by Lisa Pustelak, Employee Development Specialist, LEDGE Enterprises

There are an abundance of customer service representatives that have to meet certain sales metrics in order to retain their position in today’s ever changing and competitive marketplace.

Some people can naturally adjust and survive; the majority however, hangs on tight to the mindset that “I can’t sell” and either struggle or end up being let go. Leading and managing a team of people with a title of customer service, with a responsibility to sell, can be a challenge.

The first reason why customer service oriented employees have a difficult time selling is that they don’t believe they can. People create beliefs that selling is something you do ‘to’ someone versus something you do ‘for’ someone. Selling is a swear word for some. This comes from the myths of the ‘used car salesman’ approaches that have been around for years. In Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, he does a fantastic job of explaining that we all sell no matter what our role is. Parents sell to their children, teachers sell to students, lawyers sell their desired verdict to a jury, and doctor’s sell remedies to patients. He explains, “We’re moving other people to part with resources –whether something tangible like cash or intangible like effort or attention — so that we both get what we want.” Mr. Pink proves that no matter our profession, we all do a certain amount of ‘selling’.

The first thing you should work on with your team is mindset. Do NOT allow anyone to voice the words “I can’t.” This is one of my favorite concepts to help people understand. The words “I can’t” indicate you are not in control and typically several excuses will follow those two words. Have them replace “I can’t” with “I won’t.” Try this for yourself for anything, not just selling and you will find it is a powerful tool. By using “I won’t” it eliminates any excuses, now it’s a choice. My guess is most people on your team, if they are the right people for the job, will realize quickly that they are choosing not to sell a product or service.

The second reason is that they don’t know how to sell. Once the mindset is on the right track, start looking at the skill levels on your team. Do your people know HOW to sell? Do you have a sales process that can be easily duplicated? Do they use it? Do they greet customers properly? Do they know how to do proper discovery? Do they know how to offer a solution or close a sale? Are they asking for help and support with in your company and study the plethora of information on selling in the manufacturing industry?

Leading customer service representatives to becoming superstar sales professionals will take time, but it’s something you CAN do! As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” It takes time to transform a team. Take that first step today and lead your team to the right mindset around selling.

Lisa Pustelak is an Employee Development Specialist who helps manufacturing companies increase sales, improve customer service, and boost employee morale.