Sales Training in Contact Centers

By Bob Morrell on February 2, 2021

Sales Training is the Missing Link.

If you go back to 2005-7, before the financial crash, life was very different for us as consumers, and companies who ran contact centres. With easier credit, rising wages, and most people in jobs, it was very easy to service the higher demand driven by the credit boom. People felt they could afford things and all a company needed to do was employ people who could take their transactions through to completion.

As such, sales training in contact centres at this time was pretty limited. In fact, there was much more training devoted to product knowledge. Then, after the crash, money got scarcer, and consumers became choosier. Suddenly it became essential for contact centre advisors and agents to know how to persuade customers that their products or services were the best solutions.

Sadly, many of the staff, who were excellent administrators, processing orders, were totally untrained when it came to 2 key elements; how to persuade a customer that what we offer is right for them, and how to keep that customer, for future business.

Sales training for contact centres was a dirty word for many years. We delivered projects where people asked us to deliberately not use the words ‘sales’ or ‘selling’ for fear of putting people off, so we had to use things like ‘sales through service’ or ‘enhanced service skills’.

Ultimately, it amounts to the same thing. If you are speaking to customers directly, and helping them to buy, renew or stay with you, or to buy again, then you’re selling. You can dress it up in whatever verbiage you like, but they will need sales training in the contact centres so they can understand what it is, that helps customers to make the decision to buy.

The Right Salespeople?

If I don’t need my staff to sell, then I don’t need to pay them as much as a salesperson, I just need to pay them enough to process orders for me. If I now expect them to start actively selling – i.e. persuading people who weren’t considering buying that now is the right time, or persuading customers who were going elsewhere that they should stay with us, then I may need to pay them more. Perhaps I should have paid them more in the first place and trained them more effectively, but regardless of that, I need them to convert more browsers into buyers and leavers into stayers. Sales Training bridges that gap in skills.

Although, it is probably fair to say that many of those in contact centres would never have applied for a job as a salesperson, and yet that is what we are now, expecting them to be. One of the new big trends, driven more quickly by the pandemic, is the move towards virtual contact centres where consumers will actually see the advisor. Face to face, no hiding, warts and all. Many of those who enjoy contact centre life are happy with the anonymity of the work, so only very few will have the innate confidence to actually face a customer.

New Habits – Sales Training Exposes the Wrong Language, Tone and Strategy

If sales training in contact centres builds confidence, it also exposes some habits that have built up over years. These include; apologising, empathy, removing patronising and rude language and tone, disloyal bonding where the advisor conspires with the customer, and the de-valuing of products and services, through discounting too early and at a higher percentage than necessary.


Most customers never believe the sincerity of a corporate apology. A ‘Sorry for your wait’ is hardly a reasonable compensation for being on hold for 20 minutes. Sales training will help each advisor win over the customer through using the right language to apologise and move quickly into providing solutions.


In sales training for contact centres, we often have to help people understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. If you sympathise with the customer’s position you are effectively taking their side, and spiralling with them, and their complaint, in a way that is potentially damaging for the brand. Empathy helps you understand the customer’s position, gets that across, and builds a positive way out that works for both sides – this is the essence of decent, integrity-led sales training.

Patronising Explanations

We’ve probably all been on the receiving end of an explanation that treats us like idiots; ‘Basically, what this gives you is…’. Sales training helps us use great questions to work out the customer’s level of knowledge and understanding, so we can choose the right information to tell them – not everything and the kitchen sink.


Some people in contact centres think it is okay to interrupt customers and say ‘let’s pop a pin in that’ (telling them to shut up). Or ask a male customer ‘who wears the trousers in your house’ as if that is still an appropriate way to behave. The right sales training for contact centres will help modernise your customer interactions which means fewer complaints. 

Disloyal Bonding

‘Yes, you’re quite right, you’ve been paying much higher prices than you need to…’ Great, so the customers have been ‘ripped off’ for ages and we’re telling them that. Or ‘the system has meant your product is held up’ – so your system is so poor quality? Why not just admit that in the first place? We use these and other types of bonding because we are sometimes scared of the consequences of telling the truth. In all truth, customers don’t like this type of behaviour because it devalues the service and product just as much as heavily discounting. Sales training around disloyal bonding creates better language and behaviours.

Massive Discounts.

Similarly, if we drop our prices too quickly, customers either think they’ve paid way too much before, or that the quality has dropped in some way. Pricing is a tricky thing to get right, but in contact centres without decent sales training some advisors can make twenty pence sound like a lot of money. Companies without a trained negotiation structure will always perform sub-optimally because advisors have no structure to help guide their prices.

Sales Training in Contact Centres Summary

In the 2020s, the world of selling will be essential for post pandemic recovery. Well trained salespeople will become vital for all contact centres. Those contact centres that persist with poorly trained order processors will miss out on the golden opportunity that selling gives them and without that sales training they very much risk losing their businesses at the hands of better focused sales operations.

How to Sell Right Now begins on February 26th, we have an early bird that runs until the 12th of this month.  For more details see