Upselling and Cross-selling by Customer Service and Support Teams

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As the economy recovers, many companies are looking for opportunities to claw their way back to pre-recession sales levels. And companies that fared well want to be sure to keep their customers as competition in the playing field grows.

Who’s upselling and cross-selling now?

While sales teams have long had goals for upselling and cross-selling, more companies than ever are asking their customer service reps to do the same. And they’re asking their support engineers to recommend product upgrades and contact customers to renew warranty agreements. This growing trend is particularly true in the financial services, telecommunications, high technology, and services industries.

Why is upselling and cross-selling an important trend for service and support departments?

Most industries are dealing with the problem of selling a commodity, since competitors are able to quickly copy what was, originally, an innovative product differentiator. In fact, the Corporate Executive Board in their ECSB Insider report 67 percent of business owners feel that more suppliers are now offering competing products than five years ago. This makes new sales more difficult and buyers less loyal since they have multiple places where they can purchase similar products or services. While it’s important to increase market share, it’s also easier to focus on your existing buyers who already trust your organization and find value in your offering. Plus, the more products and services people buy from an organization, the more likely they are to remain engaged rather than take their business elsewhere.

There’s a benefit for customers, too. Purchasing more at once saves them time and shipping costs, and maybe even money if there’s a quantity discount. Upgrading to a new product version saves on repair costs. Purchasing a maintenance contract reduces risk, helps with budgeting, and smooths cash flow.

What’s required for success?

According to MarketSoft Corporation, a provider of cross-selling technology, nearly three quarters of all businesses say they have cross-selling programs, but as many as 70 percent of such efforts fail to increase revenue in any significant way. Why?

Despite advancements in technology to identify sales opportunities through segmentation and behavior analysis, if the agents speaking with customers don’t want to sell or don’t introduce the sale in a way that benefits the buyer, there will be no sale.

When presented with an upsell and cross-sell initiative, many customer service and support representatives are not happy! They perceive themselves as service professionals, not salespeople. In fact, some companies have lost as much as 25% of their department when embarking on a cross-selling program. Giving representatives a script to read at the end of a call won’t work. I’m sure you’ve been on the other end of those types of calls! What’s needed is a training program to help agents understand how selling—appropriately—is offering service. It truly is! When a customer service or support rep thinks ahead about what products and services might serve customers, then presents the offer in a way that shows it meets a need the customer has, cross-selling is offering the customer “total” service.

Amadeus-Forrester, in their recent report titled “Cross-Sell Your Way to Profits” predicts cross-selling to grow 30 percent by 2015, ten times faster than general sales. Are you ready to be part of this trend?

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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