Cross Selling Success

By Lain Ehmann

The benefits of cross selling to your existing customers go beyond increased order size and higher revenue. Research shows that the more products and services customers purchase, the less likely they are to defect, says Harry Mills, chief executive of The Mills Group and author of The Rainmaker’s Toolkit: Power Strategies for Finding, Keeping, and Growing Profitable Clients (AMACOM, 2004).

Despite the numerous benefits, most sales forces have a tough time with the cross sell, due to turf issues, the existence of departmental or functional silos and lack of knowledge. Each of these issues, however, is surmountable. Here are Mills’ tips for successful cross selling.

  • Understand the three types of cross selling. When cross selling, says Mills, you can: 1) sell to an unrelated need; 2) sell sequentially upstream or downstream; or 3) sell an integrated solution.
  • Determine which you are trying to accomplish. Mills recommends looking at cross selling in areas that make sense, either because they’re related products or services or because the same person makes the buying decision about unrelated products. “If you’re going to get people to cross sell, get people to sell in areas with logical extensions,” he suggests.
  • Create a company cross selling strategy. When cross selling, salespeople have to package the sale with the cross sell in mind before they start out, says Mills, which means managers must have a strategy set in place for their reps. “Before they ask their people to do it, they’ve got to work out what they’re going to sell, how they’re going to sell it and what the incentives and commissions are going to be,” Mills says.
  • Give your team the tools they need for success. Before your reps meet with customers, they must have the necessary product and service knowledge. This requires cross-departmental efforts from managers to gather the information the reps’ will need and the development of product training, messaging, and role-playing opportunities to help salespeople cross sell successfully. “You’ve got to show people how they can actually frame the messages,” says Mills.
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