would be best for me to order it online, rather than place an order in the store.
Contrast that experience with the following…
A week or so later, I’m doing some cleaning and I run across some pants that I purchased a while ago and unfortunately washed before I tried them on, only to discover that they were way too big. I decided to visit the store to see if they had any options available for me to exchange the pants for a different size – even with some form of re-stocking fee.
Upon arrival at the store, I was greeted by two employees, who said: “Welcome to Eddie Bauer, how can we help you today?” I state my predicament with the pants and ask if they have any options available for me to exchange the pants for a different size. The employees are more than happy to assist me. In fact, as one employee is processing the refund, the other is searching online for the size (since they did not have my size available in the store).
They refund the original purchase price of the pants to me, add a clearance tag to the pants and place them on a sale rack, then ordered the new pants to be sent directly to my home address with free shipping. I was blown away. There was zero reluctance, or impression that this was a nuisance for them, just exceptional customer service. Every part of the interaction was designed to be helpful, courteous, and most important for them, retain and delight a customer. The system was set up to work together to make a quality sale.
Getting your team in the right mindset
So how can you apply this to your business? Well, the most common mistake I see businesses make in this regard is that they completely segregate their departments. Of course, a business has its sales and customer service departments, and those are their customer-facing departments.
The rest of the company though, can often feel like they’re in their own little worlds. From the engineers and tech support to finance and human relations, it can feel like they are simply departments unto themselves. This can be an incredibly damaging mindset to fall into. In the worst case scenarios some departments can assume an attitude of the customer is a nuisance – this dynamic is often referred to as the “Sales Prevention Department”.
Ultimately, sales drive the bus. That isn’t to say the sales team drives the bus but rather, actual sales transactions and customers. Much of this plays out in the everyday interactions of the customer facing parts of the company. But what people often don’t realise is: the companies that succeed are the ones that bring all their departments together under the one goal of selling their product and delighting their customers who do business with them. If every member of every team in your company is focused on how their actions can bring in more sales, imagine the difference that could mean for your business income, stability, and future success.
If this all still sounds a little theoretical, let me bring it down to a practical level. Take my experience at the tablet store. I went in there, prepared to buy and, because their workers were so segregated into their specific roles, I was forced to invest several hours and drive time to just have a few product questions answered.
If instead, they had everyone who worked at this store, manager, technical teams or the like, “working for sales” they would have been prepared to give me the lowdown on their hottest new products. They lost business that day because the whole store wasn’t operating as a cohesive sales force.
You can implement this frame of mind in your business, whether you operate a bricks-and-mortar retail shop, integration company, restaurant, or a kangaroo zoo! Having your whole company operating as if they work for sales, provides them with a common goal, and a great goal at that.
Sales are what gives your company life – don’t let that goal be forgotten or left behind in a disjointed bureaucracy. Get your team working together and make some BIG money!