On the Road with Mr. Shmooze

I was on the road last week and had all sorts of good and bad sales and customer service experiences.

On the bad side, I received a quote for some work from a building services company. I called and talked to one of the inbound order takers and asked if I could get a more detailed breakdown of pricing (which seemed high). There was a long pause and then the rep, who obviously had no training on price objections, kind of stuttered and said . . . “that is just the way we price things.” That broke trust, and they lost the order. I was also working with a landscaping company who came out, gave me a bid and then disappeared. I called a couple of times and finally the estimator called me back clearly annoyed I had been pushing for some answers. Good bye!

On the plus side, I had an insurance adjuster show up to estimate a settlement on some flood damage I had on our summer home when some frozen pipes thawed. The adjuster was friendly in an honest way, no nonsense. He wrote up a beautiful breakdown and gave me a check on the spot, explaining the case would still be open until everything was done. Here is a key for all you sales and customer service managers out there . . . at the end he gave me a survey of his service to fill out and send in . . . a nice touch that he handed it to me in person, it did not come later. He was clearly incented by it.

We have always said that sustained sales relationships are always dependent upon the weakest link in the chain. You can be an outstanding salesperson, but if your phone representatives are weak or your estimators grumpy, you can get your legs swept out from under you and never know what happened. On the other hand, if your service people have their acts together, they can be your greatest sales allies. But you need to check, constantly, with surveys; or surveys and secret shoppers if necessary, because one bad apple . . .