In services, the sale is only the beginning

The good salesperson is truly result-oriented. He doesn’t stop till he gets things done. So he fights a hard fight – though I am sure he would claim it was a ‘right fight’.

He pushes and edges his way forward. He calls and counsels and goads. He knows when to sell hard. He knows when to sell soft. If the deal is hard, he thinks harder. He thinks from inside the box. He thinks from outside it.

Why, he even ‘listens’ to the customer!

And so, if required, he can articulate what the customer really wants – often even better than how customers would articulate it themselves.

And so they listen to him with respect. He brushes aside competition because the company he represents can do so much more. He does everything in the book. And then many things that aren’t in it.

And so, it becomes impossible to resist his hyper-drive. It becomes impossible to resist the incredible promise of value he makes.

And eventually the deal comes through.

Groundbreaking

Soon enough, there’s the project kick-off meeting starting in 15 minutes and reminders are popping up on everyone’s calendar.

In come the tech guys and the project manager and the solutions man: A room of powerful delivery guys!

Out come their notebooks. And the moment the customer starts his opening line, alas! Tragedy strikes…..

What a terrible disaster!

The room is suddenly filled with stenographers, hurriedly writing down whatever is uttered. The entire room of techies and experts representing an incredible promise of transformation suddenly undergo transformation themselves into something close to college kids in a class lecture, whose only real motive in that moment is to keep the gap between their written words-per-minute and the customers spoken wpm as small as possible. So it’s a catch up game, and some of them even peek into the notebooks of their neighbours to see what they missed while trying to concentrate on spelling ‘re-assess & reinvigorate processes’ (for example, is it ‘assess’ or ‘asses’??).

Back in office, work starts. Data entry operators key in the steno-notes. Project managers export that into MS Excel and delivery managers use that to estimate time. Project Leaders convert it into Scope documents and break it into deliverable components for engineers to begin building. Everyone focused on their component of the whole project. Everyone trying to ‘deliver well’ their part of the whole.

And, sadly though, that tough, difficult-to-spell phrase of the customer, “re-assess & reinvigorate processes” never figures in anyone’s notes.

Very often the enthusiasm and the proactive, energetic drive visible during the selling phase can be positive factors in swinging the deal in a vendor’s favor. Sadly though, this is often not followed through. The result is a huge disconnect the approach taken in dealing with a client during the sales phase and that in the delivery phase.

The warning

If you are the service provider, remember the sale is only the beginning. The Sales team will only help you take the first leap. The Sale is only the beginning. It really is only a door that they open.

If you are the customer, remember that placing the order is not the end. It is only a door you open.

The real show for both begins only after the door opens.

Think about it.

(adapted from a post on http://www.bouncingthoughts.com)

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Categories: BPM, Strategy, Workplace Reality

Author:Jaisundar Venkat

Jaisundar Venkat is a process professional specialized in Business Process Management. Jaisundar leads BPM Consulting at a large technology firm and is on a mission to help companies achieve the fundamental promise of BPM. His areas of interest include BPM, CRM, SFA, Sales Performance Optimization, Corporate Performance Management and general IT industry developments & trends. He writes on these topics at his own blog, BouncingThoughts.com and also writes for a few popular sites specializing on Business Technology trends, specifically the crucial intersection between Business and IT.

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3 Comments on “In services, the sale is only the beginning”

  1. Bhargav
    September 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi- I thought to share my opinion on this blog. Yes, You are right.. Sales are just beginning for service industries. The gap between sales and delivery teams may be filled by documenting exactly what sales promises to customers. The data in all converstions, verbal and non verbal need to be captured in audio or video files that helps delivery team to understand the business needs and interests with us. The sales meetings are done at higher level and the actual work is carried at lower level where the sales promises are not truly transferred to delivery team with 100% data (conversation held).

  2. Ashley Mathew
    September 21, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    It is really an interesting thought. I agree with it. If I could add- in sales we should stay away from selling anything that we aren’t sure of delivering. That could be a suicidal approach. It breaks customer trust in the short term and the salesperson ends up building a very unreliable brand for his company in the long run. So either the salesperson first truly understands what his company is capable of and then sell only that much or else go all-out to sell and then ensure that the delivery standards are upgraded to that level.

  3. Ramki
    September 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    As the differntiators across competitors fade in a shrunken market, yes, sale is only the beginning. Even Customers are much smarter now, no more 5 year plans or 20 point contracts. It is just for a quarter. But yeah, unless there is a change in the mindset of Service provider’s way of looking at things, it will continue to be the same. Companies need to stop assuming that any “X” can be trained on anything and “X” will be productive from day 1. With good investments and the ability to maintain “fully trained “products” in cold storage” , things can change….

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