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August 1, 2017

3 Key Components of Customer Service in Sales

080117 - Cindy Kennedy

GUEST: Cindy Kennedy, District Manager for Corus360

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“The most important and most valuable service you can provide is an excellent experience.” - Cindy Kennedy, District Manager for Corus360

Customer service is a critical component to driving revenue and account expansion. In this episode, Cindy Kennedy tells us why listening, trust, and responsiveness are inseparable from sales success.

It starts with how you treat your own team internally. If you treat each other with respect, it becomes a repetitive behavior versus something you have to work at.

Beyond that, there are three key components of customer service that every salesperson should incorporate into everything they do.

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3 Key Components of Customer Service in Sales

1) Listening

The importance of listening seems obvious, but there are far too many salespeople out there with “happy ears.” It’s often easy to hear only what we want to hear. So how do you increase your listening acumen?

Again, if you’re practicing listening on a daily basis, and you hear somebody say something and repeat what they’re saying, that becomes part of your regular routine.

There are some things that Corus360’s salespeople do religiously that you may find helpful: typically, their sales teams go into meetings with someone else, an engineer or other member of the team. So it’s very important after the meeting is over for everyone to compare notes. What did you hear? What were your key takeaways?

Then they follow up with an email to the customer. Cindy likes to keep emails as simple and concise as possible, so the customer has time to read it. It also helps to keep these emails bulleted.

It’s pretty easy to write a few bullets on

  • What I’ve heard
  • Action items
  • Next steps

Then the customer can either confirm or correct. They won’t always respond to the email, but it’s a reference point.

Lastly, when you go back to the next meeting, start it off by recapping the last meeting. This gives you more validation and acknowledges to the customer that you’ve heard what they said. If it’s not what they said, then they can clarify, but you’ve got to acknowledge.

“Acknowledging is the first key to listening,” Cindy told us.

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2) Trust and Loyalty

People buy from people. It’s a challenge sometimes for people to provide reps with a consistent way to engender trust.

“At the end of the day,” Cindy said, “nobody wants to be sold to—not even me.” People get prepared to go to the car dealership because they can’t stand salespeople.

So the first thing we have to do is stop selling. We need to help our customers fix a problem or improve something. That’s the key to building trust: stop selling.

3) Responsiveness

This is something a lot of people drop the ball on. When you look at building customer service, it’s about what you do and not what you say.

Oftentimes sales reps go into meetings and talk about how they’re going to build trust and provide value, but at the end of the day it’s about what you’re doing.

Responsiveness is something you can do to show your customer you’re going to be there for them. It’s not one of those things that’s easy to manage—if you’re a sales rep that needs to be micromanaged, then you’re probably not cut out for sales. But Cindy tries to instill the importance of being not just responsive, but proactive.

Sales reps who don’t take the proactive approach working with prospects and customers will be measured based on the amount of business that they get. Customers aren’t going to buy from someone standing there with their hand out. They need someone who goes above and beyond: unless you’re providing something that nobody else is, there’s no value there.

Many of your customers probably work 50-60 hours a week. So what can you do proactively for them instead of waiting for them to ask?

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What is most effective when someone is trying to sell to you?

We like to ask all of our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Cindy responded:

“I often look for people who are effectively doing that, because we’re being sold to all the time. It takes consistent touch points. You want to start hearing from somebody consistently (and I’m not talking about spam mail).

Reaching out via phone and trying different ways to connect and reaching out to someone I know as a reference, that goes a long way. I can usually rely on that person being referenced to say, this is someone I should talk to.”

Acceleration Insight

In each episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we ask our guests for one nugget of wisdom they would impart to a sales professional. Here’s this one:

“Understand your business, and listen. In the technology industry, there are a lot of sales reps who rely solely on their engineers or other companies, and I’d say that customers want to buy from people that they know understand what they need. As a salesperson, if you don’t understand the industry that you’re in, and what it is the customer is looking for, how are you able to give them a solid recommendation?

The other thing is, listening is the main reason why communication breaks down. We have that throughout our life, not just in our careers. The brain hears about the first 20 seconds of everything you say. If your customer’s not actively engaged in a conversation with you, and you’re not listening to them, then they’re not hearing what you’re saying either.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Cindy Kennedy from Corus360. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

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