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Hiring A Salesperson With Customer Service Skills

Salesperson woth Customer Service skills

What skills, traits, and experience do you look for when hiring a new sales team member? Do you look for someone with industry experience, a list of contacts (aka a Rolodex), the ability to make conversation, or the confidence to ask for the sale? With an endless list of criteria, you can use to hire, it can be challenging to narrow down what’s most important. So here are some surprising traits you'll want to look for.

Typical Sales Hires

In most cases, companies can teach new hires about their industry. But there are some essential skills and traits that help salespeople be successful that can be harder to teach and often get overlooked in the hiring process.

Ultimately, you want the right salesperson who fits your organizational culture, drives your sales process, and generates profitable revenue. So while your next new hire needs strong selling skills, they also need customer service skills.

Customer Service vs. Salespeople

When you think about a customer service person and a salesperson, you probably believe that they are two different roles with little crossover, right? Ultimately, when it comes down to it, a salesperson sells, and a customer service person serves, case and point.

Well, according to Salesforce, five of the top skills of a customer service person are:

  • Persuasive Speaking Skills
  • Empathy
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to Use Positive Language
  • Clear Communication Skills

According to EdApp microlearning blog, the top five skills of a salesperson are:

  • Product Knowledge
  • Active Listening
  • Empathy
  • Relationship building
  • Effective communication

From these two shortlists, you can see quite a bit of crossover between salespeople and customer service people. They are both responsible for meeting the customer's needs, just at different points in the sales process.

Here is why you want to look for effective customer service skills when hiring your next salesperson.

How to Utilize Customer Service Skills

Sales leaders know customers purchase from specific companies in part because of relationships. But what's less understood is the link between these relationships and customer service.

Persuasive Speaking Skills

Without a doubt, persuasive speaking is an important selling skill. Every day your salespeople turn customer challenges into solutions and build and retain relationships. According to Salesforce Research, "89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience." It's that effective.

Before making a hiring decision, make sure your prospective salesperson can speak confidently and positively and offer the kind of compelling conversation that can turn your customers into brand loyalists.

Empathy

No list of good customer service skills is complete without empathy. However, it is just as crucial for salespeople, if not more.

Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to another person's emotions and understand their perspective. As a result, salespeople can create emotional connections and build long-term relationships with customers.

Prospects often won't buy from someone who doesn't consider their feelings and opinions. According to Salesforce Research, "63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations, while 76% of B2B buyers expect the same thing." So, when a customer shares their struggles, a great salesperson doesn't just sympathize but also deeply understands their pain points, underlying emotions, and business needs.

Adaptability

Being adaptable means you respond willingly to the moment's demands and problem-solve, even if that pulls you away from your schedule for that day.

When working with prospects and customers, your days will never be just "copy and paste." On any given day, you could interact with someone via phone, email, social media, chat, in-person, etc. This means you must be able to adapt and communicate in several different ways.

According to Ameyo, "57% of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support." So over half of your customers would like you to contact them digitally rather than over the phone. The others don't mind talking in person or over the phone, and some may even prefer it.

Good salespeople need the mental flexibility to respond to various situations in whichever way their customers prefer at that given moment.

Ability to Use Positive Language

If your current customer reaches out to you unexpectedly, chances are it's because they have a problem. Your job is to approach the problem with a positive attitude, despite the customer's frustration, and try to empathize and lead them to a positive outcome.

Positive words such as "definitely," "certainly," "fantastic," and "terrific" all trigger optimistic feelings. These words put customers in a more positive frame of mind, which makes it easier to sell to and build relationships with them. The book Words that Sell, by Richard Bayan, is a thesaurus for sales and marketing professionals that contains more than 6,000 persuasive, positive words and phrases.

Clear Communication Skills

Like customer service people, salespeople spend most of their time communicating. They need to communicate with the customer and internal teams, as well as others. Effective written and verbal communication skills are fundamental strengths your salespeople need to build and maintain relationships with customers.

Your salespeople need to understand that tone and manner of delivery also matter. Mumbling, losing focus, or using vague language can be the source of many dissatisfied customer experiences. A study by American Express states, "One-third of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service." So always try to make any customer interaction a positive one.

In The End

By using the top customer service skills as part of your criteria for your next sales hire, you will be giving your customers the service they need in each stage of your sales process. This can also increase your customer engagement and overall customer satisfaction. Higher customer engagement means your salespeople can build lasting relationships that will lead to more predictable and sustainable growth.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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