Customer service. Sales. These are often two separate worlds that, in many companies, are designed to co-exist but not connect. The idea is simple: Sales focuses on attracting and closing business with new customers, while customer service focuses on supporting and retaining the customers that sales has brought in.
The concern about connecting the dots too tightly between these two worlds boils down to cultures and priorities. Get sales people too involved in post-sale activities, the thinking goes, and they lose their focus on new account acquisition. Involve customer service people in the sales process and they might make a mistake or admit a problem that throws the sales cycle into disarray.
Certainly, these points do make sense on one level, and there’s no doubt that every business needs to keep its sales people focused on selling. But there are some real benefits that can come to a business that tightens the relationship between these two critical functions.
So, how can a more integrated relationship between sales and customer service improve your company’s sales results? Here are some key benefits:
1. Customer service learns how customer expectations are established during the sales process.
During the sales cycle, sales professionals establish and manage expectations with prospects, working with them throughout the decision cycle to achieve a successful outcome. Customer service often begins the new customer relationship with little understanding of how those expectations were set, and how a proper hand-off can maintain them effectively.
2. Customers are more likely to buy more.
Customer service teams that understand and engage accounts following a smooth hand-off from their colleagues in sales are in a better position to evaluate and suggest additional purchases that help the customer reach their goals. Perhaps your company sells business software and the sales team convinced the customer to buy most of the system except for a few optional modules. If customer service understands what the customer’s goals are, they can establish credibility early on and encourage the customer to consider adding those capabilities at the right time.
3. Customers become better references, faster.
When customer service and sales are aligned and communicating effectively, customer confidence can skyrocket in a surprisingly short period of time. Remember, many customers are anticipating a let-down between the sales cycle and the post-sales experience, so if that gap is eliminated, you’re already exceeding the expectations many customers have. Cultivating those relationships with confidence can lead to stronger, more enthusiastic customers who are eager to help the team that helped them.
4. Sales becomes more attuned to customer realities in ways that strengthen future opportunities.
Sales professionals have to focus on relationship building but one way that they can most effectively build relationships with new prospective customers is by speaking authoritatively about the experiences of their existing customers.
We don’t need the sales team to become technical experts in our products and services, but familiarization with customer service team experiences and insights can dramatically increase the confidence and credibility of your sales team in ways that help close new deals.
These four benefits demonstrate clearly that customer service can become a powerful resource for strengthening your sales capabilities and closing more business. By enhancing the connection between your sales and customer service teams, you position your business to deliver a more effective and rewarding customer relationship today – one that can be leveraged for better sales opportunities tomorrow.