Let us say you are six years old. You have just set up your very first lemonade stand. It is hot and sunny outside and there you are: lemonade, plastic cups and a money jar with a crooked, cutely scribbled sign advertising refreshment for only 25 cents a glass. Your mom knows your cuteness alone will earn you much more than just quarters.
But then the unexpected happens: a complaint! Some adult with more nerve than heart decides he should introduce you to the harsh reality of the business world.
“Who made this lemonade?” he asks with a phony smile. You reply, “Me and my mommy made it.” “Oh!” he says. “Well tell your mommy the lemonade could use a little work, and the cups are a little sticky.” He rolls his eyes and leaves you a quarter.
Hopefully, you have never been this man. But the point is, many who are in business just start selling and never give thought to service or quality associated with sales until the unfortunate occurs. They just set up the lemonade stand and begin.
The sale is about the exchange; it is where you get the quarters. But service is about the experience and how the sale is made, plus the promises that the customer can depend on, should their expectations not be satisfied. Are the plastic cups clean? What if I don’t like the lemonade? And, of course, are refills free?
There are three aspects to every sale:
- Price – Affects the possibility of the sale. Is 25 cents reasonable for a glass of lemonade? Am I willing to pay for it?
- Quality – Affects the security of a sale. Does the lemonade taste good? Do I want to keep drinking it? Do I want my quarter back?
- Service – Affects the possibility of repeat business; it is foundational for growth and word-of-mouth success? Did I enjoy being served this sticky, plastic cup full of potent lemonade by a child? Do I want another glass? Would I recommend it to others?
Now let’s focus on service. Service is defined as:
- work done for a client other than manufacturing,
- advice given to clients during and after the sale of goods, and
- the action of helping or doing work for a client.
Plainly, service is a large part of the sales transaction; so sales & service must go hand in hand. If you are only mindful of the sale, shortly afterward, service will chase you down and demand your attention.
Apple, the computer company, just reported its best quarterly earnings and revenue in its history. Apple sold 2,319,000 computers and 22,121,000 iPods throughout 2014 and 2,315,000 iPhones in its most recent quarter.
Now, how many customer service representatives do you need to hire when you have sold approximately 26 million new products? Is it fair to assume that each of those clients is going to have a question sooner or later?
Who is going to answer the phone? Will these individuals be waiting on hold for two or three hours for customer support?
How long will it take to get your product repaired should it need fixing?
Do you see it? Sales & service—you can’t have one without the other.
Make Service Part of Your Sales Plan
With every sale you generate, ask yourself, “How will I be expected to service this client?”
- If you imagine your customer will need to place a call to your company, make sure there is a phone number your customer can call that actually has someone answering the phone.
- If you foresee the possibility that a product you sold may need a repair, prepare for the repair. Be ready to walk your customer through the appropriate steps to a successful repair.
Remember, when you “fail to plan, you plan to fail!”
Service First, Sales Second
The strongest companies realize that the sale is like the honeymoon, but the service is like the marriage. If you want a customer to stay committed to you, you must put your best efforts into the marriage.
The phrase “service first, sales second” is simply a way to stress the order of importance. Put it into practice starting today. Choose to be exuberant about the way in which you serve your customers. Exuberant means to be filled with lively energy and excitement.
In conclusion, sales & service belong together. It really is unrealistic to imagine one without the other. Furthermore, both sales & service affect each other significantly. Trouble in one area could be a reflection of neglect in the other.
Take some time to analyze your current sales & service relationship. Commit to creating harmony and congruency between the two; it is a sure recipe for success.