Is Your Contact Center’s Upselling Pushy or Professional?

I got another telemarketing call from my internet provider. Their agent read rapidly from a script. They babbled endlessly about an incredible special offer for internet TV, without pausing to ask qualifying questions. (If I had a pulse, I must be a viable candidate for their offer.) They gave a laundry list of features, but never explained how those features applied to me. After that, they used an assumptive close, “We can add that for you today for only $9.95 for the first three months.” Since they never asked questions to discover needs or explained actual benefits, I declined the offer. I was also ticked off because I have been a customer of them for twenty years. Yet, they treated me as a name on a list. This was a perfect example of a “pushy” upsell:  trying to push a sale by monologuing, brow beating and daring a customer to say, “No.”

There is a difference between being “pushy” and “professional” as an outbound contact center agent. Pushy is randomly throwing offers at customers, hoping a small percentage of people will buy. Professional is asking questions to determine if the customer is a good fit for your service and customizing benefits to their needs. For example, “Are you interested in live sports, news or current TV shows that streaming services don’t carry?” or “Do you wish you could watch TV on any screen in your home?” The key is discovering needs you can fill. If the customer is NOT a good fit for your product, let them know this service is available if their needs ever change. Then, thank them for speaking you. Do not push them to buy something they do not need. It will only annoy the customer. Worse, they may buy now and later cancel once they realize they were tricked. That damages your brand and creates negative CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and NPS (Net Promoter Score) results.

What does “Professional” upselling sound like over the phone? It means taking a consultative, conversational approach to sales. It means asking questions to discover a customer’s needs. Then, tying those needs to the benefits of your product or service, from the customer’s point of view. That means explaining how your product or service makes your customer’s life easier, faster or helps them save money/make money. If done correctly, you make a sale and build customer loyalty. New agents often struggle with this process. They do not know the necessary questions to uncover a customer’s need. As their manager or Director, work with them to brainstorm needs assessment questions. So, they can decide if a customer is a good prospect. Be careful to position these questions within the context of an overall customer conversation. Otherwise, inexperienced agents will use this list of questions as an interrogation, instead of part of a comfortable conversation.

Listen to calls as agents begin to use these skills. Then, praise them for skills they are using well and help them with any skill gaps. This will help them create a professional, consultative approach to sales. So, they do not come across as “pushy” and alienate your existing customers.