Want to protect your accounts from poaching? Sell them more

by on January 28, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Top Sales Dog

Everyone knows that current customers are your best source of new business. Experts estimate that one in four of existing customers has upgrade potential. Try getting those odds when you’re cold calling!

Yet many salespeople find plenty of reasons not to cross-sell. The customer’s potential is already maxed out, they tell themselves. Why rock the boat?

Of course, these are often the same customers who turn around and give your competitor a big order for something you could have provided.

But added revenue isn’t the most important reason to cross-sell (although it’s a good one). The most important reason is to protect the sales you already have. Research shows that the more products or services a customer purchases from you, the less likely they are to defect. Missed cross-selling opportunities give customers reasons to shop around – and competitors a way to weasel in.

It’s mine — all mine!
Another reason salespeople are slow to cross-sell: They fear they will lose control over the customer relationship. After they’ve worked so hard to cultivate that relationship, why should they risk it for someone else – even someone from their own company?

Upselling and cross-selling doesn’t have to threaten your relationship with the buyer. It can strengthen it — by making you more valuable.

When you bring others into the sales process, you don’t have to surrender control. If you have a strong relationship with the customer you’re the best one to act as broker. Sit in on the initial meetings. Insist that your colleagues keep you in the loop. And let your customer know that you’re always available if any problems arise.

Looking dumb
Over lunch one day, your customer mentions that the backroom boys are having trouble establishing stable cross-platform functionality on their legacy system.

You smile and nod, then quickly change the subject.

Many cross-selling opportunities are missed because salespeople don’t want to look dumb to their customers. But there’s nothing wrong in simply saying, “Tell me more.” You cannot cross-sell a solution to a problem you don’t understand.The more you know about what your customer is doing, the more you can sell.

Not my department
You don’t have to be an expert in everything. But you need to be able to say more than, “Oh, Bill handles that area. I’ll have him give you a call.”
Be prepared to answer these questions:

  • Why is your firm qualified?
  • What makes you different from the competition?
  • Where is the synergy with what you’re currently supplying?

Finding the opportunities
If you keep in mind what your customer ultimately wants to achieve with your product or service, you can nearly always come up with profitable add-ons. To uncover these opportunities, ask questions like these:

  • What do my customers do before they buy my goods or services?
  • What do they do after they buy?
  • What do they buy to go with my product or service?
  • Who else is connected to this sale? What do my customer’s bosses or subordinates need?

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