I can still see it in my mind—the old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Two people would run into each other, and then exchange accusations: “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate.” “No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.”
You should think of selling and customer service in the same way. It’s not one or the other. They should work together. That was always the case, but these days it is even more dramatically true: selling and serving should be inseparable, and nearly indistinguishable.
Service after the sale remains as important as ever. But service during the sale is the new minimum expectation that most prospects have, and therefore it’s the new minimum standard for salespeople who want to stay relevant to their clients. If I want what you sell, but without service, I’ll buy it online—faster, cheaper, sooner, and probably with better documentation and tracking.
Machines sell by an algorithm, and there’s a time and place for that. But humans sell by serving, by being more perceptive and attuned than even the best so-called “server,” by using their broad awareness of the prospect’s situation and needs to answer questions in a more tailored way, and by using their human qualities to anticipate needs and consequences, thereby protecting the prospect from making a wrong purchase.
Salespeople who serve better than a “server” are treasured and sought out. They’re often not the fastest or cheapest, and yet they are preferred. Prospects don’t need to be asked again and again to make the purchase, because throughout the usage and ownership experience, their questions are answered well, their needs catered to, and their interests protected by someone who simultaneously serves… and sells.
Today, serving is selling and selling is serving. Service well and you will sell. Sell well and you will earn the right to serve. It’s a wonderfully vicious cycle.