If you sell services you know firsthand how difficult your job has always been.
Services are basically intangible and therefore potential customers cannot touch, feel or test the product before buying. Regardless how great the services may actually be, they are regularly viewed as simply the claims of zealous sales reps, rather than provable facts. To add insult to injury, even when the services are truly unique, or of much higher quality than the competitors; there’s nothing to keep those other guys from making the very same claims.
I’m sure by now you’re saying, “Doug, you’re right but I combat that with written and video testimonials, and trial offers that include money back guarantees.” That’s great, and those things certainly have their place, but often prospects use another metric that is regularly overlooked by the service provider. They judge the service by the person selling it.
I don’t mean just judging the seller as a person or as a sales professional that looks good and smells good. They judge the salesperson as the living personification of the service or product itself.
Sure, you’re selling the “features and benefits” of the technicians or installers who will be delivering the service. Maybe you’re touting your firm as the cutting provider in your field, or discussing the in-depth industry knowledge your company possesses. Perhaps it’s your responsiveness and ability to partner with your clients that gets stressed. Or perhaps it’s the efficiency you’re highlighting as a result of advanced technology. Regardless, whatever you’re bloviating about will be qualities you claim your team will be able to deliver when your firm gets the nod.
As you think about these claims, how will your potential customer determine whether your team really does have these qualities? Well, if you’re smart you’ll make sure you expose your service team to the customer during the selling process so they can see get an “up close and personal” perspective of the required skills and qualities. I worked for a company once where the sales folks always scheduled drop-by visits for installers/technicians during sales presentations to accomplish what was just mentioned. The rep would say, “Mr. Lefkowitz, I asked Clayton to drop by while I was with you today so you could meet him and determine for yourself your comfort level with our service professionals. Clayton has 11 years of experience with our company and will be your lead technician, once you become our customer. What questions would you like to ask him?”
That is a powerful strategy, but the person the customer will be exposed to most will be the salesperson. Do you think he will give you a pass because you won’t be involved in the installation or ongoing servicing of what you sell? Of course not.
Just because you’re collar is white instead of blue, you will still be held to high standards. For instance maybe one of the big selling points of your service is reliability, and then you show up late for a client meeting. You really think this potential client will believe your service reliability claims?
Or possibly one of your service promises is expertise and cutting edge technology, but you dodge a customer question and remind the buyer that you are in sales, not service. There goes your expertise claims!
Maybe you make a service promise about partnering and team-work, but you are a lone wolf that appears disconnected. Bye-bye partnering claim.
You might say connecting the dots that way by the customer isn’t fair, but that’s human nature and as I’ve said many times, the customers’ perception is your reality.
I’ll be the first to agree that most service companies don’t insure that their salespeople reflect the values and the qualities that they position their delivery teams as having. That’s a gap that should be backfilled immediately. You can’t afford to focus only on your pure sales capabilities. Closing this gap is a great way to outdistance the competition, so get busy! You are a living, breathing advertisement and you are what you sell.
Below is a description of the 8 chapters of my book, Sell is NOT a Four Letter Word. It is 274 pages and covers 116 specific coaching topics. It is $16 and I ship it FREE. Got it? Get it!
- Enthusing – Attaining and maintaining the upbeat outlook and point of view required to survive the rough terrain of the selling profession.
- Essentializing – Applying the basic principles you need to be familiar with and apply, to ensure you stand out on the selling landscape.
- Engaging – Sorting out suspects and prospects to determine who to approach, and then developing an agenda to initiate a sales conversation.
- Exploring – Uncovering, by probing & questioning, the pain, needs, & desires of prospects & buyers.
- Elaborating – Providing information about your product or service as the antidote to the pain you discovered during the exploring process.
- Encountering – Determining and resolving concerns that always surface during sales conversations.
- Executing – Reaching agreement on logical next steps in order to close sales and gain new customers.
- Expanding – Ongoing collateral activities to help grow your business & ensure long term sales success.
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