Cooperation is always a winning strategy – be it in life or in business.
Working together (instead of only being responsible for a narrow area or your own interests) is always a better idea when it comes to long-term results.
Hence, a common headache for most B2B companies is to make their key teams – sales, marketing and customer service – work as a well-oiled machine.
While the notorious beef between sales and marketing is still an uphill battle for most, sales and customer service (CS) seem to be more aligned when it comes to addressing customer needs.
But are B2B companies aware of the full potential of the cooperation between sales and CS?
Tapping into CS-Sales cooperation potential
In our most recent European B2B CS report we found out that although B2B companies acknowledge the impact of CS teams on sales and revenue growth, only a few of them allow their CS teams to sell directly.
- 18% of respondents said that their CS team can propose additional products or services (upselling/cross-selling).
- 13% of respondents said that their CS team can sell products directly.
- The majority of surveyed businesses task their CS team to contribute to revenue growth by increasing customer satisfaction through great customer service.
This means that the majority of B2B companies either don’t realize the underlying potential of involving CS in the sales process, or have a narrow view of this potential, limited only to offering great customer care.
How can CS teams support sales?
Although divided into different departments, customer service and sales have a lot in common. On a general level, sales bring the customers in, while customer service reps make them stay by taking care of them.
But such division is provisional.
If a business chooses a customer-centric approach, CS teams truly become new sales engines. Because such companies focus on delivering great service that drives future sales.
These businesses know that for 83% of consumers, good customer service is the most important factor (outside of price and product) when deciding what to buy.
So, yes, sales in a way depend on customer service. Especially when it comes to increasing customer life value and ensuring recurrent revenue. 🚀
Here are a few examples of how CS can support salespeople and contribute to increased sales.
✅ Generating customer referrals: Customer referrals are true gems for businesses because customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher customer retention rate. Not to mention that 8 in 10 B2B decision-makers state that the B2B buying process starts with a referral.
And those are the CS agents that can uncover those gems through their interactions with satisfied customers. The CS team can then hand over these leads to the sales team for follow-up, thus increasing the number of sales opportunities.
✅ Sharing customer feedback: Another source of valuable sales insights is customer feedback that CS teams actively gather. By sharing this feedback with the sales team, CS agents can provide accurate information about customer preferences, pain points, and areas for improvement. Salespeople can then tailor their sales strategies and pitches accordingly, leading to more effective customer engagements and increased sales.
✅ Upselling: Nudging a customer to upgrade or buy a higher-priced product or service is one of the key sources of revenue for B2Bs. On average, upselling increases revenue by 10-30%, while 70-95% of business revenue comes from upsells and renewals.
And you guessed it right – CS representatives play a key role here! They can identify upselling opportunities by diving deep into the customer's needs, preferences, and budget. They can then recommend a premium version of the product or suggest additional features or upgrades that match the customer's requirements.
Studies show that 73% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations as individual customers. When customer service representatives have a thorough understanding of customers and their preferences, they can provide more tailored upselling suggestions.
Showcasing the added value and benefits that are relevant to real customer needs, the CS agent can encourage the customer to consider the upgrade (or pass on this knowledge to a salesperson). This leads to increased sales and higher profit margins.
✅ Cross-selling: CS teams can also use their connection with the customers to offer complementary or related products or services that may potentially enhance their overall experience. It’s easier for CS agents to identify cross-selling opportunities because they understand their customers’ needs, preferences, and the context of their purchase. Therefore, CS teams can successfully cross-sell and thus increase the total purchase value and even improve customer satisfaction.
According to a study by Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. And it is the CS team that can offer more personalized recommendations – simply because they know the customers’ needs better.
6 ways CS teams can help with upselling and cross-selling
A report by McKinsey revealed that cross-selling and upselling efforts have the potential to increase revenue by 20-30%. To effectively execute upselling and cross-selling, customer service teams should consider the following strategies:
1. Product knowledge
As a CS representative you should have a deep understanding of your product or service offerings. This allows you to confidently explain the benefits and advantages of higher-priced options or complementary products, addressing any customer objections or doubts effectively. In this case, being a “know-it-all” actually works!
2. Understanding customer needs
To really understand the real needs of a customer, you need to actively listen to customer inquiries and concerns and analyze the customer's requirements, preferences, and pain points. This helps you, as a CS agent, better identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling and offer relevant and value-added recommendations.
Businesses, like people, are unique. Get super personal to tailor your upselling and cross-selling recommendations to individual customer needs and preferences. For this you need to pay attention to the customer's purchase history, preferences, and past interactions. These insights will help you come up with personalized suggestions that resonate better with the customer.
4. Emphasizing benefits and value
Benefits sell. That’s why it’s important to emphasize the additional benefits and especially value the customer will receive by opting for an upgraded or additional product. Explain how it all aligns with their current needs, improves their experience, or solves additional problems, ultimately enhancing their overall satisfaction.
5. Timing and relevance
The timing is everything when it comes to upselling and cross-selling. You should be careful and find the right moments during customer interactions to make recommendations. Make sure they are relevant to the conversation you’re having, and most importantly – relevant to the customer’s current needs. Give them what they actually need, not what you think they need.
6. Transparency and honesty
Honesty is always the best policy. Be transparent and honest when you suggest upsells and cross-sells. Clearly communicate not only the features and benefits of the recommended options, but also pricing. This will ensure that the customer understands what they are getting into and why. Don’t push, just give transparent information and make an honest suggestion.
SuperOffice success story
SuperOffice makes award-winning CRM software for sales, marketing and customer service. We help European B2B companies build strong and loyal customer relationships.
And that’s why we pay special attention to the relationships we create with our own customers – through both customer service and sales.
Our CS team has been actively involved in generating qualified leads for sales. This is how Stein Ove Sektnan, Managing Director of SuperOffice’s Customer Experience Center explains his team’s achievements:
“When a customer contacts customer support, they have already a need. If their need is training, more licenses, help in changing the solution’s configuration, etc., they are really ready to accept a quote to solve their needs. And we are using this opportunity!
“In 2022 we started to track this. And our company generated €29,000 in additional service sales, along with license revenues, from the leads provided by our customer support team!
“We are continuing with this in 2023, and so far, the number of generated leads makes us think that we will make up to €100,000 in additional service revenue in 2023.”
Stein Ove explains what companies’ management should do to benefit from the CS-Sales cooperation:
“Management needs to create an environment where opportunities are:
- Detected (by the support agent),
- Qualified by the designated person(s) (could be both support and sales),
- Followed up swiftly (while the need is still warm).”
“In unity there is strength,” said Aesop – the legendary storyteller of the Ancient Greece – in one of his fables.
If put into modern words, it means that cooperation is always a winning strategy.
- If building long-term customer relationships is your business goal, then you should focus on making your sales and CS teams work in tandem.
- If you’re after sustainable revenue growth, then your sales and CS teams should always share real-time customer information.
Doing it in silos will lead to (at best) mediocre results.
When you understand that CS teams can play a vital role in supporting your salespeople and contributing to increased sales, it gets easier to find ways that promote cooperation, communication, and knowledge sharing between the two.
If you want to learn about the state of B2B customer service and learn how you can help your CS teams build long-lasting and profitable customer relationships, then download our new European B2B Customer Service Report.