Sales Skills

Cross-selling as an Essential Strategy for Sales Success

Is cross-selling part of your strategic business plan in 2018 and beyond?  If not, it should be.  Cross-selling is an essential strategy to enhance brand loyalty, increase revenues, and maximize the value of your client relationships.

Cross-selling is based on bringing value to your clients in ways they may not have expected when they hired you.  Your best practice cross-sell strategy map begins by doing an A+ job on the initial client engagement, developing deep relationships, and understanding their concerns so you can deliver products, services, and resources that complement the original offering.  Done properly, cross-selling increases your customer’s reliance on you and decreases the likelihood of switching to a competitor.

Recently, a producer in a Reach Your Peak performance enhancement program said, “If you are not cross-selling, it means that you really don’t know what keeps your clients up at night.  And, you are leaving money on the table!” How true!

The research of Beyond Insurance indicates that the vast majority of producers and account managers do not cross-sell effectively because they have not learned the art of discovery nor know how to utilize a consultative and diagnostic sales process.  According to a Beyond Insurance Survey of 7,000 agents and brokers, only 27% state that they have a disciplined, strategic, results-oriented cross-selling system.

Your client will not be receptive to your cross-selling attempt unless you have developed the following four key components:

  1. Credibility
  2. Trust
  3. Customer Intimacy and Loyalty
  4. Knowledge and Know How

These four components are best evidenced by customer engagement and enthusiasm leading to retention, referrals and cross-sell opportunities.

Cross-selling takes marginal effort as compared to the original purchase.  If a buyer is pleased with the initial experience, subsequent sales are much easier.  A research study by Deloitte LLP found that the odds of selling a product or service to a new customer are generally about 15% as compared to 50% for a satisfied existing customer — and the cost of selling to a new customer is 5 to 8 times more than selling to an existing one.

Finding new customers is important, but keeping your existing clients satisfied is the secret ingredient to cross-selling success.  To be effective at cross-selling, Deloitte found that you need to have a “unified view of your customer base as well as insights on customer behavior, preferences and lifestyles.”  In other words, you need to know your clients from the inside out before trying to cross-sell them.

Cross-selling opportunities occur when you have solutions to risks and business needs as well as access to products, services, and resources that fulfill your clients’ needs.  An obvious cross-sell area for P&C producers is employee benefits and financial services, but others could include business travel accident coverage as a complement to workers comp; business interruption or contingent business interruption in addition to property coverage; and cyber liability if your client is housing customer information.

If you are in personal lines, you must feel capable, confident, and credible to offer an array of insurance and risk management strategies to properly protect the family.  This includes not only property and liability risks but extends to the perils of life, disability, and long-term care.

Make it your goal to learn every nuance and detail about your client – personally and professionally.  When you have a comprehensive understanding of the business and your client’s lifestyle interests, the faster your clients will perceive you as a trusted advisor and feel confident in your recommendations.  It goes without saying that you must make certain that your solutions make sense for the client’s situation, given their risk tolerance, family or business situation, and budget.