Do Your Service and Support Reps Love to Sell?


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bigstockphoto business team copy Do Your Service and Support Reps Love to Sell?Or are they like these people…a bit resistant? With the economy still on the slow side, many companies have looked at ways to generate additional revenue through their customer service and support departments. Support reps who are asked to inquire about equipment upgrades or who are given a quota for maintenance contract renewals are not happy. Customer service reps who have to cross-sell catalog items or upsell order value want to get another job.

Why such a negative response to being asked to sell? Support reps go into the field because they like technology. Customer service reps love helping people and think that sales is a dirty word. Me? I think it’s providing good customer service. So much so, that our approach to sales training is termed “Service-Oriented Selling.”

It’s based on the premise that if you want to offer good customer service, you can’t let customers off of the phone or out of your sight if you have something that can make their business or personal life easier, more enjoyable, or more profitable. If you don’t let them know about a product or service that might provide these benefits, you’re not offering good service.

Does this mean automatically making the same sales offer to each customer? No. That’s not good service. Service-oriented selling, means listening to what customers say, reading between the lines, if necessary, and then bridging to an offer that you think will provide a benefit to them. If the customer doesn’t mention anything, it means looking at the customer’s account for information that might help you create an offer that’s beneficial. For example, if the customer orders Xerox paper every month but no toner, and you know that toner is on sale, why not do the customer the favor of letting them know about it. If you see that a customer’s computer is about to be out of warranty, why not offer an extension to help the customer avoid costly repairs down the line.

Many companies, when embarking on a new sales initiative for their service or support department, start out by creating special offers and sales scripts and then assigning quotas. Experience has shown that this approach causes up to 25% of the staff to find another job. Other companies, like Discover Card, Sears, and Toyota have recognized that they have a valued workforce with a proclivity toward service and have trained them in this service-oriented approach. Yes, they still had some turnover, but not nearly to the extent of companies who took the script/quota approach.

In addition to presenting sales as a service and helping your reps find a natural way to converse with their customers about their needs and possible solutions, it’s important to recognize and reward attempts—not sales—when first starting the initiative. This flies in the face of conventional sales management wisdom, but is important in this context in that it provides a learning period for reps to try out new skills and see that customers, for the most part, respond positively. After a reasonable period, when reps feel confident that they really are providing better service, you can add quotas and associated rewards.

So, yes. Your customer service and support reps CAN love to sell if you show them how to do so in a way that serves both the customer and the company.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


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