Why selling on service is over-valued

Posted by Matthew Parker

Do you want to hear a scary statistic about customer service?

80% of businesses believe that they deliver superior customer service.  However, only 8% of customers believe that they have experienced superior customer service. (See http://socialfresh.com/customer-service-social/ )

That’s quite a difference in customers’ and companies’ understanding of customer service.  It also demonstrates an important rule in selling printing services.

It is an error to base a print sales approach on customer service

how-to-sell-printing-services

Your customer may not react like this if you sell on your great service

Printing companies that understand this have a better chance of building good relationships with their prospects.  This is because they will be talking to their prospects about what sets them apart from the competition – not what makes them the same.

Printing companies that believe that a sales approach should highlight or even focus on customer service will struggle.  They are more likely to find it difficult to achieve the goals that they have set themselves. This is because their prospects are less likely to see anything that stands out.  So the buying decision will come down to price.

It’s important to remember a basic truth.

Excellent customer service is expected

Buyers expect their suppliers to deliver high standards of service.  It is taken as a given.  High levels of service are rarely an exciting sales proposition.  Buyers don’t see service as a differentiator.

Here are three other reasons why selling on service is a bad idea.

If you sell on service, you may be setting yourself up for a fall

Bear in mind that the majority of companies believe that they deliver excellent customer service.  In fact, four out of five companies think they are delivering superior customer service (i.e. above average customer service). So it stands to reason that not all companies achieve what they think they do.

It may be wise to have a long, hard look at your levels of customer service.  Are they really as good as you think they are?  If you don’t deliver what the customer thinks you will deliver then you ill lose that business.

However, if you do have high levels of customer service you still have a problem.

The customer may not value your service even if it is good

Only 8% of customers say they have experienced superior levels of customer service. That means that some companies are probably working very hard to take care of their customers.  However, their customers do not truly appreciate the levels of service that they receive.

Is there any point on selling on service if the prospect or customer does not properly appreciate service?

There’s another issue too.

Selling on service makes your sales pitch the same as everyone else

I run sales workshops for printing companies. At these workshops, delegates are asked to introduce their companies as if they were pitching to buyers. Service is always a very common element of the initial introduction.  In the last 50 introductions I have seen at workshops, 33 companies highlighted their service.

Talking about service does not make your company stand out in the printing sector. It makes your company sound the same as many, many others.

Is good customer service unimportant?

Absolutely not!  Excellent customer service is vital if you are to retain customers.  It’s just not a compelling part of a sales pitch.

So what should you do instead?

Here’s a quick action point for you

Talk to your customers.  Find out what issues they face in their jobs.  If you sell on solving these issues prospects, you stand a much better chance of making a sale.

Just remember the 80% and the 8%.
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3 Responses to Why selling on service is over-valued

  • Matthew, I agree that service is very important. The mistake that many of us make is just saying that we are great at service in a generic way so there is no competitive differentiation. I might suggest that printers understand what they do better than their competitors by asking their customers and then make these items their competitive advantage. Their competitive advantage should be stated in a quantitative way so it is not generic but specific i.e., we ship 99% of our products on time or we answer 95% of our calls on the 3rd ring, etc.

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Bill, thanks for your comments. I agree that making something specific helps it stick much better in the prospect/customer’s mind.

  • Pingback: 3 features printing companies should avoid in a sales approach | Profitable Print Relationships

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