When Starting from Scratch Isn’t an Option: Five Tips for Transitioning Customer Service Chat to Sales Chat

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When researching products, customers use a wide range of digital touchpoints before making a purchase. Throughout their buying journeys, customers often have questions about a product or service that require assistance from a company representative.

This is one of the reasons why sales chat has become such a popular option to engage with customers and prospects at critical moments of truth in the buying cycle. Indeed, 44 percent of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live associate while in the midst of an online purchase is one of the most important features that a company’s website can offer, according to a Forrester Research study. Meanwhile, an ATG research report reveals that 90 percent of consumers find live chat helpful.

Clearly, sales chat represents a tremendous opportunity for companies to have informative, “in-the-moment” interactions with customers and prospects that can boost customer satisfaction and increase conversion rates. But the challenge for many companies is finding sales associates with suitable chat and written communication skills who can interact with customers and prospects effectively.

One effective option for sales leaders who want to create a sales chat team is transitioning members of a customer service chat team into sales chat roles. In many cases, customer care associates already have upsell and cross-sell skills that transfer well to a sales chat team.

We offer five tips to successfully shift customer care chat associates into a sales chat team:
1. Know your team – leverage skill assessments, review employment history, and know what traits to listen for. Understanding the skill strengths – and weaknesses – of customer care chat team members is an important first step towards developing a robust sales chat team. This includes understanding not only how adept individual associates are at communicating and resolving issues for customers via chat but also how they rate at first contact resolution and customer satisfaction. Creating a holistic view of previous performance and associate skill sets can include manager feedback, sales assessments scores, AHT, CSAT, NPS and FCR to identify which reps would be good fits in the sales role. Developing a standardized template to baseline skill assessment and know what traits to listen for is a worthwhile endeavor. 

2. Teach your team – with the right sales training curriculum and on-going coaching you can teach service reps to sell. Assessing the skills and acumen of current customer care associates can help sales leaders identify those reps who have an aptitude for sales. This includes associates who consistently demonstrate empathy with customers and maintain a positive tone in their chat interactions. A well-designed sales training course can be used to fine-tune the skills and capabilities that sales leaders are looking for sales chat team members to embody during their interactions with customers and prospects. From there, sales associates can and should periodically receive hands-on coaching to address any gaps or weaknesses in their performance. 

3. Use chat library enhancements – continually develop and enhance your chat library to focus on product value, probing questions, overcoming objections, and promotions. Just like field sales and other members of the sales team, sales chat associates close more deals and do a more effective job when they are armed with the right tools and customer/prospect insights. Sales leaders should ensure that chat libraries are kept up-to-date with information that sales chat associates can use to help answer commonly asked customer questions about products, promotions, warranties, etc. 

4. Drive for exceptional performance – create a balanced scorecard with the right mix of KPIs measuring both the inputs and sales outcomes to measure success. You can’t manage what you can’t measure and this includes the performance of new or recent sales chat associates. Be sure to create a balanced scorecard which includes the key performance indicators that are most important to your sales organization. Also, create rewards and recognition programs to regularly celebrate successes and further incentivize and engage sales chat associates. 

5. Coach for continuous improvement – conducting closed loop coaching processes to review performance, identify areas for opportunity, demonstrate best practices, monitor, follow up and repeat. Great sales teams have something in common – they continually strive to get better. In addition to regularly evaluating the performance of sales chat associates for coaching opportunities, the use of text analytics and other tools can also enable sales leaders to identify skills gaps and issues that arise in customer interactions for further mentoring.

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