Make no mistake about it, there’s a big divide between customer service and sales, and business owners should be cautious and know that when they try to move a customer service rep into sales they often run into serious problems.
It’s easy to understand why. The goal of a salesperson is to bring in business. They must ALWAYS prospect and proactively look for new clients while at the same time cross and upsell to the existing client base. Their primary responsibility is revenue generation.
On the other hand, customer service reps are tasked with solving problems, providing information as well as taking orders from people that call or email to “place” their order. Customer service reps “react” to the situation even when they convert an inquiry into an order. They don’t initiate an interaction; they build on the person’s interest. The person that thrives in the “hunter” environment found in sales is usually not the same type of person that excels at customer service and vice versa. Having a nice personality and a good voice is not enough to source and close new business!
This is not to say that cross-pollination is not possible, however, business owners must be careful and take steps to ensure success:
Discuss the potential job change with the employee
Business owners might find that some employees are not at all excited about the possibility of moving into sales despite the promise of a bigger paycheck. They are not sales oriented, they don’t have the personality to be assertive, and regardless of whether they are introverted or extroverted, are not intrinsically sales driven. Presenting the new sales position to them as a fait accompli probably will backfire and cause you to lose a trusted and loyal employee as well as disrupt the rest of the staff.
Conduct a personality assessment
A personality test will give you more substantive information about whether or not the employee that you’ve identified for the position will thrive in the new role. Many business owners tell me they “go by their gut” and while that might serve them well in some areas, additional insights into the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and how these may potentially impact their success at sales, can help direct business owners to make the best decision for the individual and for the company as well.
Provide sales training
No one should have to start a new position without getting the appropriate training that will help to ensure his or her success in the position. The training should include instruction on all of the core components necessary for sales success, and the “new” rep should be closely monitored and coached during their first few weeks in the new position. Strong support by his or her front line supervisor will help to make the transition go more smoothly and eliminate the formation of any bad habits that can undermine their success moving forward.
There may possibly be effective sales reps lurking in the customer service department, however, as in any important business decision it is best to look at all of your options and to plan carefully before making a change that can backfire.
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 935-5641.