Happy Monday! I started writing this weeks newsletter during the holidays. It’s such an important topic for sales professionals and leaders. Let’s dive in:
What Nordstrom’s failures can teach you about what your customers value most
Nordstrom is in trouble, and its their own fault.
It’s easy to see how their revenues have suffered recently:
So how does a retailer known for its exemplary service take such a nose dive?
It forgot about how much its customers valued their service.
I used to work at Nordstrom in the mid-'80s and have been a strong advocate and customer over the last forty years. But I noticed the shift a few years ago when they moved away from their strategic value to compete against Amazon.
Many customers have noticed it too. Faithful customers have taken to the internet and social media to share their displeasure with the new Nordstrom. And they have moved their purchasing to smaller, more customer centric boutiques.
Nordstrom is a cautionary tale about how sales and customer success are tightly connected. A misstep in one area can tank the other.
While sales and customer service are interdependent, they also are often separate roles and departments. Companies must remember that these functions contribute much to the same customer journey.
It's clear now more than ever: if you skimp on service, your sales will suffer.
Nordstrom's story teaches us exactly that. Changing what customers love about you can backfire. Gone are the friendly greetings and sales professionals consulting with customers eager to help.
Instead, the feeling is more or less like picking up takeout food. The elegance and service have suffered.
Photo: courtesy of Nordstrom
So, how do we keep our sales and service top-notch without stepping on each other's toes?
First, listen to what customers are saying. Have systems in place to make sure no customer voice goes unheard. Everyone in customer-facing roles should seek to understand and amplify the voice of the customer.
Second, fix problems together. Sales and customer service need to work hand in hand. Teams need to stay aligned and tackle issues as one customer experience, but stay in their lanes. Each needs to be accountable for their roles. Sales’ KPI’s are revenue generation and service, is measured on a net promoter score and lifetime customer value. Also, when service delivered misses expectations, assess both sides to find the root issue. Did a seller overcommit? Is training needed? Did service drop the ball or fail to set expectations? Don’t seek to blame each other. Find the issue and fix it fast.
Lastly, use the right technology to support your sales team. Sales enablement platforms can offer insights into what customers want, helping tailor your approach.
Remember, sales thrive on great service. By listening, collaborating, and using the right tools, you can ensure your customers have amazing experiences for a long time to come.
FUEL the fire 🔥
Sales role confusion can derail your growth
It’s an easy trap to fall into. Sellers believe their job #1 is to cater to whatever their customers demand.
It’s an insidious trap sellers naturally fall into. Instead of seeing themselves as a change agent, a transformative consultant who can bring needed relief to vexing problems, they opt to be customer pleasers. They are willing to be “johnny-on-the-spot” for things that are even outside their control.
When it comes to sales, the line between pushing for results and providing exceptional service can often blur.
Tales of service gone awry are everywhere, turning the spotlight on a crucial lesson.
Great sales aren't just about satisfying customers; they're about adding value and expertise, bookended with a top-flight experience.
Your role in sales isn't to please and offer excellent customer service.
Instead, help your customer solve problems with your services or solutions.
Guide with insight and knowledge.
Focus on their outcomes, and don’t lose sight of growth necessary in a period of time.
Executing on this balance is key to sustaining your business and supporting everyone who relies on it.
Selling isn't mere customer service. It's about revealing needs that customers themselves may not see. The confusion arises when sales teams become order-takers rather than strategic sellers.
In a challenging economy, this distinction becomes even clearer. Companies cannot rely on service alone for growth.
In Billion Dollar Sales Secrets, I share how salespeople should stay results-oriented. There’s a limited amount of time to get the job done. Don’t waste time in areas doing other people’s jobs for them. Stay in your lane. Role clarity and trust in the team ensures not just customer satisfaction but the thriving of your business.
Salespeople are the front lines of customer interaction, making their approach critical to both the sale and the customer's journey. From empathizing with customers to setting clear expectations and being ready to walk away if it's not the right fit.
Embrace Expertise: Shift from a satisfaction-only mindset to becoming a consultative partner with a time limit. Your expertise is your value.
Collaborative Selling: Foster teamwork between sales and service departments. Let the voice of the customer drive action.
Customer Engagement: Dive deep into understanding customer needs through active listening and open-ended questions. Tailor your sales approach accordingly. Dig deep to get to the heart of the issue.
Continuous Learning: Invest in both sales and customer service/success training. This dual focus will ensure your team not only meets but also exceeds customer expectations.
The relationship between sales and customer service is complex but navigable. Working together to emphasize sales acumen and service excellence, you can ensure your team exceeds targets and builds lasting relationships.
Remember, the goal is to be your customers' problem-solving partner, turning every interaction into an opportunity for growth and connection.
Take the pulse of your business…
MARKET mover 🌐
Get Ahead of These Events to Anticipate For Your Customer
We've got our finger on the pulse of events that could sway your sales strategy and decision-making process. Staying in tune with these events will help you see a bigger playing field your customers operate within.
Here’s what’s on the radar for the week:
ISM Services on the Spotlight: Kicking off on Monday, February 5th, the ISM services report is set to roll out, shining a light on the pulse of the U.S. service sector. A forecast of 52 signals growth, suggesting an optimistic start to the month. The index is a critical barometer for service sector health, paralleling its manufacturing counterpart in influence and insight.
Earnings Extravaganza: The week also heralds a flurry of earnings reports from corporate heavyweights, including Caterpillar, Palantir, McDonald's, Eli Lilly, Spotify, Uber, Walt Disney, Cloudflare, and PepsiCo. These disclosures provide a window into corporate health and market trends, potentially guiding investment and business decisions.
Job Market Jitters: Wrapping up the week, the initial jobless claims report on Thursday, February 8th, will offer the latest on employment trends. This indicator tracks the number of individuals filing for unemployment benefits for the first time, serving as a barometer for job market vitality.
Takeaway: Staying informed about these markers can empower your strategies and keep you ahead in the game. Keeping a pulse on the economic landscape can be invaluable to how much value you bring to the table.
Action It: Don’t let these pivotal moments pass you by. Explore how these market trends impact your customers and their industries.
Offer fine tuned solutions that align with the market is a way to deliver for your customers and prospect.
And if staying ahead of market trends is crucial to you, consider signing up for our Market Mover insights to never miss an update.
Nurturing Success Beyond the Sale
Align Customer Success Early On
Introducing your Customer Success Manager (CSM) at the tail end of the sales cycle isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a strategic move that sets the stage for long-term success. Why wait until after the ink has dried? Engaging your CSM while the decision-makers are still at the table ensures a seamless transition from sale to success.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Strategic Timing for Maximum Impact
The perfect moment for this introduction? Right when you're about to close the deal. This timing ensures that the momentum of the sales process carries over into the onboarding phase, making the handover to your CSM as smooth as possible. It's like saying, "Here's the key to unlocking the full potential of what you're about to purchase."
The 'Why' Behind the Strategy
This approach is about more than just ensuring your customer knows who to call for support. It's about starting the conversation on what success looks like for them. It's a commitment to their outcomes, not just to the transaction.
Bringing Value from the Start
Your CSM isn't just another point of contact; they're your customer's partner in achieving their goals. By introducing them early, you're showing that you're invested in not just meeting but exceeding expectations. This isn't about closing a sale; it's about opening a relationship.
Action Steps for Seamless Integration
Customer-Centric Focus: Always put the customer's needs and success first.
Timely Introduction: Make the introduction when the deal is almost closed to keep all stakeholders engaged.
Success Planning: Have the CSM discuss the customer's definition of success and how to achieve it.
Leverage Insights: Use data and experience to offer personalized solutions.
Ongoing Engagement: Ensure the CSM stays connected to guide the customer's journey to success.
Why It Matters Incorporating your CSM early in the process transforms a transaction into a partnership. It signals to the customer that their success is your priority, leading to higher retention rates, more opportunities for upselling and cross-selling, and turning satisfied customers into advocates.
The Bottom Line Introducing your Customer Success Manager before the deal is fully closed bridges the gap between sales and service, ensuring a smooth transition and a strong foundation for ongoing success. It's a testament to your commitment to not just meet, but exceed, customer expectations, laying the groundwork for a partnership that grows and evolves.
Step Aside AI
In this digital age, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we work, technical skills are often the most important thing.
But Aytekin Tank, CEO of Jotform, brings up a very important side that is often overlooked: soft skills. Emotional intelligence, adaptability, and empathy are some of the people skills that help workers do their best.
A recent Adobe study shows that a third of Gen Z employees want more training in soft skills, showing that the need for them is clear.
And getting along with your coworkers isn't enough; you also need to know how to handle the more difficult people parts of your job. When you talk to different groups of people or build work relationships, soft skills are important.
Tank doesn't build these skills through formal training. Instead, he creates a setting where they grow . This means valuing input, keeping lines of communication open, and encouraging openness.
Create your powerful future with the right balance of soft and hard skills
People from all over Jotform get together once a week for all-hands talks and practice days. These events help people talk to each other and come up with new ideas.
One way to stand out is to lead with empathy. See people as their authentic selves, not just as workers, prospects, or customers.
Remember that all people have lives outside of work. Value the different skills they bring to the business. If you show understanding, people will engage and get excited about your goals and be open to your ideas.
Businesses continue to be transformed by AI, so you ought to consider spending money on growing stronger in soft skills, right alongside your tech competencies.
Tank and leaders like him show how important it is to help people learn soft skills to meet the challenges and opportunities in an AI-driven world. It's a business plan and promise to help the company and its workers grow.