There are two words of advice that all good salespeople and customer service reps know:
Customer service and sales are remarkably similar in this respect. When confronted with a prospect or a customer who has an issue, reps often immediately start talking, offering assistance and mostly trying to avoid the discomfort of silence. Salespeople do it too — throwing out every thing they know about the product and hoping the shotgun approach will work.
Both the customer service rep and the salesperson innately feel that if they are talking then they must be helping the customer. More often than not, they are making it worse.
Sales Lessons for Customer Service… from The Shark Tank
Since I don’t get to talk about sales much on this blog, let’s use this opportunity to look at an example from the sales world.
One of my favorite shows on television is Shark Tank, which has small business owners pitching a group of wealthy investors for business funding.
The ideas are for real businesses, and the investors invest their own funds if they like a concept.
I recently saw an episode where a very confident (to be nice about it) gentleman was trying to get Shark funding for a corporate sales training program. In his pitch, he basically presented himself as something just short of the greatest salesperson ever born — a pretty gutsy claim to make in a room full of high powered investors.
The funny part was that after a pitch filled with bravado and very aggressive performance claims, Shark Mark Cuban handed the gentleman a pen and gave him the age old interview role play “sell me this pen.” Now, in our own businesses, we have been using a version of this question forever, so I have a very good idea of what to look for when someone gets the question. (Hint: job applicants read below.)