"From Salesperson to Serveperson"

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From Salesperson to Serveperson
by Joe Bonura, CSP



Imagine what it would be like at your organization if every service representative knew more about selling and every salesperson knew a little more about service. Your efforts would be doubled and possibly so would incoming business. Every employee would be working together to meet sales objectives. Instead of departmentalization, you would have harmony. Your customers would benefit because salespeople would be able to answer service questions and service people could make a few sales.

The following ideas and suggestions will help you balance sales with service -- and that leads to increased job esteem and, of course, more money to be made by all.

The Service Approach to Sales

When conducting a sales training seminar for a commercial printer, I suggested they change their business card titles from "salesperson" to "serveperson." They took my advice and reported back with a success story.

One of their sales associates handed the card to a prospect who he had been unable to tap for years. While handing her the card, he said enthusiastically, "I'm a serveperson for my printing company. I'm here to find out how we can help you." The client exclaimed, "It's about time someone was more interested in serving me than selling me!"

Your customers may be crying for help too. They want to be served, not sold. The more you serve your clients, the more they will buy.

Telling Is Not Selling

Servepeople ask questions before making any recommendations. You must find out what the injury is before you make any medical recommendations. How would you feel if you went to your doctor for a headache and he recommended surgery -- without even examining you first! It's just as crazy to begin your sales presentation telling your prospects all the ways you can help them, when you're not even sure what their problems are.

Develop a list of at least 10 questions before you meet any prospect. Design the questions around finding out if and how your product or service can help your prospect. Either commit them to memory or keep a written list. Do not attempt recommending solutions until you have asked your questions, listening carefully.

Become a Problem Solver

Being a problem solver fits right in with the new philosophy floating around about changing from a product-driven organization to a market-driven one. The key to being a problem solver is to eliminate the order-taker syndrome. Start asking customers questions, solving their problems and giving them what they need to solve their problems.

For example, if a client calls and asks for a certain item or service you offer, you may want to ask him why he made that choice. Find out how he intends to use your product or service. You may discover the item he asked for will not fill his need -- and he'll be unhappy in the end, possibly bad-mouthing your company. In this case, recommend another model or service from your line. If you don't have a product or service that will fit his needs, refer him to a company that does.

Yes, I said send him to another company! This idea made Macy's department store rich. In the end, that customer will say great things about you and come back when he can use what you offer. A one-time sale should never outweigh the Importance of a lifelong, trust relationship with your clients. Your customers will be loyal for life and spend even more money with your company.

A Success Story

Being a professional speaker, I travel all the time and I'm picky about travel arrangements. We had been shopping for a new travel agency simply because we had not found an agent who met our high expectations. We were looking for someone who could think creatively and get us the most economical, yet comfortable, flight arrangements. A colleague recommended we call his agent, Jess Swanson of Atlas Travel, and we have been blown away by his spectacular service.

Why is he so wonderful? Jess CALLS US every month to see if we have any travel needs. Jess CALLS US to let us know he found an upgrade to first class at no charge. Jess CALLS US to let us know he found a cheaper fare -- even though he's already made the reservations, even though he knows it will take him more time. He spends so much time helping us, we feel like we're his only clients.

We love Jess because he doesn't just sell us tickets or take our order. He solves our problems. Even though he is located hundreds of miles away in another state, we will always remain loyal to him because he's out for our welfare. We're so excited about his service, we want to tell everyone about him, including you. You may reach Jess at 1-800-237-2324.

Tips for Being an Effective Serveperson

1. Read the daily news.

Look for clips or articles about your customers that will stimulate new ideas on how you can serve them better.

2. Read industry publications.

If you work with printers, get your hands on their association newsletters. If you work with bankers, call the American Bankers Association for their magazine. Look for trends in their business world and think about how your product can serve your customers better.

3. Form a Customer Council.

Call trusted customers and ask them to be on your council. Hold a monthly meeting or call them individually to discuss current challenges. You may get business just for your interest.

4. Call your customers periodically just to let them know you're there.

I've had many clients say "Boy. You sure called at the right time. We need a speaker for our next meeting!" And all because I called to see how it was going.

5. Write notes to your customers often.

We write them on birthdays, before special meetings, when we see an article about their company - we even write them when they turn us down! Make sure that when the time comes for them to buy a product like yours, they will think of you first.


© 1997 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

To see Joe and hear one of his favorite selling tips, follow this link to a video he created to share with folks who are interested in making more sales, or finding a job:



Joe Bonura would be pleased for you to reprint the article text free of charge (non-exclusively), but asks that you include his name and contact information:

Joe Bonura
Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.
Website: www.bonura.com
407 Landis Lakes Court
Louisville, KY  40245

(502) 553-1746 phone

E-mail: joe@bonura.com

About Joe Bonura

His background is unique. Joe owned and operated a highly successful advertising agency for 18 years. During that time, he found his advertising campaigns were more effective when he educated his clients in the areas of sales and service. He conducted training seminars for his clients as added value. Word spread that Joe was a quality speaker and more and more people asked him to speak. The demand became so high that he sold the agency to three of his associates to start his own speaking and consulting company, Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

Joe is past President of the Kentucky Speakers Association and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a prestigious designation earned by only 8% of the 3,600 member National Speakers Association. Joe presently serves on the board of directors of NSA.

He is author of the audio learning systems "Three-Dimensional Selling®" and "Turning Customer Satisfaction Into Customer Excitement®." He is author of the book Throw the Rabbit—The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling.




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