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Customer Service Revival

By Cherilyn Lester
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

Sales today is filled with stereotypes. The “sleazy car salesman”, the “annoying telemarketer”, and the ever-present “pushy commission salesman”. And in the sales profession, we may not realize it – but we do think of other people in our profession this way sometimes. Now, this may not be because of our vision of them – it may, in fact, be because of their vision of us as customers, and their knowledge of the sales process.

We all know that the profession of sales has a stigma attached to it. If you’re a salesperson, you are pushy, rude, overbearing, and only want money – at least, that is the common misconception. And although you may not want to hear it, this is true of some. Those obnoxious, pretentious and sometimes even nauseating individuals, who are the primary reason for a bad outlook on salespeople. They are not doing this intentionally, though. They just do not know sales the way they should know sales.

Think of this. You are struggling your way through aisles upon aisles of items, arms full, and have forgotten a basket. You see an employee walk by, and look. One of two things could happen.

The uneducated sales person would continue to walk by, never to be seen again as they hunt for a more “worthy” prospect. However, the educated salesperson would handle this differently.

You would see them walk by, and think nothing of it. All of a sudden, a friendly voice comes from behind you “Here you go. You looked like you could use some help.”

The employee hands you a basket with a smile. They take a look at the items in your basket, and ask if you have any questions. You tell them that you were wondering which cleaner is better on your flooring. The salesperson responds with a smile, and proceeds to give you information on each floor cleaning product. You thank them, and with another smile, the salesperson informs you of where you can find someone to answer any other questions, and continues down the aisle.

Which person helped the customer more? Which person just made a sale, however small, where the other hadn’t seen one?

The more important question to ask yourself though, is which salesperson are you.

This may or may not be a situation you can relate to. But if you have been helped in this way, you will surely remember it. And you will probably go back there again, hoping for the same great experience. But at least one of your customers can relate to this experience, and look back with a smile. Shouldn’t all of them?

It should be every salesperson’s goal to genuinely help their customers. Instead of being the uneducated salesperson, try this. Rather than recommending a certain product, or completely ignoring a browsing customer, try to figure out what they really need. Use a random act of kindness as an icebreaker – in this case, a basket to someone who needed it. Ask if they need assistance with anything. Give them information on all products they might be interested in. Answer any other questions, tell them where you will be, and politely leave them to their decision. This might seem simple, but you will be amazed at the response. Higher customer satisfaction, more return customers, more referrals, and more sales. Just from a smile, a question, and leaving them be.

About the Author
Cherilyn Lester is an accomplished sales professional and is currently involved in sales training for retail establishments. Most training is done at a distance, providing an easy resource for companies around the globe on a contract basis. You can reach her at


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