Sales Skills

Cross Sell Success…A Suggested 5-Step Plan

By Scott Addis, CEO

One of my pet peeves is being cross sold by a person or organization who has yet to deliver on the initial promise. An attempt to cross sell can back fire if you are not impressed with the original offer.

Cross selling is based on bringing value to the client team in ways that they may not have expected when they hired you.  It requires understanding the client’s business, not just focusing on the initial technical issue.  Cross selling increases the customer’s reliance on you and decreases the likelihood of switching to a competitor.  It is a critical performance indicator of an agency.  High performance “best practice” agencies know why, when and how to cross sell.  In today’s turbulent insurance marketplace and challenging economy, cross selling is no longer an option.  It must be part of the life blood of your firm.  It is a requirement for your future and that of your business. 

Although you may not be conscious of it, as a consumer, you make decisions every day on cross selling strategies.  Examples of cross sell purchases include souvenirs at sporting events, the detailing of a car at a car wash, golf balls at a pro shop and fresh squeezed lemonade and cotton candy at a carnival.  Cross selling is one of the easiest and most effective means of marketing.  It is a winning formula that takes marginal effort as compared to the original sale.  After the buyer is committed and has demonstrated pleasure with the initial experience, the subsequent sale or sales are much easier. 

Cross selling success is an important barometer for organic growth and profitability because it represents the revenue associated with each customer.  As cross selling success improves, so does revenue, customer retention and the lifetime value of each customer. 

The importance of cross selling translates into most successful enterprises.  In the fast food industry, customers are invited to try new products or complimentary items.  For example, when ordering a hamburger, the server asks if fries or a shake should accompany the order.  In retail sales, the salesperson often extends a special offer to entice the buyer to purchase a complementary item, like suggesting a tie or shirt that’s on sale to go with the new suit. 

An agency that understands the connection between cross sell success and organic growth, demonstrates significantly improved performance.  These organizations see cross selling as a key ingredient to the customer experience.  With each subsequent purchase, the agency benefits from loyalty and profitability. 

As you and your firm successfully execute a cross sell plan, you will gain enhanced knowledge about the customer.  The accumulation of wisdom about the customer is essential to a long term and mutually beneficial relationship.  I would like to suggest 5 steps to your cross sell plan.

Step #1 – 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.

Step #2 – 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. 

Step #3 – Customer relationship management.  High performing organic growth agencies have a disciplined customer relationship management system which fosters credibility, intimacy and knowledge.  A customer must feel valued before the cross selling initiatives bear fruit. 

Step #4 – 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 sell success begins and ends with the art of listening to the customer. 

Step #5 – 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. 

The 5 steps above will guarantee cross sell success!

Learn more about the author, Scott Addis.