Sales Skills

Knowing Your Customer… The Key to Cross-selling Success

Warning:  Never seem more interested in delivering additional products or services until the current one performs well!  Be patient.  Over time, clients will trust that you have their best interests in mind.  This will create a path for future cross-selling opportunities.

Cross-selling is based on bringing value to your clients in ways they may not have expected when they hired you. Knowing your customer is essential for cross-selling success.

How do existing clients feel about being cross sold?  Are they enthusiastic?  You bet.  Especially if you have delivered on your initial promise. Clients embrace cross-sell strategies as they enable them to tap more deeply into the capabilities of a team whom they already trust and respect.

The foundation for cross-selling success is built upon your knowledge of the client.  An intimate understanding of your clients’ personal and professional needs puts you in a position to recommend additional solutions.  Here are five simple ways to get to know your clients better:

  1. Focus on building deep relationships with your existing clients outside of the 90-day bidding cycle.  The number one obstacle to cross-selling success is not knowing enough about the client or organization being served.  While you may have a handle on your client’s technical issues, the big-picture view must also be in focus.

    The most opportune time to gain a big-picture view of your client is at the six-month point of the policy term in the form of a Stewardship Review, where you deepen the client relationship and understand what keeps him or her up at night.  Invest time and energy to increase your understanding of the client’s business and personal goals, dreams, and aspirations!

  2. Ask client-focused questions.  Get your clients to talk about their issues and concerns, particularly as it relates to your cross-sell portfolio.  Avoid asking questions about your own performance, such as “How do you feel we’re doing?” or “Are you satisfied with the way I’m handling your account?”  These are not client-focused; they are you-focused.  Instead, encourage your client to speak about the strengths of his or her business, opportunities for enhanced performance, and potential issues that impact the organization’s and/or family’s bottom line.
  3. In the Stewardship Review, do not brag, tout or demonstrate your other capabilities.  Clients often perceive these as self-serving “product dumps.” In the Stewardship Review, you are there to listen, learn, and build trust.  When this occurs, your clients will freely tell you about their concerns and issues…essential ingredients to cross-selling success.
  4. Listen, listen, listen.  Your client should talk 80% of the time.  That means you should be listening 80% of the time.  If you find yourself talking more than 20%, stop.  You cannot formulate cross-selling strategies without understanding your clients’ visions, goals, and aspirations – personally and professionally.
  5. Benchmark cross-selling 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.

The following 5-step best practice cross-sell plan will dramatically improve your success:

  1. Know the client’s business and personal situation from the inside out
  2. Build deep relationships with your existing client base
  3. Acquire knowledge of the products and services to be cross sold
  4. Connect the additional product or service to the original sale
  5. Measure and benchmark customer enthusiasm and engagement

Cross-selling offers advantages to you as well as your clients. It not only creates more stable and loyal customers, it diversifies your portfolio, and brings in a more steady revenue flow.  Importantly, cross-selling provides additional protection and value for your clients.  Knowing your customers…the key to cross-selling success.