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anonyjelly16's avatar

URGENT: Need arguments against merging the Sales and the Service/Support teams?

Asked by anonyjelly16 (747points) November 20th, 2008

A friend needs to make a presentation arguing against merging the sales and the service/support teams at his company.

Can you please post any arguments that might help support this position?

Thank you.

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15 Answers

bpeoples's avatar


One of them is responsible for creating new customers, the other is responsible for keeping existing customers happy?

Just seems like a bad mix =)

fireside's avatar

Really tough to say with so little info.
Different operating cultures is probably the best I could toss out there without knowing more about the business, the product/service, the current financial situation, etc.

rosadrake's avatar

If you merge the two team, they will do nothing but arguement all day
I think this is the best. LOL

jvgr's avatar

Hard to argue against the long term benefits based on the consolidations with which I’ve been involved .

The only negative aspects are short term and usually involve non business related issues like turf wars, personal preferences…

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Depends on the size of the organization. Sales, Product Development, Sales/Service and Marketing are all separate functions that could report up through the same chain, but the departments need to stay separate.

What’s the industry?

wundayatta's avatar

It all depends on what the incentives reward. If you merge the two, and maintain higher rewards for sales, then you’ll get lots of new customers, and they’ll be out the door just as fast, when they realize they aren’t gettng good service.

If you incentivize good service, and skimp on sales, it will take longer, but eventually customers will find you (after getting tired of all those other companies that didn’t care about service).

It is practically impossible to design an incentive system that rewards desired behaviors appropriately, if they have to be the same person. However, there is some value in having salespeople do service, so they can understand what their customers really want.

Actually, I think it can be good to merge both teams, even if the jobs are separate. Communication between service and sales is so important. That could facilitate the comunication.

What if the two functions hate each other? Service is complaining that sales over-promises. Sales thinks that service is a bunch of whiners. Would it be better for them to have to spend time together, and hear about each other’s problems, or would that create too much acrimony, and so you should keep them very separate?

One argument in favor of separation is that the functions are quite different, and it would be counterproductive to have folks spending time in meetings that had nothing to do with them.

Overall, however, I think it’s better to combine them. Sorry.

smendler's avatar

Sounds like there’s actually a missing function: “account management.” Acct Managers make sure the customer is happy on an onoing basis, which frees up the salesforce to do what they do best (sell). They also keep Customer Service honest by acting as a client advocate, proactively making sure that CS is responding promptly & clearing up problems as per any SLAs (service level agreements) in force. So rather than merging the teams, I’d look into taking some folks from each team & making them acct managers. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on your organization’s size and other factors.)

steelmarket's avatar

In many companies, the separation of sales and support provides a checks-and-balances function, mainly to keep sales from making unrealistic promises just to make their numbers.

wundayatta's avatar

@steelmarket: Huh? I’ve found it to be the other way around. If salespeople don’t do service, or at least hear from service regularly, they almost always make unrealistic promises. Feedback is key.

@smendler: interesting idea. Although it adds another level of bureacracy that hampers real communication. Managed properly, though, it might work.

smendler's avatar

@daloon: Yes – you have to have very good communication across functions to avoid “silo-ism,” and well-defined responsibilities and procedures… and a culture that values cooperation!

wundayatta's avatar

@smendler: you sound like you have experience. Do you know whereof you speak?

Me: I’m just blowing smoke, mostly.

steelmarket's avatar

@daloon, my experience where sales and service were under one umbrella was that out-of-line sales promises were cleaned up by the service group. It was useless for the service group to complain to their boss, who was the Sales Manager, because he kowtowed to the salesmen. And, since one boss was over sales and service, the general management never heard the service dept’s complaints.

wundayatta's avatar

@steelmarket: yes, it isn’t enough to put them together; you have to have a culture that understands service is crucial to keeping customers. Getting customers in the door is just a part of the equation. Important, yes, but I think we over-value sales people. My sales force, if I had one, would be taught that honesty is most important, and that pressuring clients to buy is counter-productive. God, do I wish I lived in a world where most businesses agreed with that philosophy.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Smendler brings up a good point—the best way to grow your business is to retain the business you currently have. You do that through account management and customer service. It’s much easier and cheaper to keep the customers you have, than to constantly be hemmoraging customers, and have to attract new ones.

Tomfafa's avatar

Sounds like a good idea… I want the guy that sold me the car (or product) to fix it!!!! It would surely go a long way towards keeping him honest.

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