Salespeople and Service Reps Can Get Along. Really.
I met my husband on a street corner. Really, I did, but probably not in the way you are thinking. He wasn’t a Boy Scout helping me across the street and I wasn’t scouting for entertainment. It was actually a happy ending to a ridiculous situation, a situation that would have been unnecessary if everyone on his team had simply communicated.
Here’s the story: my parents bought the original modular home- a trailer house- and the sales person said “no problem, we can deliver it to your site!” Dad insisted there might be a problem since the ‘site’ was in a scenic valley, down a country road with many curves, and the house was the largest made at that time.
As these stories often go, the sales person neglected to schedule a site visit, one corner was particularly treacherous, and the delivery crew was left with a problem. They had a long rectangle wedged between a rock and a brick building…for eight hours. My future husband was the lead crew person that day and when I met him, in the dark, with rain falling and a temp just over 32*, he was smiling and carrying on, keeping everyone’s spirits up, including the people who were impatiently waiting to get around the corner and home to their dinner.
The upside of this story is that I saw this man in a terrible situation and knew his spirit was exactly what I wanted in a spouse. The downside is that relations between the sales and service departments never improved. Sales ‘forgot’ to schedule site visits, service ‘forgot’ to appreciate the effort it took to sell a product and tension ruled the business which eventually failed.
That story happened several presidents ago, but today, as I coached a team, I was reminded of it once again. The team told me “Salespeople are jerks.” “Technicians are grumps.” (Although they used different words…) As a result of these sentiments, the boss is in a tither because her idyllic workplace would have laughter, not yelling which is the current reality. There are also a lot of excuses not to hit company goals.
Here are three pieces of advice I gave her before we set up a long term plan for team building, bottom up goal setting and individual growth:
1. Without sales, there is no work for a technician to accomplish. Sales people deserve good pay, they deserve a bit of indulgence for promises made during the sale and if I ruled the world, they’d be given a pat on the back about ten times a day. Appreciation and applause will take your company past today’s bottom line and into rocketing sales. Salespeople also need to go on a couple of service calls and see what happens to a customer’s face when things don’t go as promised. It is not easy playing cleanup and the more communication provided by the sales team the better chance you have of hitting customer expectations.
2. Without after the sale service, technical, mechanical or verbal, there is no referral. Your technicians deserve a voice in the delivery promises and while they generally do not require too much praise, they need a bit of trust and freedom. Let them know what they can ‘give away’ how they can profit from finding your next customer, and make sure they clearly understand what the customer is expecting. They do not want to let them down, and they surely don’t want to be the ones to break the news that the salesperson over-promised. Service can, however, save the face of the company in that unfortunate situation and they should know how to do it with grace.
3. Your departments must work as a team. Your sales staff and your service staff should do some job sharing, they should each have a stake in the sale and they should fully understand what it takes to sell the product and what it takes to service it. The more empathy you can establish between the two departments, the more positive results you will see. Frequent team building events are a must, and team challenges, where both departments contribute and compete together, are worth the effort.
When I was in the car business the sales manager, or other representative, met every potential customer and they were part of every new car delivery. It set the tone for service work by building rapport, it also ensured any sales promises were clearly defined. Customer satisfaction sky rocketed, and so did our referral business. It was worth the effort for both sides to collaborate on the sale, and you will find the same in your business.
Karen Grosz has managed a sales field that generated 50 million in annual sales and now helps teams reach their goals. Contact Karen at email@example.com