This is a claim that a post on the Sales Force blog claimed back in August and was recently brought to my attention by a customer.
Is it True? I’m not really here to discuss whether it is or not, but rather, how claims like this can mislead people into thinking something is true when common sense should tell you otherwise. I wanted to take a few minutes to pick this particular claim apart and hopefully provide a logical grounding point for considering the truth of claims we read in the future.
First lets think about the claim itself. To do this we need to determine what it’s claiming, and the percentage is not it. The claim is all about Customer Loyalty, the percentage is a side show. So what is Customer Loyalty? I would define Customer Loyalty as something a customer has, after purchasing a product from a company. Note the keyword after because you can’t really have Loyalty to something you don’t yet have. I’m in no way saying that a prepared and professional sales staff won’t help with overall customer feelings, but the best staff selling a crappy product will not yield loyalty in any form.
It’s my opinion that a lot of the companies pushing CRM, do so in a way that tries to give too much credit to the sales staff alone. I guess it makes sense because they do usually start in the sales department, but there is so much more that goes into Customer Loyalty and keeping your customers happy. I would say the vast percentage falls squarely in the post sale arena than in the sales side itself.
Again, lets not get the wrong idea here. The sales rep that I speak with about a product has a lot to do with whether I consider that company professional enough and desirous enough to do business with them. They are the first step in a sometimes very lengthy process and them dropping balls and not calling me back and not providing me with the proper answers to my questions, will be the first step in my NOT purchasing their product. But can you say that they have obtained loyalty at this stage? Can you claim that the sales person alone gained that loyalty?
To do so would seem to discount the rest of the company that in fact, gave the salesperson something to sell to begin with.
Would you purchase Lizzy just because our sales rep answered all your questions? Even if the product didn’t do as they claimed and was slow to use? Would you stay loyal to the company just because a certain sales person rocked your world? Would you be willing to put up with a support staff that was rude and never called you back?
I think not!
So the point here is that while you need a professional and well equipped sales staff, you can’t ever be misled into thinking they are more important than the people creating the products they sale. It takes a team to sell products and trying to give more or less credit to one part over another serves no purpose but to discourage.
Could your sales staff sell if there were no products?
Now lets talk about that 53% specifically quoted in the article. Really? 53%? We can make a measurement so detailed as to claim the sales staff are responsible for 53% and not 52%, or 58% of Customer Loyalty? This really brings us to a much larger topic of surveys and opinions which frustrate me on a daily basis. Pick a topic and find a survey to support whatever your opinion is on that topic. Give someone else the job to find a survey opposing your results and I guarantee you they can.
How you ask?
Its simple, depending on how you word your questions and who you ask them to, you will get different answers. Its a more than proven fact. If you don’t like the results of a survey then just do another one and ask the questions differently.
The point is, never give too much credence to poles or surveys because depending on how they were designed and who benefits from their results, they may ore may not reflect the truth. This particular one is completely false in my book, but that is my opinion and a sales person may stand up and tell me I’m crazy? Am I crazy, or do I just have a different perspective than him? (ok, maybe I am crazy but that isn’t the point).
At the end of the day, you need to identify the things that you think will help you run your company and help you focus on the things that are important. Just don’t be tricked into thinking things are important without supplying ample doses of common sense first.