Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sales through Service

I've been talking to a few companies lately about training programs, and one of the factors that often comes up is paradoxical - that they need to sell more without selling.

For example, service staff in an insurance call centre need to provide support services, but since the insurer makes money out of those services, there's a sales target involved. If their staff focus on making the 'sale' by getting the customer to agree to having the services, which are free to the customer, then the customer could begin to feel pushed and accuse the advisor of 'ambulance chasing'. But if they don't sell, they don't make money.

In another company, a contract catering supplier, restaurant staff need to sell more but the host companies don't want their staff feeling 'sold at'. Not to mention that selling more means getting people to eat more, not exactly a message which fits with their 'healthy' brand image.

The solution in both of these cases is one of the most important things that you'll find when modelling excellence - that the intended output isn't the same thing as the intended outcome.

In short, sales results should never be the focus of attention - they should be the measure by which the right focus is judged. For example, the focus for the contract caterer should be on providing excellence in customer care. When customers enjoy and value the service that they receive, they'll visit the restaurant more often and spend more money. Sales are the result, not the aim. Sales figures are a measure of how well the staff take care of their customers.

For the insurers, demonstrating genuine care and reassurance is what will encourage customers to accept the services offered. Sales results are therefore the measure of how well staff provide that reassurance, not how well they 'sell'.

This doesn't just apply to sales, there are many other measurement criteria which become confused with the activities which lead to those outputs.

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