By Gary Hernbroth

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear someone say, "I'm not in sales, I'm in customer service." They apparently have not seen the light as to two important tenets that I've learned over my career, being on both sides of the sales and service coin:

When you are selling someone something, you are providing a service to them;

When you are giving someone customer service, you are in effect selling them something too.

Here's why:

When you sell a service or product, you are helping the person to get what they want, what they need, what they think they need, etc. The customer’s perception is that your service or product will somehow improve their life, make things work better for them, give them satisfaction, or set them up for success. Thus, you are providing them a service through the sale.

On the other side of the coin, when you provide outstanding customer service to someone, you are really accomplishing two very important things sales-wise. One, you are reinforcing their idea that they made a great buying decision (for example, "I'm glad I came here / "I'm glad I chose them” / “I made the right decision!" etc.).

Second, you are re-proving your worth and thus making a re-sale more likely — increasing the odds that they will buy from you again — thanks to the satisfaction and impression they get from your service.

Thus, you are selling through great service, or at least setting the plate for a re-sale.

I don’t believe enough organizations really fully grasp this concept, at least all the time. They are so very sales-oriented, but not so hot on the service after the sale. Have you been there, done that, too?

Sales Without Service Just Doesn't Work

I’ve long held with my presentations and discussions with clients that you really can’t have one without the other. A recent example in my own life as a consumer happened just last week. I went through one of those excruciating experiences we all face sooner or later…

…I had to buy a new smartphone.

The salesperson took me through various options, answered my many questions (hey, it’s how we learn stuff!), and by process of elimination helped me select the right phone for my needs. A sale was born.

The “a-ha” moment in my eyes unquestionably occurred immediately following the signing of my autograph on the credit card slip. I put their service game to the test. How good was the salesperson going to be helping me set up my phone, explain the nuances, suggest new apps, and all that other junk we have to know about a new device?

When Does a "Sale" Really Begin?

Selling me something is one thing. Post-sale help and service is quite another. To me, that’s always when the sale really begins.

The young lady did a terrific job with all of that, explaining things without making me feel like a dummy, helping me get familiar and excited about my new phone’s features, and generally calming my misgivings about having to adapt to a new phone. That’s good for the blood pressure, isn’t it?

Had she given me the short shrift after ringing up the sale with me, it would have been an entirely different story. I walked out of the store happy to have spent my money with them. Value received.

Hotels & Hospitality Providers Should lead the Charge!

By virtue of their business and thus the many different “moments of truth” or touch-points guest encounter in hotels and restaurants, these businesses should be leading the post-sale service charge. They have lots of opportunities to delivery terrific service that reinforces the guests’ decision to buy.

But do they take full advantage of those opportunities?

After guests visit your website, make their reservations, check out the reviews on-line, and ultimately walk through your front door, it’s “game on!” All of your brand promises and website bragging must be fulfilled by the front-line team. They can make you or break you.

There are legions of stories of guests who have experienced the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly in hotels, clubs, restaurants, etc. Simple things like getting swift responses to service requests, correct information, clean and quality products, and a feeling of hospitality are some of the tipping points that will determine whether your guests run out of your establishment screaming for help or screaming for their friends to try it, too.

Too many firms are front-loaded on their efforts to “drive revenue” (I’ve been in hundreds of meetings where that term was repeated endlessly), without giving much thought, discussion, or concern to the after-sale care of customers. You need both.

That kind of thinking can kill a business. Deliver on your promises through after-sale service or you’ll be done.

Here are three keys to embrace:

* Get your operations team on board with the idea that what they do is very much a part of the sales process;

* Have a guest recovery program in place, sure, but also take a look under your hood at everything you do along those critical “moments of truth” – everything your guests see, sense, touch, taste, smell, and hear – and make those areas your guest “pre-covery” focus. Trust me, you’ll find things that can be improved.

* Design, align, explain, train, observe, manage, adjust, and then train again. And again. Do everything possible to insure that the after-sale service delivery is clicking.

Sales and Service — indisputably tied together in the customers' eyes. It’s “game on” with your guests after they buy. Give this your full attention and your customers will have your back via their return loyalty and positive reviews.