Contact Center Gold: 8 Best Practices for Upselling Over the Phone

by Mindful
 • May 20, 2015
 • 4 min to read

Every company has two primary ways to generate more revenue. The most obvious way is to acquire more customers. Yet there is always the cost per acquisition that needs to be taken into account. The other way to jump-start revenue that requires less upfront cost is to increase your average sale per customer. To drive more revenue per customer, you can either increase your prices on your products and services or upsell by enticing your existing customers to buy more expensive items, add-ons, or upgrades.

Upselling in an Inbound Contact Center

Because contact centers have not historically been revenue-generating sources, many industry leaders have made it a focus to find new ways to reduce expenditures and overhead. However, as companies have developed a better understanding of customer behaviors and have adopted more advanced contact center technology, the quest to generate revenue at the contact center level has become a new focus. This most obvious solution is upselling.

Of course, it’s not as simple as just encouraging your contact center agents to offer a specific product or service to a customer dialing into a contact center. There are best practices that can greatly improve agents’ ability to adapt customer-centric sales strategies that promote increased revenue and growth. Let’s review a few of the ways that upselling can be introduced within your contact center.

Think of Your Contact Center as a Business Intelligence Information Source

Before launching an upsell campaign within your contact center, it’s vital to identify the most common reasons that customers dial your contact center and what they may be interested in potentially buying. By taking the time to get agents’ feedback and carefully review data from calls, you can begin to determine what products and services have the best chance of being upsold within your contact center and position your contact center accordingly.

It’s also important to carefully take into consideration your customer profile. If you are primarily selling to high-end customers with loads of cash, you’ll undoubtedly have an easier time upselling them on additional items. If money is tight for your customers, upsells need to be more price sensitive. This can even include payment plans and discounts for additional purchases that offer real value for those who may greatly appreciate the savings.

Train Your Agents to Extend the Customer Relationship

Once you’ve identified what you want your contact center team to sell, the next step is to prepare them to sell. This means giving agents the information they need to effectively present products and services to customers dialing into the center.

It also involves providing sales training to your team. Customer service and selling require different skills. Some agents may even find it problematic to sell when they are focused on delivering a great customer experience. To overcome resistance, sales training should include demonstrating that the products and services offered provide real measurable value to the customer, and because of this, selling them is truly an extension of providing comprehensive customer service.

Use a CRM Solution

A customer relationship management solution, such as Salesforce or SugarCRM, can dramatically increase your team’s ability to sell by enabling agents to access customer profile data and suggest offers that are tailored to their customers’ needs and wants. This readily available information not only improves close rates on upselling efforts but it also gives agents the ability to provide better, more personalized service to customers.

Leverage Your IVR System Features

While the majority of upselling will occur during conversations between the agent and customer, the process can be supported through marketing-driven recordings that are incorporated into your contact center’s phone system. An auto-attendant greeting can notify callers of specific promotions that are currently running. On-hold messages can promote items such as service contracts or related products.

Offer Incentives

If sales has not traditionally been a function of your contact center, there can be reluctance from representatives to take this on as a daily task. To minimize pushback, it makes sense to offer incentives for sales that are generated because of their upselling efforts. Whether these look like bonuses, incentive gifts, or other perks, rewarding your representatives when they perform well is a smart idea that will keep them motivated and enthusiastic.

Don’t Overdo It

Upselling can undoubtedly be a great way to increase revenue. However, you’re wise not to overload customers with upsell opportunities during every call, or you’ll risk losing them. If there is the perception that your contact center team is overly aggressive, customers will be less likely to call in, and eventually, they will leave.

Successful upsells should be dripped through your contact center, email, and via other customer touch points over extended periods of time. By not putting the hard sell on customers each time they call, you’ll prevent them from feeling like they’re being squeezed of every dollar.

Learn from Your Customers

As you begin to upsell to your customers through your contact center, continuously gather data. Let agents ask questions to help you better understand your customers’ needs. Through these questions, you and your agents will get a better understanding of what can be upsold and what can’t. By understanding particular customer pain points, you’ll be able to develop more relevant offers and adapt to their evolving needs.

Many business experts will tell you that 70 percent of a company’s revenue should be derived from customer acquisition and 30 percent should come from upselling customers. If a contact center is optimized for upselling, a significant amount of revenue from upselling can be generated by contact center agents.

With the right training, tools, and a clear understanding of your customers’ needs, upselling may become an important function to your contact center operations that actually generates revenue to reduce operational costs.

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