At first glance, it might seem like customer care services have nothing to do with sales, but sales expert David Schotz is here to tell us otherwise. In this podcast, Schotz shares his unique experience in incorporating sales into customer care service.
In this article:
- Who Is David Schotz?
- Why Did Schotz Start Incorporating Sales Into Customer Care Services?
- How Did He Manage These Overlapping Teams?
- Training Customer Care Teams
- Importance of Incentives
- Monitoring Performance
- Where Can You Start?
Discovering The Untapped Sales Potential of Customer Care Services
Who Is David Schotz?
David Schotz is the Senior Director of TeleSales and Care Contact Centers in Centrica and the Head of TeleSales in Direct Energy.
If there’s one piece of advice that Schotz believes leaders and people in sales should know, it’s the importance of celebrating failure. Schotz shares:
“You have the people who take the failure and they tuck it under the rug. If you’re getting it right every single time, you really didn’t learn anything.”
For Schotz, failure should be celebrated because it paves the way for growth and development.
Why Did Schotz Start Incorporating Sales Into Customer Care Services?
Schotz was a general manager for sales and technical support for a start-up software company when he first thought of incorporating sales into customer care services.
In Schotz’s experience, one of the pain points in a sales organization is customer service. Not only are they cost centers, but they’re also usually understaffed.
In the midst of trying to manage the long customer service call queues, Schotz noticed that irate and impatient customers would channel their calls to the sales department. In the beginning, Schotz shares that there was an “us versus them mentality” between the sales and customer service teams.
When this happened, Schotz made an interesting observation:
“What we were finding is that salespeople were better at telling them about what’s new and how it would help them solve their needs. Technical support, in this life, was about trying to fix what their problem was in 30, 40, 50 minutes on the phone.”
Even though it seemed like sales and customer care were mismatched in the beginning, Schotz recognized the potential. In the name of celebrating failure, he took the risk and integrated his sales team into customer care.
In his initial experiment, Schotz assigned the first tier customer service calls to the sales team. Whenever an inbound customer service call came in, the customers would first talk to a sales representative.
This unique solution solved the problem of long call queues. Schotz shares:
“So the call got answered quicker because again, in sales, we typically have the availability, and in [customer care] service, you don’t, so we immediately help the customers that needed help.”
On top of that, the sales team also benefitted from this setup. “This was a lot warmer than cold calling and prospecting, so they like that they got some of this in-bound mix instead of just doing outbound all the time,” Schotz explained.
If the customer’s problem was too technical and went beyond the sales agent’s capabilities, their call would then be forwarded to the customer care team.
Fortunately, the risk paid off. Schotz shares, “The customer was happier, the queues were down—it was like win-win-win when we did this.”
How Did He Manage These Overlapping Teams?
Schotz was fortunate to be the general manager for both the sales team and the technical support team. It would’ve been more challenging to integrate these teams if they were headed by different managers.
Schotz also explained that he still had a part of the sales team focus solely on sales. He also adds that sales representatives had to earn the right to take on inbound customer care service calls.
He would only invite his top sales representatives to handle inbound calls, while the others had to keep working on their sales skills by prospecting and making outbound cold calls.
Training Customer Care Teams
For larger companies, it may be difficult to have your sales team take on the additional role of customer care providers. This is the case for Schotz and the companies he’s currently working with.
In these contexts, Schotz recommends flipping his initial solution.
Instead of getting your salespeople involved in customer care, get your customer care team involved in sales.
And how do you do that exactly? “You can’t shove sales in their face,” Schotz warns. They may initially feel uncomfortable because it’s not the job they signed up for.
With customer care teams, you incentivize them to sell by explaining the value it would add to the existing customer. Schotz provides them with talking points or 3-5 questions they can ask to get a better understanding of their customer’s needs and pair these needs with the appropriate products.
Importance of Incentives
An important factor to consider when integrating customer services and sales is the kind of incentives you need to provide to motivate your team.
It’s best to provide incentives for customer care agents who are able to make a sale, but it’s important to note that these incentives don’t have to be at the same level as the sales team incentives.
Schotz says that, in his experience, it doesn’t take too a lot to incentivize a customer care agent.
“In sales, we’re commission-motivated and incentive-based so you gotta pay more, but typically, sales is tougher,” explains Schotz.
For sales agents who will take on customer service calls, Schotzs suggests keeping their incentives the same. Changing the incentives for sales agents may demotivate them.
In the end, Schotz believes it will balance out. “And frankly, you’ve saved money on the care side because this call did not get to a care agent,” Schotz said.
As you add new roles to existing positions, it’s important to monitor their performance.
Schotz shares that they use the speech analysis tool, Call Minor, to help them monitor their performance. Because of their size, this tool allows them to make sure that their customer care representatives are, at the very least, mentioning the product during each call.
Schotz explains, “It’s the name of the game in care—just making sure they’re asking and offering it out there“.
However, for smaller companies, quality assurance departments can try and listen in on phone calls to help assess the effectivity of the agents.
Where Can You Start?
Schotz encourages small organizations to simply experiment and try it out. He suggests inviting a few top sales agents and giving them the opportunity to experience inbound calls.
“I believe that the best customer service agents are salespeople. We get sales because we deliver what the customer wants,” Schotz stressed.
We’re always looking for more conversations in sales and you actually have thousands of conversations coming in through customer care. Why don’t we try doing something with it?
Schotz presented really compelling numbers that may convince you to try this strategy out.
He said, “in my world, I may receive 30,000 sales calls every single month and I could convert 50% of them. But in [customer] care, I received 200,000 calls every single month. You just convert 5-10% of those and your numbers grow exponentially.”
If your sales numbers are in a rut and you’re in the market for a new strategy, Schotz’s method can be one of the more innovative solutions worth your time. It’s also one way of challenging your top performers and unlocking potential skills that your salespeople may not know they have.
If you would like to extend this conversation with David Schotz, you can send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out his Linkedin profile.
Have you considered involving your customer care team in sales? Let us know in the comments section.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
In This Episode You Learned:
– How to think differently about sales
– How to find sales where you didn’t they are
– Why upsells are more important