7 Tips for Effective Customer Service Upselling and Cross-Selling

Training your customer service agents the right way to upsell and cross-sell is as important as teaching them how to make optimal use of your enterprise communication solutions.

BY: JOHN ALLEN ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2020
7 Tips for Effective Customer Service Upselling and Cross-Selling

Cross-selling and upselling can offer huge opportunities for your company. Existing customers are far more likely to buy from you than new prospects. Training your customer service agents the right way to upsell and cross-sell is as important as teaching them how to make optimal use of your enterprise communication solutions.

The best upselling and cross-selling opportunities shouldn't always be seen as the remit of the sales team. If your inbound-focused call centre agents don’t know how to effectively upsell and cross-sell your products you’re missing out on big revenue opportunities. When a customer calls in, generic ‘sales speak’ or pitches to buy expensive products or add-ons are not often well received. You need a strategy to implement these methods without driving people away.

What are ‘upselling’ and cross-selling’?

Upselling is a strategy to sell a more expensive version of the product that a customer has already purchased from you (or is in the process of buying). Cross-selling is a strategy to sell products that are related to the one a customer owns or is buying.

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Here’s an example of upselling. If you’re shopping for a smartphone and are looking at an older model, the sales rep may explain the additional benefits of buying a newer one. That new one is almost certainly more expensive. If you decide that they’re right and buy the newer one? You’ve been upsold to.

One brand that does cross-selling well is the delivery company, Deliveroo. They increase the chances of add-ons by giving customers the option alongside the food they’re ordering. For example ‘extra mozzarella’ or an accompanying smoothie ‘to go’ appear as pop ups at the exit screen.

Customers are often tempted into buying an extra side they didn’t even know they wanted.

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Another example of a company that excels in cross-selling is Amazon. In fact, they attribute 35% of their sales to this practice. They use ‘customers who bought this item also bought’ and ‘frequently bought together’ sections to entice customers with on product pages. They also prompt buyers to purchase a compatible or necessary product - like batteries for a child’s toy.

How to start upselling and cross-selling

Putting these strategies into practice isn’t as easy as it might seem. Many companies ask their sales or customer service reps to ‘push’ products and services aggressively on to customers. This tactic is often seen as clumsy or tactless, especially when done in person or over the telephone.

Let’s take a look at some customer service best practices when it comes to upselling and cross-selling. These are practices you can implement with your teams right away to ensure they become pros at upselling and cross-selling.

1. Customer service agents should be product experts

Make sure your customer service agents have in-depth knowledge about your products or services. They should be able to answer any question customers have around technical specifications and compatibility issues. As well as the product they should feel confident about the delivery options you offer, for instance, if you offer free shipping or free returns.

To make sure customer service teams are up to date with the latest product info, keep lines of communication between agents and technical and support teams open with internal communication tools. Having a self-service information page for your customer service team can help a lot here. That way, when a customer calls with a query, they can answer it efficiently. This will help form a stronger connection between the customer, your agent, and your brand.

It’s important to resolve any problems a customer may have before trying to sell them other products. Otherwise, it’s likely to backfire.

By providing your team with product knowledge, they’ll be better placed to offer helpful solutions - as well as anticipate which of your products could help the customer going forward.

2. Provide your team access to specific customer knowledge

When your team is in touch with a customer, it’s a golden opportunity to use the valuable data you have on them. This could be when a customer rings your customer services team, when an agent initiates a call with a customer, or even when a customer reaches out through email or social media.

By using their background information you can determine what a customer’s goals are and how your other products and services could benefit them. Purchase data enables you to cross-sell based on what they already own, as well as avoiding trying to push something they already have.

In order to effectively upsell or cross-sell products your team needs to be able to personalise their interactions with customers. Provide them with helpful tools - data analytics, top video conferencing software, and a unified communications platform, so they can quickly see all previous customer interactions when they receive or place a call to a customer. Tools like conversational AI can reveal crucial insights into a customer’s previous experience with your brand.

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This tactic ensures your team can create effective customer journey maps, helping them choose which products to offer which customers.

3. Train customer service agents to look out for clues

When an agent abruptly launches into a sales pitch without any prior consideration the experience can be jarring for customers. Knowing when to delay, adapt, or skip a pitch is critical. Frustrated callers or complaints should be an obvious ‘no no’.

Other examples of when not to upsell or cross-sell to customers include when they’ve initiated excessive returns, or consistently demanded unwarranted attention from the customer service department.

There are positive clues too. Sales agents need to be on the lookout for signs that a customer is a good candidate for an upsell or cross-sell. If someone mentions they saw the brand through a mobile marketing campaign, agents can focus on products highlighted in those adverts. If a customer buying a laptop mentions that they spilt coffee on their last one, they could well be in the market for an extended warranty.

To make this easier you can provide customer service reps with a list of ‘trigger’ phrases. These phrases alert them as to possible candidates for certain products. It’s also worth training them on good questions to ask. Asking the right questions is a great way to identify the right products or services for each customer.

4. Focus on providing customers with value

Your ultimate goal is to build customer loyalty by providing them with world class customer service. One way to build a relationship with your customers is to offer them something of value.

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Providing your agents with testimonials and case studies will help them establish your brand’s value to your customers. Customer service agents need to be more than just sales people, they need to help customers find new solutions that will make their lives easier or better.

In order to successfully upsell and cross-sell you need to demonstrate how you are adding value to customers. Rather than giving customers a list of features or benefits sales, agents need to connect a customer’s needs and interests.

For example, if you’re selling a weight loss product rather than simply saying ‘this product will help you lose weight’ - say ‘this product will make you happier and more confident’. The more specific and relatable the benefit statement, the more likely you are to make a sale. By making the value clear you’re enabling customers to make a decision on their own without being too pushy.

Agents also need to understand when a product won’t add value to a customer - you don’t want to pitch an enterprise level SEO SaaS software solution to a small business, or an iPhone accessory to someone with an Android phone!

5. Don’t focus strictly on a script

While agents should be trained to be consistent in their communications, every customer is different and there are many different scenarios they’ll likely come across. Don’t make agents blindly follow a sales script - it can sound robotic. People hate to be treated like a number, and the chances of making that sale will dwindle.

Providing useful statements, facts and product information is great - but having a word-for-word script will likely hinder your team. Instead, give them general documentation to use.

If customers feel you’re not being honest with them they’re unlikely to become customer advocates. So when pitching ideas for extra products or services, be transparent about pricing and contracts. The more information a customer has, the more likely it is they’ll decide to buy more products or services.

6. Keep things simple

Offering too many products or services at once can create confusion and dilute the customer’s attention. Teach reps to focus on upselling or cross-selling just one or two items that provide a clear benefit to the customer.

If a customer follows up and another product seems more in line with their needs, an agent could then choose to mention it. However, the customer should lead these extra explorations, rather than the agent providing them with too many options at once.

7. Always follow up

Customer service agents should be trained to follow up with existing customers to ensure they’re satisfied with their purchases. This is also the perfect point in time to suggest appropriate upsells and cross-sells. If a customer has successfully enjoyed using your product or service for a number of months, you are in a good position to mention another product or service that would work well alongside it.

These follow-ups can be personalised - especially valuable for B2B businesses. But if you get your approach wrong, you risk not only putting people off buying more from you - but of them deciding never to buy from you again. To identify where agents could be going wrong use call logs to identify the quality of your call quality.

For B2C businesses, it may be easy to send out follow-up emails, personalised with customer data. This reduces the pressure on your agents, and means you can follow-up with a lot of people very quickly.

Get it right, and upselling and cross-selling are strategies that can drastically increase revenues for your company. With the right training your customer service agents can use tactics to generate extra sales and ensure customers get more value from your brand.

About the Author

John Allen

John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP Technology provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as NovaTech and GetCloudApp.

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