Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #120

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is "Sell" a Four-Letter Word?
By Craig Bailey

Why is it that people who are not in Sales feel that selling is a bad (or at least mildly uncomfortable) thing to do? I'll bet that most of us have had this feeling at some point in our careers. We conjure up a vision of the used-car salesman attired in a plaid suit trying to coerce us into buying a car (likely a lemon) that we don't want with money that we don't have.

The reality is that ANYONE and EVERYONE who touches the customer (e.g., client, patient, member, etc.) is in sales; believe it or not, and like it or not. At the very least, we represent the organization that we work for. And, our interactions with the customer will hopefully prompt them to want to "buy" more. The worse case scenario is that our actions cause them to want to run away from our firm and tell everyone else why. At the very best, customer-facing personnel (customer service reps, technical support reps, nurses, wait staff, consultants, etc.) can and should "sell" our firm's products and services to our customers.

Let's consider definitions of the word. The American Heritage® Dictionary defines sell as "To persuade (another) to recognize the worth or desirability of something." I would suggest that an even better definition would be "To connect a need with a solution."

It would seem that everyone in a customer-facing position would clearly want to help connect a customer's need with a solution. Too often, however, we only think about (or are aware of) the "immediate" area or department that we represent and its products and services. Or, we realize that the customer's need is something outside of, or not covered in, the current contract and that the solution may only be obtained for an additional fee. Now, we get into that uncomfortable territory…

Let's put ourselves in the customer's shoes. If you have a problem, need, or want that the organization (or person) you are talking to could help with, wouldn't you want them to let you know of your complete set of options? Informing the customer of options and solutions is much different than coercing him against his will. And, if customers indicate an interest in learning more about the options you share, you can certainly refer them to the snake-oil (I mean sales) department in your firm.

Doing so is not only good for the customer, but you owe it to the company that provides your livelihood to completely understand the nature and breadth of the products and services offered. This enables you to be an ambassador for your firm, bolstering its longevity.

Also consider the fact that the sales/business development team is often focused on landing new business with new clients. You (customer service, technical support, consultant, nurse, member services, etc.) are the one interacting with and meeting the ongoing needs of "current" customers. If/when you identify a customer need (expressed or observed), take the next steps to share the solution!

In case you thought I forgot…Yes, sell is (technically speaking) a 4-letter word, but not in the sense you were thinking when you decided to read this article. In closing, if you are able to convince me that you are not a sales person, then you just demonstrated your effectiveness at sales.

 

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+ Is "Sell" a 4-Letter Word?
 


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