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How to Build Sales Skills in Your Customer Service Team

The role of the traditional customer service center is changing. Increasing contact center costs (studies show that in some industries, call centers can account for as much as 20 to 30% of a company’s entire operating budget), combined with never-ending demands to boost revenues and profitability, have lead companies to rely on their service staff to help contribute to the bottom line.

This article will provide you with tips for effectively combining sales training with the use of customer service software to give your agents the tools and knowledge they need to conduct successful telesales.

Inbound Sales

Like many businesses, you are challenged with transforming your service staff from problem solvers into revenue generators. You won’t be able to turn them into sales pros overnight, so start with small steps.

Take a good, hard look at the inbound transactions they already handle, and determine what sales opportunities may exist within them. With the exception of customer complaints or problems (which are never a good time to make a sales pitch), a large portion of those calls may have the potential for some up-sell or cross-sell revenue. Your agents should be trained to effectively spot and leverage those opportunities, using “soft sell” techniques, as they arise.

For example, if your service staff processes sales orders, they can help increase the value of each order they take by suggesting additional items that complement the ones the customer is already purchasing. If they field routine questions and inquiries, they can recommend additional products or services, or inform clients of current promotions or discounts.

Training can be accomplished in several ways. Your own direct sales staff can lend a hand, and provide some valuable insight into successful selling strategies. Or, you can hire an outside consultant, or send agents to courses available through a variety of reputable industry associations.

Once training is complete, customer service software can help facilitate these sales by giving contact center agents complete visibility into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. They can accurately identify which products or services a client already owns or subscribes to, and which ones they have expressed and interest in, so they can make informed and targeted recommendations and increase sales success.

Outbound Sales

Not all your contact center agents will acquire the skills they need to really drive revenue. But, there will be a few who will demonstrate a true knack for telesales. These staff members should be tapped to take on some outbound initiatives.

First, you’ll need to make sure you’re leveraging all the self-service functionality within your customer service software package. This will help you offload routine information requests and reduce some of your service team’s workload, so you can free up these agents to conduct outbound telesales campaigns, without negatively impacting service delivery.

Then, teach those staff members how to use the information contained within your customer service software to identify potential sales targets, and thoroughly train them in “hard sell” strategies. They can then serve as an extension of your sales department – closing smaller, less intricate deals so more experienced reps can focus on larger, more complex opportunities.