As more and more companies rely heavily on a sales force of call center agents and customers are becoming more informed and adept consumers, call center agents who engage in adaptive selling are critical to the company’s success.
Adaptive selling is the altering of sales behavior during a customer interaction or across customer interactions. Below are 14 tips to enhance the adaptive selling techniques of your call center agents:
1. Gain domain-specific knowledge of the product/service
Salespeople should acquire expertise and specific knowledge about the product or service that they are selling. They should be an information powerhouse and have the skills to effectively answer any question or concern addressed by the customers.
Tip: Spend time training agents to thoroughly understand the product or service and to feel competent selling it. They should understand the technical aspects of the product or service, any potential issues (e.g. compatibility issues, limitations, etc.) and how to effectively use the product or service. They should maintain constant communication with the technical and support teams so they are always up to date on current issues and features.
2. Gain specific knowledge of the customer
Salespeople who personalize their interactions and have a good understanding of the customer are more effective than those who do not.
Tip: Ensure that your team is well prepared with call center software that displays the entire history of the customer when a call is placed or received.
3. Categorize the customer
Salespeople who quickly and accurately categorize the customer type can adapt their sales approach to fit the specific need of the customer.
Tip: Ensure that your agents are well trained on the 4 types of customer stylesand how to adapt their sales approach based on the type of customer.
4. Adapt to the customer’s communication style
Adapting to a customer’s social and communication style will facilitate trust and the building of a relationship.
Tip: Train agents to recognize their own style of interacting, how to recognize a customer’s specific style of interacting and how to adjust their style to fit the customers.
5. Quickly build rapport
Effective salespeople not only sell a product, they sell a relationship. They should quickly build trust and establish an excellent relationship with the customer.
Tip: Salespeople should build an alliance with the customer and convey the message that they will be working in collaboration to solve their problem or find them the best product.
6. Personalize the interaction
Salespeople who would like to excel at adaptive selling should offer their name, build a personalized relationship and tailor their conversation to the needs of the customer. This will increase the comfort level of the customer and will facilitate trust. They should also use the information they have about the customer to customize the interaction and sell the most appropriate product.
Tip: Encouraging your agents to offer more personalized information during their customer interactions starts with equipping them with the right tools. Call center software that provides real time comprehensive informarmation about the caller such as caller demographics, previous call recordings, voicemails, emails and social media postings allows agents to provide more personalized service. Using this information, agents can better understand their customer and tailor their conversation to their specific needs.
7. Empathize with the customer
Salespeople should understand and identify with the customer’s needs and communicate empathyfor that individual. This will facilitate effective problem solving, selling and upselling.
Tip: Train salespeople to be able to think about the situation from the perspective of the customer. This will help the agents understand the feelings, needs and desires of the customer. The more information they have about the customer, the easier this process will be.
8. Take control early and keep control
Effective salespeople should take control of the sales process and feel confident in their abilities to lead their customer towards a successful sales transaction.
Tip: Train your agents to use acquired knowledge about the customer to anticipate their needs and lead them in the most favorable direction. They should always be confident and competent and never let the customer steer the conversation.
9. Match their behavior to the situation
Salespeople should adapt their sales behaviors to the characteristics of the customer and specific situation. For example, if the customer is in a rush, the agent should notice that and change their sales pitch to be more concise and immediately effective.
Tip: Train your agents to become acutely aware of changes in tone, speech content or attitude and adjust their behavior accordingly. They should know when to rely on the sales script and when to change course to adapt to the customer.
10. Accurately identify the customer’s needs
Salespeople should identify the customer’s fear, needs and desires; even if the customer doesn’t directly verbalize them. This is an extremely important skill and can be a distinguishing factor between good and excellent salespeople.
Tip: Train your sales team to identify the spoken and unspoken needs of a customer. Ensure that they have comprehensive information about the customer in order for them to accurately assess the situation.
11. Anticipate the customer’s needs
Salespeople should always be one step ahead of the customer, proactive and capitalize on opportunities to up-sell. They should know the answer to the customer’s question before they ask it, offer helpful solutions and address anticipated issues before they happen.
Tip: Ensure that your team has access to relevant information about all products. This includes all features, potential service issues, costs, compatibility issues, etc. They should use this information, as well as the information about the customer to anticipate the customer’s needs.
12. Effectively identify and define sales situations
Salespeople should use good listening skillsto classify a specific sales situation. They should accomplish this by noting tone of voice, rate of speech and the types of questions asked.
Tip: Train your salespeople using recordings of previous interactions with agents that exemplify this process. Also, be sure to continually monitor for effective listening behaviors and classification of sales situations. Provide immediate feedback to the salesperson so that they can learn from their mistakes.
13. Effectively select courses of action
Based on the information gathered from the customer (e.g. level of interest, tone of voice, degree of excitement expressed), salespeople should choose the most appropriate course of action. They should base their decision on intuition, previous experience and expertise.
Tip: When training salespeople, ensure that they have a comprehensive understanding of all (or as many as possible) potential courses of action. Provide immediate feedback to the salesperson about the effectiveness of their chosen course of action and any possible alternatives.
14. Skillfully perform tasks within a stated domain
Once a decision has been made, salespeople should execute an action plan flawlessly. They should do so in a timely manner with the resources they have available.
Tip: Ensure that salespeople are making effective use of collaborative methods. They should utilize team-member’s expertise and experience when executing an action plan.