The challenge of converting Customer Service Representatives in a contact centre into sales associates is a growing trend as businesses look for ways to get more out of their contact centres.
Transforming Contact Centre to Sales Centre
As recounted in this case story, a national insurance company worked with CareerLink, a consultancy based in Australia dedicated to revolutionising people performance, to train new hires to optimize their conversion strategy.
The engagement was to provide sales training to a group of new Customer Service Representatives (CSR) that were being asked to sell new services to customers that had called in for services questions. If successful, the result would be to transfer the customer to a specialist for that new service to better explain the service(s) and sign the customer up.
CSRs completed their EQ Profile, developed by Six Seconds, a global pioneer in emotional intelligence (EQ), just prior to the training, which educated them in both their EQ competencies and sales skills.
Throughout the process, each participant’s Key Performance Indicators were tracked, with the results showing consistent increases that continued after the training period. These results, shown in the graphic below, measured Participation Rate and Effective Rate. The Effective Rate showed substantial and sustained improvement.
What were the challenges the organisation faced in optimising sales results? It involved a fundamental change in corporate culture, particularly at the point of contact with the customer. This change was summarised by a company representative as follows:
It was a cultural shift from a predominantly service-orientated culture, in which agents focused on completing customer requests, to a more holistic service conversation that included indentifying growth opportunities. As recruitment had traditionally been for service-orientated staff, changing this to a sales culture was the biggest challenge.
What initiatives and actions were taken to optimise and increase sales results? A multi-faceted approach was taken to new hire training, process improvement, reporting and results tracking, and ongoing coaching. The engagement of an outside consultant brought in new perspectives and tools, a key element of success according to the company. As a company leader described:
“We looked at multiple providers who all deliver specific sales training, but were more focused on the technical aspects of the sales conversation. The program delivered by CareerLink helped address that cultural aspect of sales at the individual and team level. The value was getting people to look at their own approach and see how it would fit in the “new world” of sales.”
What were the benefits the attendees and organisation received from the sales training? The new CSRs were highly engaged by the training and put their new-found insight and skills to work immediately. According to the National Sales Manager, the results from the training program were noteworthy:
- Holistically, the company had a year-on-year increase in sales of 28%, generating millions to the bottom line.
- At an individual level, the number of agents meeting the effective benchmark increased from 13% to peak at 61%, and averaged out at 40% over the year.
It is not easy to introduce a new organisational culture. In this case, a comprehensive training and process improvement initiative, driven by individual assessment data and insight, established a new set of expectations and transformed customer interaction at a critical point of opportunity. The result was heightened effectiveness, a substantial increase in sales, and enhanced revenue for the company.