Top 3 Lessons in Selling from the Post Office

Stunningly, its finally been made more public just how bad the U.S. Postal Service's system has gotten.

“The U.S. Postal Service must reduce its operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in order to return to profitability,” said David Williams, vice president of network operations at the US Postal Service, in a prepared statement.

Excuse me, $20 Billion with a B? And you thought YOU had sales, customer service, and operations issues?

Many of us don't go to the post office anymore but I found myself there yesterday with some packages that seemed easier to run over than to weigh myself (I have since changed my mind). What amazes me is that the same issues are within the post office as have been for years - here are my top 3.

1. Don't treat your customers like they are an interruption. It has never changed in ALL my years of going to a post office - the workers are working to get the work done. They truly have lots of things to do. You, as customer are sort of a bother, and sometimes a big bother. In fact, you are so much of a problem that they cannot open another counter when one employee has a line of 8 or 10 people waiting (my experience just yesterday). Ten people waiting as the clerk hand stamps each and every package I am sending out. She cannot get anyone else to open another counter. People in line are not just mad, they are outraged. This is a long-standing leadership issue from the top.

2. Improve your branding. Now that many people do not even set foot into your offices, it is time to improve your marketing strategy in line with the "new" postal service this spring. You should not be thought of as a place - but an awesome service - at least I have found that once I got through the poor customer service at the post office, the actual service works very well. Of course the new cuts removing mail delivery on Saturday and slowing down delivery times will change that some. This is what Canadians have dealt with for some time - no mail delivery on Saturday, and slower mail delivery all around. It won't be the end of the world - so make sure your PR and marketing reflect the good points of what will be happening.

(note: I'd start fresh with the USPS's Facebook page if I were them - either get someone funny to address what is going on, or tackle people's many frustrated comments - this is one Facebook page that does not seem to serve the organization well.)

3. Understand and Connect to Your Customer Segments - besides junk mail... your biggest niche - who ELSE is a loyal customer? Think of the drip marketing campaign the post office could do, over time, to segment out their best pieces of the market and focus on growing those, as they make cuts in the budget. It is not an impossibility - although, I have to say, the more we researched this topic, the more we see how great the private sector has taken so much of the PO's market share.

Since our focus is on helping people sell, and not in improving operations, we are focusing this on the obvious. What else should the P.O. do, or is it too late? Would love to hear what business ops experts like Les McKeown of Predictable Success would suggest?

Lori Richardson writes, speaks, trains, and mentors sales people and sales teams to greater revenues. She focuses on process, tools, and inspiration - all necessary pieces of business building. Get Sales Ideas in a Minute with short valuable tips on tactical ways to grow sales. Visit Score More Sales and let us know how we can help you shorten your sales cycle or close business better.

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