In the past few years, the number of touches required to make a sale has more than doubled. In 2017 the number was under 4, and in 2020 we talk about 8+ touches. This is hardly a surprise to any sales, marketing, or customer success team. It’s also why top executives strive to maximize every customer touch.
What do we mean by maximizing a touch? Simply put, it means getting as much valuable information and opportunity from the customer every time we talk AND adding as much value as possible at the same time. What if every person that interacted with your customer could help mine more information, plant seeds for more opportunity, or even (allow a girl to dream) identify sales opportunities and seamlessly pass them or (gasp!) work them to a certain level? In short, the dream is that all sales leaders could consider their customer care and customer success teams as extensions of the sales team.
Seems logical and simple in theory, until you consider that these orgs often roll up to owners outside of sales, may have different systems, leaders, goals and KPIs. They also have widely varying hiring profiles. An inbound customer care agent performs well with a reactive personality, a high ability to multitask, patience, and a core need to help. Now let’s weave in the customer experience on top of this. A customer care or customer success team is goaled with solving customer problems, answering questions, and ensuring they are engaged and thrilled with their experience with our products, people, and services. And here-in lies the rub.
In fact, I’ve spoken with many Customer Success Leaders who adamantly refuse to include any type of sales objectives or goals for their teams in fear it would negatively impact the customer experience.
I hear you. I just don’t agree. When we have a live body from our customer pool engaged on a call with us, we just saved 8 calls. Let’s maximize it. Let’s also remember the incredible value of referral business. It closes faster, has higher annual spend, and retains longer.
Fun fact: Referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value & an 18% lower churn rate.
What if our customer care teams could help us leverage into additional referred sales?
Think I’m dreaming again? Perhaps. So let’s focus on an easy place to start:
Three questions every customer service, customer care, or customer success agent should ask on calls to help them become an extension of your sales team.
1. Tell me about how you’re using the product / service?
This question uncovers opportunities. It’s the question we all wish our actual sales account managers asked more often. When we know the problem our solution solves for the customer, we can identify what other solutions, add-ons, services, etc., can also help. The goal is to find the use-case AND any gaps. Want to take it to the next level? Conduct internal product training for customer care agents and map common answers to potential solution fits. For example: A customer uses your service to bridge a gap between two departments. We know that our new software offering does the same for different departments. You’ve just uncovered an opportunity. The final dot on the “i” includes a few follow-up questions for your agents. In this example we’d ask, what departments had the gap? How did it come to happen? What other departments experience this? Is it 100% solved? Great sales-focused product training helps map our products and services to the customer situation that needs them and then maps questions to uncover those situations. The Factor 8 course, “Mapping Solutions To Customer Needs” is an uber-popular custom course we’ve built for companies in many industries to help build these bridges.
2. Talk to me about growth or other strategic plans for this group?
Again, adding licenses and services is a common goal for any customer success agent. We won’t know about opportunities if we aren’t asking about changes in the business – especially growth. Rather than letting your rep make 8 calls to ask a sales-focused question (a “me” question”), why not get the information from your customer care or customer success team. Much easier to weave this into a conversation about product-fit and satisfaction while we already have them on the phone!
3. What is your favorite part of working with ABC company / service?
Not only does this rake in great testimonials and candidates for case studies, it leads to conversations about how we can make the experience even better. A smart question for the care goals, and even better for sales and product teams. At Factor 8, we use this information to help us build our curriculum development roadmap (I wish you had a class on “Having Difficult Conversations” helped us prioritize this webinar and e-learning content development). Learning that clients wanted to keep the “buzz” we created alive longer helped us add more consulting services and tools to help managers get more involved in coaching. This is the true “voice of the customer” for product and sales teams and when customer care agents know about add-on services and sales, at least 1 out of 10 conversations will uncover an actual opportunity nugget for something you already do.
Great feedback on clients’ favorite parts of their experience with you is also the fuel you need to “Leverage the Rave” to ask for referrals. Even if your customer care agents aren’t prepared to execute this skill yet, a great nugget is a perfect reason for an account executive to call, learn more, and ask for a referral to another internal or external buyer.
Want to learn more about training your agents to ask for referrals? We have a class for that in the Sales Bar. Just ask us about it here.
Not sure how to execute from here? A simple answer is a monthly touch point between sales and customer care where they bring answers and trends to these top 3 questions to help us pass the lead, queue up referral calls, and even brainstorm add-on products and services.
BONUS: It’s also a great way to find superstars in these organizations you’ll want to earmark for future sales openings.
Ready to train your customer service agents to sell? We’ve got you covered.
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