Sales in Local Government?

By Richard Perrin *

Selling, cross selling and up selling can be valuable tools in Local Government and in government agencies. Nevertheless, many public service customer service professionals are reluctant to add these tools to their repertoire because of the ‘stigma’ often associated with selling, the lack of formal sales training and not knowing how selling forms part of the business of the public sector. Hence, learning and development professionals can play a key role in making a transition to a ‘sales culture’.

In the past, having the monopoly on products was usually enough to assure an acceptable level of customer service performance. However, many products are now available in the private sector and revenue streams have become more critical.

Governments and their agencies are relying on revenue streams to maintain services, and to minimise the cost to the community. Today more than ever, the public sector relies on the efficient management of intangible assets such as relationships, information, knowledge and capabilities.

Realising the true value of intangible assets requires that an organisation develop a plan/strategy that explains how sales are going to work to accomplish their broader goals. Whether the plan/strategy is based on innovation, cost leadership, customisation, logistical excellence and new technology, it must provide a rational, realistic and workable means to effectively focus and deploy the intangible assets in the working relationship.

How does you current customer service plan/strategy stack up? Do you feel as though you are constantly shifting priorities in response to changing management priorities? Is there a significant gap between what management hope to achieve and what actually happens? Do you have a general sense that you are working in isolation?

If you answered YES to any of these questions there is a good chance that your customer service plan/strategy could use some work. Essentially, the key to developing a sales culture, and building a capability within an organisation, is the ability to match what we do to the specific needs of each customer.

Improving sales will ultimately require some form of action or change of behaviour of your people. Taking action requires a valid and reliable problem solving process, a realistic and workable solution and a sound implementation plan. Learning and development professionals can have a key role in implementing a plan, and making a transition. Whether it is traditional consulting, executive briefings, team based work sessions or client specific research, experienced learning and development professionals can tailor an approach that best fits the structure and culture of a public sector organisation.

Effective facilitation can:

  • help determine the products to market, and the best methods
  • assess the performance of your current customer service employees
  • achieve growth by increasing the focus and alignment within your organisation
  • help to identify and eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies in your customer service and sales process
  • increase customer satisfaction by matching your delivered value proposition to the value expectations of your customers (this could involve mystery shopping).

Other learning and development related value added activities can include knowledge management training, competency management training and plans, learning management training and plans, talent management programs, performance management training and plans, compliance management training and plans and sales and service training and plans.

* Richard Perrin is the Learning and Development Officer at Campbelltown City Council. He can be contacted on (02) 4645 4462.