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Is Service Part of Selling?

By: John Chapin

Is Service Part of Selling

This week’s quote that prompted this article, “I like doing deliveries. I look at that as end-to-end sales. I sell it, make sure everything goes smoothly and then finally I deliver it and make sure they’re happy.”


On the surface, it sounds good, right? I mean that makes sense except for one thing: the definition of salesperson is someone who sells, not someone who sells it, takes care of all the paperwork, financing, etc., preps it, and finally delivers it.


I find that for whatever reason, whether it’s the fear of rejection, or simply not wanting to call on strangers because it’s hard to do, many salespeople will fill their day with service issues and other items that can easily be done by other people, and have little or nothing to do with the actual sales process. But, as the lifeblood of the organization, it is critical for salespeople to spend as much time as possible on sales tasks. Organizations survive, thrive, or die based on the level of sales revenue. If a company sells enough product, at a high enough profit margin, and doesn’t do anything illegal, it stays in business, if it doesn’t sell enough to pay the bills, it doesn’t stay in business. Sales keep everything else alive and moving. Yes, the other parts are important but with no sales or low sales, the company dies. As a result, your salespeople need to be freed up to sell as much as possible. This means having adequate support people for deliveries, billing questions, and other non-sales-related tasks.


Think of a salesperson like an airline pilot. They get the plane off the ground, land the plane, and handle any inflight emergencies. They aren’t back serving drinks or food to passengers, they don’t service the plane, put fuel in it, etc. Takeoff, landing, and inflight emergencies, that’s it. Imagine a pilot saying they wanted to serve the drinks and food, fill the plane with fuel, and fix any mechanical issues while the plane was sitting in the hangar. You’d think they were crazy, right? And you wouldn’t want to fly on that plane. Pilots don’t get paid for that, it’s not their expertise, and they would not necessarily be good at those other items, in any case, they definitely aren’t as good as the people who actually do those things, especially when it comes to mechanical upkeep of the plane. 


Ideally, in the perfect world, a salesperson would be prospecting, presenting, and closing 100% of the time to maximize revenue for the organization. Those are the three activities that lead to the salesperson’s goal: sales. In the real world, things look a little different. In the real world, the salesperson will have other activities they need to do such as paperwork, putting out fires with current customers, and doing some relationship building with current customers. There may also be times when they have to do something for a customer that they normally wouldn’t but, no one else is available, but this should be a rare exception. So, in the real world, the goal is prospecting, presenting, and closing 80% of the time during prime calling hours. Prime calling hours are the hours that prospects are available to be called on. 20% of that time may be used for emergencies, service items, and other things that need immediate attention. Any activities they do, such as paperwork and other non-time sensitive tasks, should be done off prime hours.


Salespeople are supposed to be busy in meetings with prospects during the day doing sales calls and not taking calls regarding administrative and other mundane items. The advantage of having support people doing non-sales related tasks such as handling billing issues, and other similar items, is not only can they get to those items quicker, but they are also better at getting them done. As a result, the customer actually gets better, quicker service when they deal with someone who is specially assigned to handle that. Some salespeople say that a customer will only deal with them, regardless of the issue, but trust me when I say that the customer does not care who handles their issue for them, they only care that it gets done as quickly and as painlessly as possible.


So, look, is service part of sales? Yes. Is it as much a part of sales as most salespeople make it? No. The reality is, the rep in the first paragraph might deliver equipment under one of three circumstances, one, this is the first delivery to a brand new customer who is also a potential large customer, one that can significantly impact your business, two, this is a delivery to a large customer, like the one just described, that you haven’t seen in a while, or three, there is no one else available to deliver the equipment. Hopefully this third case is rare.


The above said, what’s the definition of a salesperson, producer, agent, or whatever you call them in your business? Right, it’s to produce sales. It isn’t to do deliveries, it isn’t to answer billing questions or tell a customer where to send a check or do other basic, non-sales items, it’s to make sales and produce revenue for the company. That’s it.


Again, the only reason the amount of service ever comes into play in the sales discussion is that most of the mediocre and poor salespeople prefer to do service work because it’s easier than drumming up new business, it’s easier than talking to strangers and facing rejection.


John Chapin

#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages). 508-243-7359

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year, Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place.

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