If your contact center isn’t currently focusing on cross-selling and upselling, you’re missing a great opportunity to strengthen customer relationships and increase revenue.
Our original contact center research revealed that 28 percent of contact centers generate 11 to 20 percent of their revenue from cross-selling and upselling. Yet, increasing revenue isn’t the most cited reason for having a cross-sell/upsell program.
Seventy-two percent of contact centers offer additional products to their customers to enhance customer experiences. Identifying customer needs and advising individual customers about products and services that can address those needs are good ways to strengthen relationships.
What are cross-selling and upselling? What’s the difference?
Cross-sell vs upsell is something even industry professionals can confuse. But remembering the following examples should help you keep the terms straight.
Cross-selling involves offering customers a complementary product. A classic cross-sell example: “Would you like fries with your burger?”
Upselling means that you offer a customer an upgraded version of the product they already have or are considering purchasing. A classic upsell example: “For just a dollar more, you can super-size your meal.”
To be successful at cross-selling, offers should be based on customer needs and related to the product the customer is purchasing. “Would you like sunglasses with your burger” doesn’t make any sense, and offering to super-size a customer who has just told you he’s on a diet shows that you weren’t listening.
Why cross-selling and upselling in the contact center can be challenging
If you’re ready to implement a cross-selling/upselling program in your contact center, know that you may face some opposition from a team of people who will make or break your initiative: your agents.
Many agents aren’t comfortable selling because they think it’s pushy and can add awkwardness to otherwise satisfying interactions. In fact, we found that 39 percent of contact centers rate overcoming agents’ discomfort as a key consideration.
Our study also identifies some proven best practices for getting contact center agents onboard, including:
- Rebrand cross-selling/upselling. If the terms “cross-selling” and “upselling” make your agents cringe, develop a new term for them. Freshly refers to the sales process as “being outgoing.” It’s hard to argue that customer service agents shouldn’t be outgoing.
- Offer financial incentives. To motivate your agents to bring in more revenue, offer them a piece of the pie. Our study shows that gift cards are the most valued rewards. Just make sure the gift cards are for an amount and of a nature meaningful to your contact center agents.
- Train agents and give them tools to be successful. Many of your agents probably don’t know how to sell, and that could be the source of their discomfort. Ongoing training can give agents the confidence needed to make product recommendations. And to ensure those recommendations are personalized and relevant, provide agents with customer purchase and interaction history.
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Tasks to include in your contact center’s cross-sell/upsell implementation plan
Given that the success of your cross-sell/upsell program will rely on overcoming agent objections, you should design your program accordingly. Including the following tasks in your implementation plan can help ensure your agents are ready, willing, and able to recommend products to your customers.
- Update your agent hiring profile. Add “willingness to sell” to your hiring requirements to ensure your HR department is recruiting agent candidates that will make your program successful.
- Identify your program’s KPIs. Congratulations! You have something else to measure! Identify how you will measure your program’s success. Possible KPIs include revenue, conversion rates, and total number of cross-sells/upsells. Think twice about giving sales quotas to agents. They can be perceived as punitive and drive the wrong types of behaviors.
- Develop a training plan. Knowing how to identify customer needs and recommend products and services helps agents overcome their discomfort with selling. Consider role-playing and, once your agents have some successes under their belt, play call recordings or view transcripts of successful examples of cross-sells and upsells.
- Update your quality monitoring. Including sales behaviors in your quality monitoring improves agent performance through coaching. Additionally, quality results alert you to any weaknesses. Update your QM forms and train your QA team on how to evaluate cross-selling and upselling.
- Design an agent incentive program. Providing incentives to sales teams is a common practice, probably because incentives produce results when structured properly. Before you implement your new cross-selling/upselling program, assemble a team of agents to help you design a motivating incentive plan. And be sure to discuss incentives during training.
- Identify and implement system enhancements. Successful cross-selling and upselling may require you to make system enhancements. To identify what technology changes you might need to implement, answer these questions:
- How will we capture cross-sell/upsell offers, conversions, revenue, and other KPIs?
- What reporting changes are needed to provide timely program insights?
- How will agents know how they’re performing? Do agent dashboards need to be updated?
- How will agents access customer purchase and interaction history, and any other data needed to personalize offers?
- Do we need a system to help motivate agents and manage incentives?
Make your contact center cross-selling/upselling program a success
Implementing a successful sales program in your contact center takes careful planning and attention to the people aspects of the new approach to customer interactions.
Fortunately, you can learn from organizations that have already been there, done that. Download our new eBook, Cross-Selling and Upselling in the Contact Center Industry: Successes, Challenges, and Best Practices, to learn a comprehensive set of proven best practices.