It All Adds Up
Up-selling or positioning higher-priced products or services in a good-to-best progression can be intimidating to new reps, who often feel lucky just to have won the sale in the first place. Practicing methods of up-selling, however, can give them ways to use this highly effective tool. You can also discuss various ways to cross-sell by offering clients a related product and service, since the two sales strategies are similar.
Start by getting reps to think differently about sales, says Craig Harrison, founder and principal of Expressions of Excellence. “Get reps to look at sales as a service,” he says. “When they approach sales this way, they really aren’t trying to force unwanted or unnecessary products on a client. It’s about helping their clients grow or save money and succeed. When reps come from a service standpoint, I really believe the customer receives it differently.”
Next, explore the anatomy of a successful cross- or up-sell scenario. “I like to have seasoned reps share their success stories and then have the sales team dissect the stories to discover what made them successes,” explains Harrison.
Role-play customer/rep scenarios. “Once reps share success stories, I break them into groups of two and ask them to re-create that success story through role playing,” says Harrison. “This way they can explore variations of that success.”
Review product and service lines, and show how they interrelate. “List all of your products and services, and look at migration paths for each,” says Harrison, who uses markers on a whiteboard or paper to diagram and trace the different migration paths. “What are some natural cross-sells? What are some logical up-sells? It may really surprise people when some reps in the room say, ‘Well, I’ve always gone from product A to product D,’ and another rep says, ‘I always go from product A to product F, with G and H to complement that.’ You will find that there are different migration patterns – maybe there are different paths for different types of companies.”
Brainstorm to develop different product or service bundles. For example, maybe one of your reps decides to bundle products “A” and “C” for a discount. Or another rep offers a special price if a customer purchases product “A” with a regularly scheduled maintenance service. This activity may even spark new options.
Teach your reps to identify client dissatisfaction or frustrations. “We are so focused on what to say and word choice, but it’s really more about listening,” says Harrison. “The questions that customers ask can give us great insight into their problems, needs, thought processes, and fears. For example, if they are expressing some frustration with a product, chances are you have a different product or more enhanced package of services that could help them. Use what they are saying as the basis for your up-sell or cross-sell.
“It’s a fallacy that up-selling and cross-selling are what you do once you have an order,” he adds. “You can up-sell on cancellations, reorders, and when people call in for technical support or general information. There are so many opportunities, but you have to review them for your reps. A regular sale can be just the place to do that.”
Practice bridge statements with games and activities. “Weekly or monthly sales meetings are great opportunities to practice bridge statements, by which you transition from one conversation to explore other product or service lines or packages,” says Harrison. “A good way to practice bridge statements or transitions is to play a game called the progressive story. Start a story and define its scope – perhaps it’s a story of a sales call at which you are refilling an order. Take the conversation so far, and then point or toss a ball or beanbag to someone in the hot seat, and this person has to come up with a logical bridge to another service or product. Then this rep points to another person, and so on. It’s all about getting people to think on their feet.”
Help reps to understand their clients’ buying patterns and profiles. “If reps discover a regular pattern, they can anticipate and let the customers know that they are aware of the pattern,” says Harrison. “It’s just as important for reps to recognize anomalies. Encourage reps to stay in touch and gather information constantly. Chances are, in this economy, there have been changes in personnel and structure. Reps wouldn’t know that unless they are keeping in touch with the customer. This will reinforce that the key to successfully up-selling or cross-selling is to focus on the customer’s needs. Can they help their clients solve their problems by selling them a higher-quality product or training package to go with the product? The most important thing is that reps learn to take their cues from the customer.”
– Renee Houston Zemanski
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