You Hired Me for Customer Service, Not Sales

I’m sure you’ve met this person on the phone or face-to-face.

They are friendly but have no idea how to get you interested in the product or services they are trying to sell. They were hired in a Customer Service focused role and now they have to sell. So what is really going on?

1.They don’t really believe that the product or service is all that great.

They have no passion for what they are talking about. If face-to-face, you can see the lack of interest in their eyes and flat tone. If on a call with a call center representative without visual, the disinterested tone is even worse. If they have no passion for what they are selling, how can they get me excited?

2. They have been given a brochure with a list of features and that is their sales tool.

The Manager has read over the product information with them and asked if they had any questions. They have no idea how to discuss the product in terms of how it will benefit a Customer personally, just the generic rundown of items listed. My favorite experience happened at a financial institution I was working with on sales culture. I did a pre-consulting visit with a branch where they didn’t know me. The Teller was very sweet and friendly but when I asked about the different checking accounts they had, she pulled out the brochure, turned it sideways so we could both view it and then pointed at each feature with her pen while reading to me out loud. She had never been coached on how to find out what my needs and interests were before discussing features or benefits. She simply read the list of 15 features for each while I watched in amazement that she could do so with barely a breath for air. She asked no questions, just read and looked at me at the end to see if I showed any interest. The Teller handed me the brochure and asked me to let her know when I decided what I wanted. She was a poster-child for Self-Service sales as I could have done as much online and opened an account via their website.

3. They hate sales.

Companies are moving high quality Customer Service Representatives into Sales roles that some Reps greatly dislike. Many have told me this when I coached with them. Some Reps change their mind about Sales once they improve skills and gain confidence. Others will never make it in the dual service/sales role whether from fear, lack of ability or negative attitude. Of course a company needs to decide if everyone will both sell and service and then hire for skills accordingly. However, this doesn’t solve the initial problem of having a positive Customer focused employee now becoming resentful or disinterested in their job due to the sales requirement. Some businesses build more dedicated sales and retention teams so the Service person becomes a "referer" rather than closing the sale. But even in this scenario, the Service Rep still needs to "sell" the Prospect or Customer on talking with the sales rep.

So as a Manager or Business Owner, what can you do?

A combination of things. Revamp your hiring strategy including new job descriptions, skill expectations so you have the right people on board from the start. Try to save great Service Reps who can’t sell/dislike selling by looking at the structure and seeing if there are opportunities to have specialized service with little selling. You’ve invested time and training in these employees so you want to do everything possible to retain them without losing sight of the revenue needed for the growth of my business and continued employment for other employees. Reps who can create a great Customer Experience help make cross-selling, upselling and Loyalty building easier.

Make sure your Sales training isn’t rote or impersonal but uses roleplay and on the job coaching after real life sales observations with your employees. Teach selling that is truly focused on Customers needs, wants and the continued customer experience. Ensure that dislike of Sales by the Rep isn’t because they don’t know how to sell or are lacking confidence in themselves or don’t believe in the products. Find out what is really holding them back from selling.

There is no one perfect solution to the above issues, but in today’s competitive market, I think we can agree that every employee must be focused on best practice service, sales and helping your business be successful for the sake of everyone involved.

Melissa Kovacevic is the Founder and President of CommPlan Consulting. Melissa consults with Contact Center and Retail Customer Service clients on ways to improve and blend People, Process and Technology for a winning Customer Experience.