If you’re in a Catch 22 situation, and thinking of doing the hard sell, don’t.

Selling has been replaced by serving.

If you can give the best service, then you’ll get the best sales.

Rather than talking about “Our Specials”, start talking about “You’re Special”.

Does this mean I’m saying you should soft sell? No – it means I’m saying we should serve hard.

Serve each other rather than sell yourself.

(P.S. Don’t mean to be so Seth Godin-esque, but sometimes, you can’t help it )

Archived Comments

  • http://twitter.com/robin_dickinson Robin Dickinson

    Cool, mate.

    Just for clarity – how specifically does the ‘hard customer service’ lead to the ‘best sales’…or any sales?

    Best, Robin :)

  • Scott Gould


    I love you. I really do. You challenge me like no one else, yet do it in the most encouraging way.

    The restaurant that gives the best service in town, gets the best sales. Best sales are sales that:
    – become repeat business
    – have more $$$ per transaction
    – are advocates and tell others

    Transfer this into a place that sells knowledge, and sure, you begin to have differences. But I maintain that rather than, as a knowledge worker, if you try to differentiate on price you’re fighting a loosing battle because knowledge has become so cheap…. but excellent SERVICE with that knowledge is still highly rare

    It does take salesman skills to then turn service into sales, I agree. But it will position you better

  • http://twitter.com/robin_dickinson Robin Dickinson

    Thanks for *your* encouragement.

    Now, down to business… ;)

    I was in a restaurant today and experienced a very clear distinction between ‘selling skills’ and ‘customer service skills’.

    In this case, the chef, ‘sold’ us every dish and beverage with such elegance and professionalism that I know the bill was enjoyably larger than I would have normally paid because of this. It was a ‘best’ sale.

    Sure, the service was good, the ambiance wonderful and the experience was remarkable – but the sale was a sale, and selling is selling. As tempting as it is to lump them together, doing so can cost sales short and long-term.

    I’ve experienced many situations in my consulting business where people assumed that great service lead to great sales, and it simply wasn’t the case.

    Love your short-post format.

    Great job.

    Robin :)

  • Scott Gould

    So I would say that the Chef who was “Selling” was actually “Serving” – or even better – was giving you an experience.

    So sure it wasn’t matched up with the service that followed, but the whole thing was an experience.

    When you get down to it – I guess yes – you can’t mix the two. And you mess people around if you tell them not to sell, because you must be able to close the deal. But the whole overall impression is one of serving as opposed to hard selling, no?

  • http://twitter.com/robin_dickinson Robin Dickinson

    Sure, it’s just a different skill set. I’ve spend hundreds of hours teaching customer service people how to sell and sales people how to serve.

    It’s very powerful when you have people who combine the two.

    Note: at no point do I support the relationship-destroying action of hard selling.

    Best, Robin :)

  • Scott Gould

    I humbly agree. Thanks for talking it through.

    This is the danger of having nice sayings that have aliteration but aren’t really correct!

  • http://www.thrivingmind.org/ Rani Bora

    Hi Scott and Robin,

    Agree – Assuming great service leads to great sales leads to disappointment, both for the salesperson and the customer. I once received excellent customer service and acknowledged the person for his skills :) However I was not going to buy despite it and the salesperson, out of desperation, tried even harder and harder to convince me. Soon I could see through it all. He was using all his skills to make me feel “I was special” at a superficial level. What he failed to understand was that, I as a customer had no obligation to buy if I still didn’t want to. His body language gave way and communicated something like “I have wasted my time here”. While serving hard with the “You are special” hat on is definitely commendable, authenticity is key.

    Best wishes,


  • Scott Gould

    “authenticity is key” – totally. And unless you believe “you are special” then theres no pooint.

    Have you read Pine and Gilmores book on Authenticity? Excellent for things like this.

  • http://twitter.com/WildChildinAUS Carolyne Wildman

    Hi Scott,
    Yikes! Are you always this magisterial in your posts? The art of selling is thousands of years old and I’m not convinced it will ever be *replaced* by anything; however, great service can certainly be one of the features offered by a great salesperson.
    Perhaps it’s the brevity of your post that misleads me – an inchoate idea pushed out on the track before the legs have fully sprouted.
    I wonder if you became attached to the interesting play on words between “our specials” and “you’re special” … and wanted to somehow use this concept before thinking deeply about the value of it’s meaning. It’s tempting to throw down snippets of amorphous thought and encourage others to put their hands to the potters wheel for shaping. This is the makings of common conversation, but not ‘challenging thinking’ n’est pas?
    I think you have much more to offer than this and I look forward to your next post.

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Carolyne

    As you can see below, had a discussion with Robin on this too.

    The overall point is that in an Experience Economy, the delivery and experience is the selling itself. The restaurant that has exceptional service is the one that is known around town. It’s advertising and sales is its service.

    But you’re right – I liked the wordplay that I came up with yesterday and ran with a half baked idea at 3am. Thanks for picking me up on it!


  • http://www.thrivingmind.org/ Rani Bora

    I haven’t no. Thanks for the recommendation. Have checked it on amazon – sounds like a very interesting read.

  • http://www.smithkennedy.co.uk/ Witney Accountants

    Scott I am not sure that I totally agree with you on this one. I could have a product called handing out £10 notes for free (great service believe me) but I dont tell anyone about it I wont have the opportunity to serve! Once you get going then the service sells itself but getting going surely you have to put your head above the parapet. Alan Kennedy

  • http://twitter.com/WildChildinAUS Carolyne Wildman

    Hi Scott,
    I know the feeling – I too have fallen victim to the idea that sounds brilliant at 3am and less than great at 8am ;)
    But at the very least it provided a springboard for another conversation when Robin & I talked about it over coffee the next day!
    Love your humbleness!
    Cheers, Carolyne

  • Scott Gould

    And thanks for your humbleness too!

  • Scott Gould

    If you were giving out £10 – ppl would hear about it very quickly