Yesterday a financial advisor presented a perfectly logical plan for managing my long-term savings. It would save me time and make money, the arguments were compelling.
But I kicked against it. Why? Call me a child of the Internet age, I don’t like being sold to. I want selection. I want comparison. I want to choose.
Today, I’m meeting a sales director, and we’re talking about sales team compensation. Our sales staff are paid on commission. Not on the quality of their service, or whether they offered follow-up help. Customer has a problem after they’ve bought the product? Not my problem. Customer wants help with transacting online? Not my problem.
So like the financial advisor, we’re operating a bit in the dark ages — selling hard, as if the customer hasn’t got a thousand other options at their fingertips, as if our customers haven’t told us — and they have — that they want choice and service.
It isn’t hard to figure out how to change this. Reduce commission, increase base, stop hiring divas, start hiring service oriented team players. Measure service quality, and reward it. I ask the sales director: why on earth haven’t we changed?
The answer: FEAR.
Fear that the top sellers will leave. Fear that when they do that, customers will stop buying. Fear that it’s hard work to recruit quality staff. Fear that it’s hard work to train staff to be the expert, customer-oriented, multi-channel staff that we need them to be.
Personally, I’m more afraid of standing still in the dark.