Sales and Service– as different as they are, they need one another and need to figure out how to work well together. I’m sure in your company the two groups get along great!

Sales team vs service teamSometimes, though, things can get a little tough …

In this corner, wearing a chic business suit and a blue tooth ear piece… now you see ‘em, now you don’t, it’s the SALES Team. In this corner, wearing business casual, a headset and carrying the procedure manual, it’s the SERVICE team. Shake hands and come out with your gloves up.

Ok, it’s probably not a drag down knock out fight, but maybe you hear complaints from service that the sales people are pushy, disorganized and soooo last-minute about everything. Your sales peeps might grumble that the service folks are inflexible , don’t think outside the box and are worried about every detail.. And overall, there may be a LOT of griping.

What’s going on?!

This kind of friction happens when two groups of people with very different needs meet and try to work together.

As a general rule, everyone should have the shared company-wide objectives of profitability and excellent service. Without those two things, everyone would be out of a job!  However, when you set aside simple survival, you’ll find that the personal goals and motivators for people who rock at service are very different from those who rule at sales. And that’s where people tend to clash.

So how do you help two different types of people meet in the middle and stop the drama?

1)      Acknowledge the differences:

  • Your best service people want to keep customers happy and make sure every i is dotted and t is crossed. They need to feel prepared so they can make sure they get things right the first time. Having to rush, make guesses or break bad news to customers can be very stressful.
  • Your best sales people want to close as many deals as possible  and are  more focused on results than i’s and t’s. They know selling is a numbers game, so they can’t be worried about details. Having to stop and explain, keep answering questions or take copious notes can be infuriating.

In short, the things your sales people want are often opposite to the things your service people want. That’s ok, differences are what makes the world go ‘round.

2)      It helps to have ground rules: Agreeing on some very basic protocols can ease a lot of tensions. For example establishing a minimum amount of time for service to complete a project will make them feel less rushed. Having the sales people provide some specific information, including what has been promised, will make the first customer interaction more positive for the client and the service rep.

3)      Along the same lines… Communicate: The two teams (or at least the managers of the two teams) need to talk to each other frequently about goals, coverage issues, huge orders, common problems…anything that may come up and affect both departments.

4)      Encourage flexibility: While the service folks would love it if they could plan and prepare for every eventuality, that’s not always possible. It’s good for everyone to be a little flexible and prepared to innovate sometimes. Most will be willing to try something new if they have a basic plan to follow and know they aren’t going to do any major damage.

5)      Show appreciation:  Hey folks, don’t forget to say, “Thanks for your hard work!” That goes for everyone. People like to have their efforts recognized, and being appreciated makes the day more pleasant.

Want some more insight into managing the dynamics between sales and service? Check out our Team Dynamics Suite to help you understand and better manage your team!