Why do Sharks Keep Swimming?

So they don't die, is the short answer (OK, that sentence had a distinctly Yoda-speak structure, didn't it?!). Sharks keep swimming and companies keep selling for the same reason: so they don't die.

I think that is why many of our projects lately keep getting pulled toward sales issues, even when they start out looking at some other aspect of the customer interaction. Times are tough, competition is high, and companies have a real feeling of sell more, sell better or die. If you are looking for motivators, fear of death is usually a pretty strong one.

So here is a scenario: company executives fear for their survival, and make a company-wide sales push to get the top-line numbers up. This trickles down to the call center where agents are instructed, nay scripted, to sell to every caller. Trouble is, there is a difference between a caller and an opportunity. An opportunity is created when the caller is in the right disposition to consider an offer, we say they are in a sales context. Some callers begin the call in a sales context, others will never get there, and repetitive sales scripting will have the opposite effect, making the customer want to buy less, or even leave your annoying company.

We've identified and tracked several factors that contribute to development of a sales context on a customer call. The call driver, customer attitude changes, agent rapport-building, the sequence of preceding events on the call, and the pattern of agent-customer speech all contribute to development of a sales context. Often when a customer reacts negatively to a sales script, it is not due to agent incompetence, but lack of sales context on the call. This is a process and training issue, but without understanding the factors that lead to sales context on a call for your specific business and customers, your agents will continue to be a fish out of water.