We hear it all the time: outbound selling is old news, and inbound sales are better. Content marketing is the rule of law online: build a brand and build compelling content, and let your customers come to you rather than the opposite.
Enabling such an inbound capability is difficult, particularly if your company is dealing with real-time interactions like call centre calls or online chat systems. The investment is worth it, however: such inbound leads are also some of the biggest opportunities for driving sales and revenue.
Service-to-Sales (S2S): A Primer
The idea behind Service-to-Sales is seemingly simple, but notoriously difficult to implement in practice. Every call centre agent, sales represenative, or online chat representative should be trained to look for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. When customers (or potential customers) reach out to your company, it signifies an interest in your brand and in your product… These are the best moments to convert them to a new product or offering. Doing so requires tact, however: your support representative needs to solve the customer’s existing problems and only then work on the new sale. Jumping straight to a sale is a recipe for disaster.
The pain of developing a S2S capability is well worth it: companies can generate significantly better conversion rates through their inbound channels. Unfortunately, much of the work in this space has been limited to large telecommunications and retail banking companies.
Four Tips for Enabling S2S
With new platforms and technologies, enabling an S2S culture is simple and can be quick, particularly within smaller enterprises. Below are some tips to get you started.
#1: Provide Training
Begin by training your existing support teams to look for hints that a customer’s need is not being met, or that there is another opportunity to explore. Customers who complain about a missing feature in their current offering, or ones with questions about other services, are often viable cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. Encourage your reps to solve the existing problem and then to review other offers with the customer. Too many times, IT support or post-sales support teams will simply solve a problem, close a ticket, and move on.
#2: Incentivize Your Support Teams
Ensure your team has the proper incentives to actually benefit from using an S2S mentality; provide incentives similar to what you provide your sales teams. Support teams are typically evaluated based on the number of tickets they close or customer satisfaction metrics. Provide a small commission for sales or leads generated and you’ll likely see an improvement in their sales performance.
Of course, don’t forget to couple incentives with proper training.
#3: Provide a Customer View
Customer service reps rarely have a thorough view of their customers. They have tickets to close, a chat session to get through, or are evaluated on how quickly they can complete a phone call. Sales opportunities are missed not because sales reps aren’t focusing on sales, but because they are missing the necessary information to engage in a productive conversation with their customers.
Provide your reps with information about recent support requests, existing product offerings, and recommendations for sales. A simple product recommender system can work wonders here, as the rep only sees one additional piece of information and can probe the customer after fixing the problem they reached out about.
#4: Invest in the Right Technology
Tracking customers effectively and providing your sales reps with customer-level data is no small technical feat. Fortunately, new technologies and platforms are making it easier to track this information and present it to reps. A web-based approach is the fastest, as you can iterate on designs quickly and can use off-the-shelf solutions. Ultimately, pick something that shows each representative (1) information about past purchases, (2) basic information about the customer, and (3) prescriptive recommendations on what to do next.
Service-to-Sales (S2S) is a great way to make your entire company a sales-oriented one, and will help leverage a key customer contact channel within any company. Have a S2S success story to share? Let us know!