Because of the challenges of managing a service selling telephone organization, and in being a salesperson selling services, there is a wide range of outcomes between different selling organizations. To be successful, marketing and sales must work closely together, and the phone sales rep must be carefully trained. In many industries, the sales cycle for new customers into a service organization is long. For example, if the selling organization is offering building cleaning services to property owners, they may need to wait for existing contracts to expire or other business drivers which will prompt the potential customer to consider switching. Marketing should work with sales to determine trigger emails and other marketing automation assistance to keep customers warm in between phone calls. Marketing will also need to help create sales collateral – electronic, on-line and printed – which support verification and trust features which may be identified by potential customers as important to them. The phone sales reps will need to be trained on how to define and activate marketing automation, and how to use sales collateral.
The selling organization’s service providers will probably also need to be part of the sales mix. In the example above of cleaning services, a potential customer may want to visit a building where the selling organization’s service employees are cleaning, engaging these employees in the sales process. If the selling organization is selling medical services, a potential customer may talk a nurse or an intake specialist involving them in the selling process. The salesperson will need to know how to incorporate the “service factory” into their sales process.
The selling organization should consider creating a blueprint of their service delivery and support operations, and identify all areas where customers interface with the organization, and what are “back office functions”, out of sight of the customer. The sales manager along with marketing, can then create a features/benefits matrix, and determine where the need for experiences in the selling cycle may require service delivery personnel to interact with potential customers. The telephone salespeople should be fully trained on these experiences, and should shadow delivery personal to be totally comfortable with the process.
Unfortunately, it is easy to try to sell services without preparation and forethought. Many telephone salespeople have been handed a directory of suspects, a telephone and a rudimentary contact management system and have been told to go forward and “make it happen.’ What usually happens in this scenario instead is a frustrated salesperson and low sales. In my experience, I have seen a wider variance of success among service sellers than product sellers, and I’ve found that most product sellers struggle to sell ancillary services, because they adopt a product mindset.
It is a product world, because it is easier to grasp the tangible, and buyers are on firmer ground when considering physical objects with similar characteristics shipped almost anywhere. But there’s money to be made in selling services over the phone, it’s worth the time and training energy to get it right.