Customers and clients are savvy. The truth is, most people in the market for a solution, whether it’s new software or a financial service, have done their homework. They’ve already looked online and decided which products or services they feel meet their needs and which businesses they like and why. For sales people this should be good news – most of the hard work is done for you!
The problem is that as sales people, trying to sell to these customers using age-old sales techniques is likely to turn them away rather than turning them into paying customers.
With the rapid pace of change in the business landscape, especially post-COVID, sales strategies need to evolve. So it stands to reason that the traditional traits once sought after in sales candidates – persistence, product knowledge, and negotiation skills – are no longer enough. As sales evolve, so too must the characteristics we value in salespeople. Today’s winning formula? A mix of traditional sales acumen with a strong dose of customer service skills.
But why is there an increasing demand for salespeople with customer service backgrounds? And how can they drive sales success in our post-pandemic world?
Beyond Sales: The Personality Traits That Matter
Have you ever wondered why some salespeople can easily build rapport with customers, while others struggle to connect? The answer often lies in their inherent customer service skills.
- Empathy: Salespeople who can genuinely understand and feel a customer’s pain points and needs can better tailor solutions.
Active Listening: Those who truly listen, rather than waiting for their turn to speak, can identify customer needs more accurately.
Patience: In a world where instant gratification is king, the ability to wait, understand, and deliver solutions patiently can set a salesperson apart.
Problem-solving skills: This goes beyond fixing issues; it’s about proactively identifying potential challenges and addressing them.
Experience can teach techniques, but these innate qualities are not something you can easily train.
Why Do Customer Service Skills Shine?
Have you noticed how customer interactions have changed? The pandemic catalysed a shift from mere transactions to meaningful relationships. Customers are more sensitive to sales conversations. They want to be in the driving seat and have an empathetic ear to help them find solutions to their problems.
- Trust is paramount: In uncertain times, customers value trust over hard sells. Salespeople with customer service skills inherently focus on relationship-building, fostering trust.
Remote interactions: With an increased reliance on virtual sales, reading customer cues over a call or video becomes crucial. Those with a service background excel at this.
Heightened Expectations: Customers expect more than just a product; they want an experience. And who better than someone trained to deliver exceptional experiences?
A study by PwC found that 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, just behind price and product quality. Now, wouldn’t you want your sales team to be experts in delivering that experience?
Customer Service Skills: A Pathway to Sales Success
Are great customer service skills directly proportional to sales success? The simple answer is yes. But why is this the case?
- Loyalty and Retention: A salesperson who is adept at handling queries and complaints will have happier customers. Happy customers stay, and as per Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
- Referrals: Satisfied customers are your best brand ambassadors. Salespeople who offer stellar service often find themselves at the receiving end of referrals, exponentially increasing their sales opportunities.
- Cross-selling and Up-selling: When customers trust a salesperson, they are more open to recommendations. A service-centric approach can boost these additional sales opportunities.
Challenging Assumptions: Experience vs. Aptitude
Is experience in sales the ultimate benchmark for success? Let’s challenge that notion. Consider this: would you prefer a salesperson with years of experience but lacking in empathy and patience or a newbie with a natural flair for understanding and helping customers?
The market is evolving. Harvard Business Review highlighted that customers no longer see a distinction between the brand, the product, and the service. They see experience. Experience in sales is valuable, but the ability to deliver an unforgettable customer experience? Priceless.
The Future is Customer-Centric
To sum it up, as we step into a future where products are increasingly commoditized, the real differentiator is the experience we offer. Hiring salespeople with customer service skills is not just a ‘nice-to-have’; it’s a strategic imperative.
So, the next time you’re looking to expand your sales team, ask yourself: are you hiring for the present or for the future?
The ball is in your court. Will you lead the change or follow it?