Yes, Support CAN Sell: Lessons from the B2C World
I’m preparing for tomorrow’s webcast with LivePerson, “Live Chat: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly,” and we are going to talk about something we’ve never tackled on an SSPA webcast before: upsell and cross-sell.
This is always a touchy topic for tech support, with some long-time support techs not happy about putting on a sales hat. But trust me, it was also a controversial topic 10 years ago in the consumer support world. I did some research on this during my time at Forrester, and many of the lessons learned by consumer companies can apply equally well to the enterprise support world. I will be covering this during the webcast tomorrow, but here is a preview for you.
Lessons learned by consumer companies who incorporated sales into service
- Include sales training in product training. During training, include appropriate upsell/cross-sell offers along with technical training on common problems. Newly minted support techs will learn both simultaneously, getting over the “service vs. sales” mentality.
- Training must be ongoing. Just like customer service skills, soft sales skills training should be ongoing, especially for those with low extend/accept rates.
- In many cases, sales is PART OF servicing the customer. One company told me, “When agents hear YES often enough, they stop thinking of it as selling.” Some SSPA members (IBM, HP) already do this. If a customer is struggling with technical problems on older equipment, offering them a special deal to upgrade will solve the problem and create revenue.
- Measure offer extends and accept rates, NOT total revenue generated. Learn some new metrics. “Offer extends” is what percent of the time an agent extends an offer to the customer during the call/chat/email. “Accept rate” is the percentage of the time the customer accepts the offer. The biggest barrier at the start is getting agents to extend the offer, and soft sales training helps them work the extend naturally into the conversation.
- Support techs/agents should be incented, not goaled. Don’t give them a goal, because when the goal is reached agents stop selling. Instead, provide incentives, such as a sales commission or per-accept reward.
Please join us for the webcast tomorrow if you can, I’ll expand on these points and have some other advice to share. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see all of you next week at Technology Services World Vegas!