The old way of doing business was for the responsibility of sales people to begin with a lead generated by the marketing department and end once the order was signed. Stories used to abound of after sales teams picking up the pieces of poor selling, false promises, inaccurate pricing and worse!
I say it was the old way of doing business, but sadly I still hear reports from support teams all over the world of the same things happening today. “It’s as if some of the sales team still see their job as being hunters who bring home the kill and leave a mess for others to sort out after them” said a frustrated customers service team leader in a workshop. The Business Development Director from this ‘professional services’ firm told me “Sales, by it’s nature, has a different culture from the rest of the business”.
This firm was certainly making sales - but then (not surprisingly) receiving lots of complaints, had difficulty cross selling other services and had an embarrassing client attrition rate. They even left out the sales team when mapping the customer experience journey as part of a customer survey exercise.
Attitudes about sales being ‘different’ are certainly not rare.
The strap line of my book “Principled Selling’ is ‘How to win more business without selling your soul’. The idea came from a chat with a partner of a large New York Accountancy firm who told me “David, you have the make a Faustian Pact when you put your selling head on”
I could not disagree more!
Sales is changing
In 2018…2019…2020…and beyond, how businesses sell will change because how customers buy is changing. Customer’s online experience of a brand will become even more important as part of the buying process as they use the internet and social media to research options. Judgements are already being made about the credibility and reliability of brands (and individuals) long before a customer engages with a sale person. The reputation and credibility of sales people is being judged based on the promises made on company web sites, in marketing materials and through company social media channels.
No longer can sales be seen as something separate, from the customers point of view, it is just as much a part of the customer experience as the product or service they are buying.
It’s about congruence
Congruence is derived from the Latin word ‘congro’ meaning ‘to agree’. For businesses who want to thrive, all parts of the customer experience journey must be congruent:
- Selling behaviours need to be congruent with the expectation set by your marketing messages
- Selling messages need to congruent with the messages on your web site
- The delivery of products and services needs to be congruent with the promises made by the sales team
- The sales team must act in accordance with the stated values of the business
You can be sure that customers will expect to experience a sales process consistent with the promises your PR and marketing activities make and the delivery of your product to be consistent with the sales promises made.
Otherwise you can expect the modern marketing channels your use to be used against you by unhappy customers keen to make sure as many people as possible don’t do business with you!
Sales is a vital part of the customer experience, make sure the experience is a good one.
Director JXD, International Speaker and Author