Too many online businesses miss the sweetest selling opportunity of all.

Imagine you’re having an issue with a product you’ve purchased. You call the seller’s customer service representative (CSR) number for help, where you’re greeted warmly and listened to attentively. Your issue is then resolved quickly and professionally. Grateful, you thank the person who says you’re welcome and casually mentions Product A would serve you even better if paired with Product B. You’re feeling good about this person because they’ve just helped you, so you’re more likely be open to the suggestion.

This is why teaching your CSRs to “sell” will improve your profitability.

Here’s how to do it.

Listen Carefully

In the instance above, you were more likely to be open to their suggestion because your problem was resolved quickly and easily. Hearing the warmth and gratitude in your tone was the CSR’s cue to tell you about the benefits of Product B. Had the call been adversarial in nature, offering you another product could have had very negative results. Teach your CSRs to listen carefully for clues that it’s OK to cross sell or upsell. They must also be careful to offer products that make sense for the situation. If you’re calling about Product A and the CSR drops a mention for totally unrelated Product T, they will encounter resistance and the you would feel manipulated—which is something they should always avoid.

Put The Customer’s Needs First

The offering has to make sense in the context of the call. This means the CSR must consider the customer’s needs before suggesting a product. During the course of their conversation, the CSR should also be listening for customer pain points and considering products that might alleviate them in some way. Remember, the customer’s first question will always be “What’s in it for me?” when presented something new. Product B should be presented in terms of its benefit.  For example, if you’re selling ebooks, your CSR could say; “Do you have Book B yet? It completes the story told in Book A and brings its characters more into focus. Since you have Book A already, I can get you a 20 percent discount on B as our way of saying we’re sorry you had a problem.”

Timing Is Everything

Again, the CSR must pay attention to the rhythm of the call to determine whether it will be appropriate to add on Product B.  Further, Product B should only get brought into the conversation once the CSR is certain the customer is satisfied and happy. If the customer has been extremely angry throughout the call and the CSR barely got them calmed down enough to explain the issue, suggestive selling should be the farthest thought from their mind. It’s the customer service department first and a sales opportunity second. Your goal should always be to add value to the customer’s life. Yes, you want to increase your revenue too, but that can’t be your guiding motivation.

CSRs Should Suggest—Not Sell

In many cases, when you tell CSRs you want them to sell, you’ll encounter some resistance. Most people go into customer service rather than sales because they don’t feel comfortable selling. It’s important to help them understand they are merely suggesting complementing products to the customer (when appropriate) rather than actively selling. Under no circumstances should your CSR team ever actively sell, or even give the appearance of doing so. This is a very fast road to ruining a customer relationship.

Teaching your CSRs to sell is as much about managing their experience as it is attending to the customer’s. If your only goal is to make money, everyone will be uncomfortable. When your priority is to make life better for your customer, both parties will be more receptive.