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Call Centers - Ten Tips to Create a Sales Focused Team

Mike Aoki

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Are you struggling to turn your call center into a sales focused area? One of my clients recently had the same challenge.

This electronic supply company's call center was originally focused on customer service only. Since call centers require a large staff, work stations, and expensive call routing equipment, the call center was viewed as a “cost center" by senior management. In other words, they were a drain on the company's budget.

So, call center management decided to transition to a more sales focused role. They asked Agents to suggest additional products to customers. They trained their Agents to “up-sell" new services during inbound calls.

And it worked! By generating add-on sales, the call center became a area that made money, instead of being an expense.

If you want to make this transition, here are 10 steps to create a sales focused inbound call center.

  1. Have a good Service Level: You must take care of the customer's initial inquiry in a timely fashion to earn the right to up sell. If you can not take care of the initial enquiry fast enough, you should not be trying to further dampen service levels by attempting to up sell.
  2. Change the culture from a “service" mindset to a “service AND sales" mindset: Often, Agents are resistant to change. As one Agent said to me during a training course, “I'm a service person, not one of those ‘sales people. '" It is crucial to transition the call center's culture to a sales mind set to reach full potential.
  3. Update your hiring practices: In your recruitment program and in your job interviews, find people who are service AND sales focused.
  4. Train your Agents on how to sell: Sales people are not born, they are trained. Your Agents deserve to be properly trained on sales skills so they can succeed.
  5. Train your Team Managers on how to be a SALES coach: Sales coaching is a different skill than call quality coaching. So, your Team Managers deserve to be trained on the new skills required in a sales focused call center. Coaching must be a priority to reinforce the sales culture.
  6. Set clear sales targets and communicate them to your Agents: It is not enough to mention sales goals once in a meeting. You need to reinforce those objectives repeatedly through team huddles, rallies and performance appraisals.
  7. Strike a balance between call quality and sales results: Good sales calls are efficient calls because a well-trained Agent knows how to ask questions, listen for answers and close effectively.
  8. Measure and update each Agent on their results: Give them a goal and let them know how they are progressing. What gets measured, gets done.
  9. Show how call center sales targets affect the “big picture": Let your Agents and Team Managers know why sales are important and how they help the bottom line. Educate them about your business. People will work hard if they know they are making a difference.
  10. Reward individual and team success: Have contests, give out prizes, do team rallies and reward days. Change your compensation or bonus structure to reward top performers and encourage further sales success.

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc. , Toronto, Canada

Mike Aoki is a corporate trainer and motivational speaker with 20 years of experience in the telecom industry. For more free tips on public speaking, sales and call center techniques, visit


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