Most business owners divide their sales cycle into two parts – pre-sale and post-sale. Pre-sale activities are typically owned by the salesperson and the marketing department while the post-sale cycle is owned by the customer care team.
The reasoning behind this division is clear : the objective of the sales team is to reach out to as many potential customers as possible and pitch the product. On the other hand, the job of the customer care team is to look at possible reasons why the customer is not happy with the purchase and try to rectify this. This is not only to make the particular customer happy, but also reassure potential new customers that the business exists to hold hands when they face an issue after the purchase.
In a way then, customer care exists to provide an assurance to potential customers to bite the bullet and pay for the product. This is one reason why I always advocate for the customer service team in a company to be brought under the sales and marketing division. In doing so, the objectives of both the teams are aligned – they both strive to find new customers and keep the existing ones happy in order to retain their patronage.
But simply bringing the two teams together alone shall not help. An aggressive sales manager could potentially force their customer service team to sell products that bring higher margins to the company instead of helping them fix problems with an existing service. Such strategies could create short team gains but hinder growth over the long-term; a perspective a lot of salespeople unfortunately do not consider.
In a smaller company, it is imperative for the business owner to act as a middleman between the two divisions. Jay Barnett, the owner of an Australian private drivers’ network called Priority Pickup, tells me that communication with the customer forms a key part of how his company ensures better retention of customers. He says that he gives customers the opportunity to provide feedback. “I do this early in the booking, and I have come across times when enquiries have been missed. Because I communicate directly with my customers, at key moments, I am able to intervene and get customers back which might have otherwise been lost”, he says. By taking up critical customer care responsibilities in the sales process, Jay says he has been able to make sales where they may have been none.
Regardless of how big or small your company is, one important point to remember is that your customer is a human being too. They have their fears and doubts while paying for something. By blending the persuasiveness of a sales team along with the responsiveness of a customer service, one could ensure that their customers not only stay happy but are also keen on referring you and offering you their own repeat business.
Philip Trescothick is a marketing consultant with nearly 8 years of experience working with brick and mortar businesses. He is also a frequent guest contributor and author of multiple books on marketing. He lives with his wife and children in Perth, Australia.