Adding Sales to a Service Culture
by Susan Hash
Many centers now have some sort of sales component in place—whether it's add–on
sales for special promotions or full–on solutions–based selling. While
companies have gotten smarter about the technology and tools to support sales, many
centers are still not successfully handling the cultural transition from service
Why? There are two key obstacles: A culture change requires management time and
effort, which are often in short supply in contact centers; and many centers have
an ill–defined strategy. When introducing sales into the service environment,
managers often start by focusing on the incentives, even though they don't have
a strategy for what they want to accomplish. The following are a few tips to help
you determine your center's goals for moving from service to sales.
Define the products and/or services that agents will sell.
Whether you're starting from scratch or you're trying to improve a sales process
that's already in place, begin by carefully defining which products and/or services
you want agents to sell. Sounds simple, right? Yet so many centers skip this critical
step in their rush to start turning a profit. Another common mistake is expecting
agents to sell all of the company's products, which often is not realistic, especially
if your company carries an extensive product line. Think about what you want your
center to be—a product channel or an entry point? Do your agents handle a
high volume of basic requests or are they able to spend time building relationships?
Define the sales process.
Once you've outlined a strategy, it's easier to figure out how the sales process
will work. For instance, if your center's role is to be an information source, many
of your calls will be routine inquiries, such as: what is my balance or did my check
clear? Those inquiries can be handled quickly, and then agents can be prompted with
a likely product to offer to that customer. If, on the other hand, agents handle
more complex transactions, they will have time to get to know more about the caller,
understand his or her needs and then make more legitimate product cross–sells
or upsells. Be sure to always consider the ultimate goal. It doesn't make sense
for an agent to spend 15 minutes talking to a customer if his talk–time goal
is two minutes and that is how he is rewarded.
Define the appropriate skill set.
Defining what you want agents to do will help you to determine the appropriate mix
of customer service and sales skills for your center. It ranges from a pure customer
service role, in which any type of sales that occur is considered a nice add–on,
to a hard sales approach where sales is the primary focus. For most inbound centers,
the service comes first, and agents are trained to look for genuine opportunities
to offer appropriate products.
Define service–oriented sales goals.
Sales quotas often are the source of performance problems in call centers. A common
mistake that managers make is setting arbitrary quotas for sales (e.g., "agents
must sell X number of Product A"). These types of goals drive the wrong types of
behavior for a service–centric center. Agents typically start pushing those
products on customers regardless of need or desire. They end up wasting time on
calls dealing with objections from customers who don't want the products. The result:
close ratios drop, average handle time increases and customer satisfaction nosedives.
Inside View — Extra Space Storage
by Susan Hash
At a time when many organizations were outsourcing some or all of their call center
functions, Extra Space Storage was finalizing its plans to bring the center back
in house and revise its call–routing strategy. Opening a new call center while
changing the nature of the operation at the same time presented a few challenges
for management. In the end, a phased–in approach, extensive communications,
integrated cloud computing suite, and a focus on thorough training resulted in lower
abandon rates and cost per call, while sales conversion rates have nearly doubled.
full story here.