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How can we motivate our call center agents to up-sell?

Get tips for training call center agents to up-sell and cross-sell in this expert response.

How can we motivate our call center agents to up-sell products when they were originally recruited for a technical...

support position?

As call centers continue to evolve from cost centers to revenue generating profit centers, call center agents will increasingly have some form of sales responsibilities – up-selling/cross-selling, customer retention, lead generation, etc. – added to their role. Call center agents, particularly those who were not originally hired for the sales function or who don't already possess this skill set, may feel apprehensive or uncomfortable about selling.

Call center agents are more likely to be motivated to up-sell when they are well informed about the products, so training is a critical part of the acclimation process. A sales training course should address the ability to recognize a sales opportunity and how to segue from handling a service issue into a sales interaction. The training should also include thorough instruction in product features, customer benefits, sales techniques, communication skills and how to overcome customer objections. Ideally, the course should utilize extensive role-playing to help alleviate the initial awkwardness inherent in practicing a new skill. As agents often learn best from their peers, it is helpful to share best practice examples of real sales calls from highly effective call center agents. If at all possible, give your staff an opportunity to get hands-on experience by allowing them to use the product or service that they are selling. Call center agents with first-hand knowledge are better able to articulate product or service features and benefits and can communicate the information with confidence.

Once the training is concluded, it is important to coach call center agents with directed feedback on a frequent, consistent and timely basis. If agents are being rated on sales results as part of their performance appraisal, use a phased approach to set realistic and attainable goals. Lastly, remember to recognize, communicate and reward performance improvements and sales goal achievements.

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