The most successful salesperson in my software company ignored every classic rule of how to be at the top of the sales game.
Instead of always out scratching for new business, Joe spent time on the phone with clients who were in the installation process with one of our customer installation teams. He was always invited to and usually attended on-site social functions during installation. He cultivated friendships with both our project managers and key managers in the client’s operation. What would you do with a salesperson who doesn’t let go of clients, who continues to hang on long after the sale is done?
Before you fire him, better read on!
Joe’s behavior exemplifies a very sophisticated view of customer service. He knew that customizing and installing a complex software system is like going to the dentist. He knew that the client’s project managers were reluctant to share concerns or outright complaints about the project with our managers for fear of roiling the waters. This is where Joe interjected himself by staying in contact with the key decision makers who selected us and thus had a vested in our success.
Joe was entertaining, happy and easy to talk to. When he called, people were delighted to hear from him. When he got around to saying, “Hey, how are things going? Any issues bothering you?” he always heard the truth. He intercepted simmering problems that could have turned into a full boil before we heard about them. Staying in touch after the sale gives a tremendous boost to customer service.
Joe earned the trust of all parties…everyone knew he was looking out for them
What he did with this information was equally insightful. He called our on-site project manager and related what he had learned. Our project managers did not resent Joe messing in their domain: they realized he was in contact with influential client people that they didn’t know. Problems detected this way were always handled at the lowest level possible, and in almost all cases the problem got fixed. If it didn’t, Joe never hesitated to involve higher levels of our management, right up to me. A CEO would much rather hear about a snag in customer service from his staff than from the client’s lawyer.
Sometimes Joe learned from our project manager that the client’s team was causing problems. In that event, he got back to the appropriate client contact and passed the word along. Everyone appreciated the fact that this was happening out of sight with minimum disruption.
Whenever one of Joe’s sales prospects asked for a client referral, Joe knew that the client would sing the praises of our company because he had earned that many times over. The prospect would often report back to Joe that the referral “was really high on your customer service!”
Joe was our highest producing salesperson.Tags: CEO, Customer Service, Salesperson