You’ve hired a team of bang-up customer support representatives. You may have even done so with the help of predictive hiring tools, so your team is performing like a well-oiled machine. Additionally, if your representatives are hitting or exceeding hourly goals and your customer satisfaction is good, it’s clear you’ve got a great group of workers in your call center.
With so much customer interaction, what’s the harm in having your reps throw a sales pitch into their calls? After all, the sheer volume of interactions presents a gold mine of additional revenue opportunities.
Unfortunately, things are rarely that simple when it comes to complex human beings. Time and time again, job family research and data-driven hiring have shown us that great customer service skills don’t necessarily translate into great sales skills. In fact, both roles require different characteristics, and while interviews can help you identify some skills necessary, the only way to tell if a candidate truly fits the bill is with the help of tools like pre-hire assessments.
Core Competencies Examples for Inbound Sales and Customer Service
Recently, many companies have begun to utilize the “two birds with one stone” strategy in an attempt to churn out more revenue for the price of, well, almost nothing. Though the original customer service job description may not have included sales duties, each customer support interaction is yet another opportunity for employees to bring new products or services to the attention of what is more or less a captive audience. So then, why not add sales into the mix?
And it’s understandable why companies would utilize this tactic. Reduced headcounts and a changing technological and economic landscape have left many businesses scrambling to keep up with the chaos of layoffs, turnover, and decreased profits.
The trouble with asking employees to upsell or cross-sell products during a customer service interaction is while these tasks seem like an afterthought that can be tacked onto their list of regular responsibilities, competency assessments for customer support roles tell us that salesmanship and customer care require a few inherently different skills.
However, in an attempt to drive more revenue more quickly, these key differences between the role of a customer service representative and salesperson tend to get overlooked by executives and business leaders. In other words, the business's objectives may have changed but the people who have been hired haven’t, and it is important to understand this.
When you’re objective is hiring top talent for either sales or customer support, the characteristics you’re going to be looking for won’t be the same, so it's important to identify core competencies necessary to succeed in each individual role. For example, take the skillset of a good customer support representative, and measure it against that of a good salesperson:
Though there is some overlap, there are also some substantial differences between the qualities necessary to effectively handle either role.
The three core competencies that show up in the list for effective salesmanship are sales aptitude, integrity, and self-confidence. In turn, professionalism, decision-making, and stress tolerance are three incredibly important qualities in a good customer care representative.
Organizations that choose to add sales duties to a customer support role have effectively changed the job role. That said, disregarding the importance of a core competency (or two, or three) required to perform a particular role well is usually one of the biggest reasons trying to make your customer support team double as a sales team oftentimes fails.
3 Tips to Find Candidates with the Right Sets of Core Competencies
Finding those unicorn employees with the core competencies necessary to perform the duties of customer service representatives and salesmen equally well can be a challenge for organizations, but it’s not impossible, especially with the help of tools like pre-hire assessments.
Think about the scope of a customer support role. Representatives must be able to interpret, understand, and find a resolution for a customer’s issue as quickly as possible, while simultaneously entering data into their respective systems. Add to that the responsibilities of making a sale, and now the representative must attempt to identify potential opportunities to get the customer to accept a new product or service.
Successfully achieving a resolution and making a sale in the same interaction will probably require a representative to use skills he or she has not developed, and that weren’t required for the role to begin with, even if an employee performance evaluation was used initially.
There are a few ways hiring managers can attract and identify candidates who have the capacity to perform both the service and sales components needed to be successful in the new type of role:
- Your company should expect to add to and expand its recruiting resources. This could include everything from utilizing pre-employment assessments to adding additional recruiting manpower and interview time.
- It may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t forget to be honest with your customer service job description. Update it to include new duties and expectations so candidates aren’t caught off-guard by the sales component of the role.
- Create interactive tools like videos outlining the specific role the candidate will be stepping into. This is a good opportunity to eliminate ambiguity and showcase successful representatives describing their roles.
You can use an employee performance evaluation to evaluate both veterans and new hires against the updated, blended sales and service profile. The representatives who best match the new profile can start handling the service and sales portions of the job.
With the help of tools like pre-hire assessments, you can make smart, well-informed decisions based on good data and operating intelligence. Also, by understanding the difference in skill sets between sales reps and customer service reps, you will more easily be able to take the necessary actions to align your talent with your revenue goals.