Service is NOT About the Sale

This spring, I decided to get serious about golf. A friend recommended a pro to me for lessons and I met with him to lay out a plan. Instead of four lessons per month, I wanted to take three lessons per month, but pay the pro to use that remaining lesson time as a “planning period” to focus on me and my goals. I didn’t want to have someone simply watch me play four times a month and critique my game; I didn’t want each lesson to be a one-off experience. I wanted the lessons to cumulatively work together to move me to the next level of my game. Because this is what Optimal clients desire—and what we provide—a holistic view of their technology environment and trajectory, I understood the work and planning this would take and I was willing to pay this pro to put it together for me, in line with my vision. I told him that if this was amenable, I would commit to a year of lessons using this model. At the mention of a year-long commitment, he became excited. That should have been my first clue.

I followed up by sending him my goals and emphasizing that they were extremely personal. I also sent him my scores from my last few rounds. I never received a response. I reached out one more time and when that email went unanswered, I told him I no longer wanted to work with him. Instead, I contacted another pro that came highly recommended. I entered into our first conversation very guarded because I had just been burned. However, after an hour-long conversation during which this pro dissected my goals and began to formulate a plan to meet milestones in line with where I want to take my game, I loosened up. This guy got it. Without any mention of a sale, a contract, or lessons, you could see his passion for the sport and his desire to make me better. He was the first one to follow up, requesting my scores. We met three times to discuss this approach before the possibility of working together was even mentioned. I’ve been working with him for three months now and I couldn’t be happier. He asks me to call him (at no charge) before I go play so he can give me a few things to focus on during that round. We have regular meetings about my progress toward my goals.

I’ve already referred a friend to him, and plan on referring more. He understands that an individual’s game and achievement goals are private and deserve respect. He acknowledges this by sharing his passion for the sport in an effort to help clients improve. We share a vision and I’m convinced he wants me to meet my goals just as much as I want myself to. This is honest and true service—service born from passion, not from the desperation of a sale.

Does good service contribute to bottom line revenue? Of course there is a correlation; people want to do business with companies that treat them well and exceed their expectations (he has already benefitted from my one referral and will soon benefit from others). However, if your service standards are only motivated by the sale (read: money), you’ll soon find your revenue—and reputation—swiftly declining.

  • Do you think most companies are motivated to provide good service because of the revenue and referral benefits or is there more to it?
  • Is there an organization that you do business with that provided superior service before money or some type of engagement was discussed?

Email me your response and check back for a reply.