The Addis Group Story: Cross-Selling Formula for Success

The Addis Group Case Study

In 1990, when Beyond Insurance CEO founded The Addis Group, the firm benefited from a disciplined and strategic cross sell plan. It grew and was soon recognized as one of the premier agencies in the United States - this didn’t happen dumb luck. It happened with strategy, execution, and a carefully designed cross-sell plan. Once the first sale was consummated, each member of The Addis Group understood his or her role as related to cross-sell execution. A cross-sell map, score cards, incentives, and reports energized the system.

The Addis Group’s plan incorporated eight cross-sell components. While the majority of steps involved exposure identification encompassed in a client-focused “discovery process,” the Stewardship Review proved to be the most opportune time to cross sell. The Stewardship Review was conducted at the six-month point of the renewal process and was focused on deepening the customer relationship. At each Review, members of The Addis Group carefully listened to the client talk about his or her visions, aspirations, and goals – personally and professionally. While time was spent on the performance of The Addis Group, the primary intention of the meeting was to better understand each client’s short- and long-term objectives. They encouraged the client to speak about the strengths of his or her business, opportunities for enhanced performance, and potential issues that impacted the organization’s bottom line.  It was the discovery of goals and the recognition of issues that facilitated The Addis Group’s ability to connect the cross-sell dots.

The Addis Group’s cross sell plan was supported by a handful of strategic initiatives including customer intimacy benchmarking, client profile forms, newsletters, e-newsletters, and risk management leadership forums. In 2011, The Addis Group instituted its “21 Club” – a team-oriented, fun program through which members of the firm received points for cross selling and referral harvesting initiatives. The 21 Club included monthly score cards and quarterly recognition. It added energy, discipline, and revenue to the firm’s cross-sell system.

How could you apply The Addis Group’s successful cross-selling lessons in your own business? Let’s take a look.

Cracking the Cross-Sell Code

If you are serious about a results-oriented cross-sell system, there are 10 strategies that will guarantee success:

  • Strategy #1 – Cross-Sell Plan. As with any successful initiative, you must have a plan. Cross-selling success begins with a strategy map which responds to the questions Why?, When?, and How? 
  • Strategy #2 – Understand the client’s concerns. The biggest obstacle to cross-sell success is not knowing enough about the client. While agents and brokers have vast data, most lack a “discovery process” to understand the customer’s goals, passions, and struggles. High-performing organic growth agencies understand the importance of uncovering customer issues to position cross-sell opportunities.
  • Strategy #3 – Fulfill each and every promise. The foundation for cross-selling success requires you to excel on the initial project. You must solve the specific issue at hand before introducing a second initiative. You will consistently be rewarded for jumping over the bar with room to spare.
  • Strategy #4 – The principle of worthy intent. Cross-sell experts always put the customer’s interests ahead of their own. Your cross-sell initiatives should always be focused on improving the performance of those you serve.
  • Strategy #5 – Connectivity. Cross-selling success involves connecting a subsequent sale to the initial engagement. It requires helping clients understand how decisions they make in one area uniquely position you and your team to expand your role in other areas.
  • Strategy #6 – Know your capabilities and limitations. To effectively cross sell, you must feel confident with the products, services, and capabilities of your firm as well as the limitations of your organization.
  • Strategy #7 – Trust others in your firm. Cross-sell strategies often fail because people do not effectively work together. They have not learned to trust each other. To stimulate cross-selling success, consider bringing your associates together to build knowledge, trust, and respect.
  • Strategy #8 – Customer relationship management. High-performing organic growth agencies have a disciplined customer relationship management system that fosters credibility, intimacy, and knowledge. A customer must feel valued before the cross-selling initiatives bear fruit.
  • Strategy #9 – The art of listening. Far too often, agents and brokers spend too much time demonstrating their level of expertise in the sales process. Their presentations are self-serving and viewed by the customer as “product dumps.”  Cross-selling success begins and ends with the art of listening to the customer.
  • Strategy #10 – Benchmarking cross-sell performance. The success of your cross-sell plan requires measuring and benchmarking plan performance in a variety of ways including revenue generation, cross-sell hit ratios, and retention.

Cross selling…your most important strategy to build brand loyalty, increase revenues, and drive profits.



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