Customer service before the sale

Customer service in salesWhen I was pondering starting this blog I talked to as many people as I could. One gentleman that kept coming up as a recommendation was James Durbin of Durbin Media. I emailed him for a quote on designing and setting up the blog site for me.

We talked on the phone for about an hour and by the end of the conversation James recommended that I take a stab at designing the blog by myself to not only learn the process, but to reduce costs until I was sure that I had a sustainable Web presence – which can take a year to determine. He further offered to have me email him when I had it set up so that he could take a quick peek and offer any suggestions.

Why am I telling you this? Because it is a prime example of having your customer’s best interest at heart regardless of any sale that might be on the line. Here were James’s options as I see them (and my personal analysis of each).

Option 1: Close on a sale with me by frightening me into needing his service. This might have worked, I was pretty green at this in the beginning. I’ve only done Blogger blogging previously and the thought of actually coding up my own site was daunting. The end result of this option would be a one-time sale of $x. Kind of sounds like a used car salesman.

Option 2: See me as a waste of time because I’m just starting out and won’t likely be spending a large amount of money. This can be a tempting option for busy people whose time is literally money. I find myself struggling with this option from time to time when dealing with graduate students that want to buy small amounts of material from me.

Option 3: Lend a helping hand and put me on a successful path without closing a sale. This is the option that James chose and it is in keeping with everything we talk about here. If this site grows and becomes more than I can handle, you can bet that I’ll look James up. Or if anyone comes looking for a reference I’d be happy to pass his name along – just look at this post.

So the bottom line is to think long-term and always, always have your customer’s best interest at heart. This is the only way to ensure a full sales funnel.

I recently asked James to comment on his sales philosophy and here’s what he had to say:

Social Media consulting isn’t about just billing hours, it’s about discovering what clients need and determining if your services make sense for them. Most of what I teach can be done without a trainer, but it’s a question of time versus money. Companies can’t get the results without putting one of the two in, and my job is to figure out which makes the best sense. Eric has a great idea for sales engineers, but he needed to build an audience before he put money into the site. Sometimes the best policy is just paying it forward.

P.S. I talked to a lot of other folks that would probably be considered James’s competition – and you won’t see me writing any glowing reviews of their service here!

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 Sales & Training on 07.13.10 at 10:55 am

Sounds like customer loyalty to me and that starts with the very first call and continues with every call.

A genuinely loyal customer is one who values something about your company so highly that he or she stops shopping for better deals. If you have any customers like that, the overwhelming likelihood is that the thing they prize so highly is a relationship with one of your salespeople.

‘Loyalty’ implies a relationship. Who must build it? Your sales force.

How can salespeople become so valuable that their clients turn a deaf ear to competitors? Action Selling identifies three roles that every successful salesperson must play.

• Orchestrator: This role has to do with leveraging resources and coordinating selling activities in ways that demonstrate how the salesperson’s relationships and his or her company’s resources can provide valuable solutions to the customer. For instance, the salesperson might bring in a technical expert to help a client think through a problem.

• Consultant: Like a doctor diagnosing an illness, the salesperson asks questions that effectively uncover the client’s most important problems. Then the salesperson recommends solutions specifically targeted to those concerns.

• Relationship Builder: The consultant role is essentially reactive. As a relationship builder, the salesperson moves beyond “asking where it hurts.” The salesperson takes an active interest in helping the client’s company improve its competitive advantage, becoming a trusted and valued partner in the client’s business. In the relationship-builder role, the salesperson serves a universal need that never goes away—the client’s need to keep getting better at what they do.

You experienced a true customer loyalty program.

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