Here’s the story. I was fixing our breakfast when my wife asked why I wasn’t using the microwave egg poaching device she had recently purchased as a gift for me. Well, frankly, I had forgotten about it and had strong reservations about its efficacy. So I wasn’t all that interested in trying it out. Maybe I was hoping she’d forgotten about it too.
I promised I’d try it out next time. And, a few weeks later (I kept forgetting) I did get around to trying it. I thought I read the directions carefully, but I either didn’t or was very distracted. I forgot to put a teaspoon of water in with each egg. They were
over cooked and even exploded a bit. I tried a second time, making sure to follow all the directions carefully. The eggs came out under cooked, by a lot. So I stuck them back in for a short zap. Over cooked. A third and last try with equally poor results—into the trash with the microwave poacher.
Now here’s the thing. I don’t believe I ever complained about poaching eggs. I didn’t have a problem to be solved. In fact, even if it had worked out, I’m not so sure how delighted I’d be with the microwaving of the “poached” eggs. Frequently, I will poach eggs for my wife and fry my own eggs. I do this because I love her and don’t mind the extra “work” of making something different for her. She does most of the work around the house, so I figure it’s the least I can do for her. And I pretty much know how to get the poached eggs to come out the way (I believe) she wants them—every time. Okay, most of the time. Whites fully cooked, yokes runny.
As all of this was happening, I read a post about the difference between customer service and sales. Customer service has a goal of being certain that a customer gets what s/he wants. They are concerned about your experience as a customer. Is the product/service meeting your expectations? Do you need any help understanding how to use it? Please make sure you call us or start a chat on our website if there is anything you need. Thank you for being our customer, we hope to serve you again in the future. Contrast that mindset to sales:
With sales, the goal is exactly that — to SELL! Almost all sales people I know are incentivized to sell because a significant portion of their income is commissions paid on revenue or gross margin. They are paid to make sure they “get the order off your desk.” And they are good at it. They are highly paid and highly trained. They know how to uncover your perceived pain. If there is no pain, they will do their best to show you why you should be in pain and how they can relieve that pain—that pain you don’t have but should have.
Now, I also know that every salesperson out there is going to claim they don’t do that. They claim they are more sophisticated. More customer oriented. They are consultative salespeople. To that I politely say—BS. I’ve been through all the sales training. I’ve also been through a lot of the purchasing training. I’ve managed very competent, highly paid salespeople, distributors and manufacturers’ representatives. We all had one goal and that was to book the business. We were highly paid to beat the competition and keep the revenues and commissions rolling in.
Get Rid of Sales
I’m working with a gentleman from a very large, national, electronic equipment distributor. For confidentiality reasons, I am not able to share the company name with you. But I’m confident many of you would know of this company. I am told that they are in the middle of eliminating sales. Not renaming it to some benign new name, but truly eliminating the function. There will only be customer service when they are done with the changes. No one will be paid to take orders off the desk through a sales process. They have recognized that the customer has done most of the work already and knows what they want to buy and from whom. This is a long sales cycle, a complex product to purchase and not at all a commodity. Those who are buyers do not want to see or hear from a salesperson.
I also work with a smaller company that provides a complicated printing service. They compete with the big guys printing flexible packaging products. And they win. They do not have and do not want to have salespeople. Instead, everyone in the company is focused on providing outstanding customer service. When things go wrong, they make it right for the customer—even when it’s the customer’s mistake.
Back to the Eggs
I’m sure my wife didn’t encounter a salesperson when she decided to pick up that gift for me. She simply thought it would be helpful and maybe save me some time or effort. I deeply appreciate the thought and love behind the gift. However, the device didn’t save any time, it wasn’t easier to clean, it didn’t give me the results I wanted and it was one more thing to go into the microwave. Which actually made it more difficult to have all the food come out at the same time. But more basic than that, I didn’t have a problem to be solved in the first place!
I can assure you that I do not hesitate to do my research and
buy when I do have a problem. And I’m not that much different than anyone else. So, if you’re trying to sell me something, then you are downright evil. Because if I need it or want it, I have it. If I need it or want it and don’t have it it’s because it is either too expensive for my budget or isn’t available yet. Either way, you do not have my best interest at heart if you’re selling. You’re only thinking about your commissions. Go away.
Technology Killed Sales
The underlying reason I can make the statements I’ve made is that I have, at my fingertips, the wherewithal to do my own research. I and my sales team used to be the source for that information. We were the ones guiding people through the first 75% of the sales process. And we had all the tactics for manipulating the prospect into buying. Now, sales has been replaced by internet search tools and all the vendor websites. But best yet, I can find user reviews by people who have already used the product or service. I don’t have to listen to the marketing and sales hype.
I can do a search, go to the second page of the organic search results (first page has too many ads and the people on the first page paid a lot of money for SEO to get them there. So I don’t trust it.) and find what I need. I can then find customer unsolicited testimonials to give me an idea of how the product or service might fit my needs in the long term. And finally, I can in many cases, place my order online. No fuss, no muss, no pushy salesperson. It’s a buyer’s dream.