Everyone knows, when it comes to sales, that capitalising on an existing customer is a lot more profitable than starting with making a new conquest.
So for a business today, having effective customer service (or Customer Success) is just as important as having a high-performance sales team.
Why? Because nowadays the majority of turnover is not earned on the first sale to a customer, but as a result of renewal of the contract, on opportunities to up-sell or cross-sell which present themselves during the period of the contract. And who is best placed to capitalise on these opportunities? Customer services!
As a result, the key to achieving your sales targets is therefore largely in the hands of your customer services. It is the person in customer services who can create customer satisfaction by supporting them in the use of your products, who knows them by heart, and who is best placed to identify new revenue sources with each customer.
So here are three reasons why you ought to be best friends with your customer services department:
To sell well, you need to have stories of customer satisfaction to tell.
Telling a good story is the best way of seducing a prospective customer. Behavioural studies have shown that a person retains only 5-10% of information delivered via statistics, as against 65-70% when these statistics are illustrated with a story or anecdote.
Storytelling is therefore essential for sales. But to be a good storyteller, you have to have good stories to tell. And those who are in the best position to do this are your satisfied customers. That said, we have to look at what makes a good story, and how customer services can be the key to revealing them.
For a story to have impact, and lead to a sale, its has to:
- have a beginning, a middle and an end
- be relevant, and make sense to the prospective customer you’ll be telling it to.
Structure your story well
Of course, storytelling is not a recent invention. Nowadays, everyone has a story to tell, even your butcher. As a result, today’s prospective customers are more and more demanding.
Which means that you have to come up with something out of the ordinary. If you just relate, from start to finish, the classic story in which your customer got the results they expected, it runs the risk of being more boring than convincing. So you have to add a challenge, and some suspense. Show your listener what efforts you made to meet one of your customer’s particularly demanding requirements. Explain the whole story, including the difficulties encountered, and how your customer overcame them thanks to your product and your after-sales support. That will add greater credibility to your story for your prospective customer. And don’t forget – the devil’s in the detail. So give concrete facts: deliverables, metrics, difficulties etc. They will make your story easier to remember for the prospective customer than if you make do with vague generalities.
To do this, you need to start by going to talk to your customer services. These are the people who will be able to give you all the details of your customer’s journey in respect of the product after the purchase phase: how was it shaped? What problems might have been encountered? How were they resolved? Who was involved in the process? What were the results obtained by the product? How were they measured? What is the customer’s level of satisfaction?
The stories must be relevant and make sense to your listener
Another key aspect of giving a story impact is to make sure it is relevant to your prospective customer. The problems and objectives of the hero of your story (your customer) must echo those of your prospective customer.
Which means that the same story will not suit all your prospects. You will need to have a range of stories in stock to correspond to each type of prospective customer. Whether this means the size of their company, its business sector or even their position in the hierarchy.
And who has the facts to make the necessary adjustments? Your customer services, of course! They will do the after-sales follow-up and have all the details necessary to ensure that your story perfectly fits the context and your prospect’s challenges.
So the best thing to do is quickly to arrange a meeting with members of your customer services department so that they can tell you their best stories, and how you will be able to use them profitably during your appointments with prospective customers.
To sell well, you have to know which customers are satisfied and why
After your meeting with customer services, who have told you what happened with your customers after they signed the contract, you will be even more capable of defining your Ideal Customer Profile, and therefore concentrating on those with the best chances of offering opportunities for renewal, up-selling or cross-selling.
With customer services, you can also define the profile of customers who have left you, or have not managed to use the potential of your product 100%. This will enable you to anticipate possible difficulties with some of your prospects which have characteristics in common with the latter.
To sell well, you have to involve your customer services department in your selling process.
As you already know, because everyone says so, the best performing sales reps are those who are capable of bringing added value to their customers during the purchasing cycle. I’m thinking here of the advisory stance, of social selling, the delivery of relevant and convincing content, in other words, educating the prospect. However, according to a study published by the Rain Group called “Insights Selling”, 80% of purchasers state that sales reps do not give them any new ideas or fresh perspective on their area of business…
So how can you deliver value to your prospective customer?
Start by involving your customer services department, even before the contract is signed. As I explained above, your customer services staff can provide customer stories which are suitable for educating and reassuring your purchaser. They can also work together with your purchaser and yourself to assure them that their expectations will be more than met by your team and your solution. This enables you to reduce the risk of losing them later.
Also, involving customer services in a meeting with your purchaser will help them get to know the context of the future customer, and anticipate actions to be taken to support them after the contract is signed. This will also enable you to offload some of the transfer of customer information which will be expected of you following signature of the contract. And finally, it will help customer services to develop a relationship with key decision-makers to ensure that the project is properly run down the line. This is a win/win/win result for you yourself, your customer services and your purchaser.
So when you’ve finished reading this article, take a couple or seconds to ask yourself “Am I sufficiently close to my customer services department?” If you are doubtful, you are in the process of ruining some of your chances of achieving your sales objectives. So get up and go and ask them for a chat over coffee.