I don’t know of an organization that does not want its salespeople to cross-sell. The big question is why it is so difficult to successfully implement a cross-sell strategy, especially across divisions. Certainly product knowledge is a real issue and so is compensation – What’s in it for me? But more than that are the issues of risk and trust.
Many salespeople are afraid to “expose” their client to their colleagues. This could be based on their own bad experience, “what ifs”, or on internal horror stories where colleagues from other divisions have not delivered and have damaged relationships. Although confidence in your colleagues’ ability to deliver is paramount and even though many salespeople have been burned, allowing this to impede cross-selling is a tremendous loss for an organization. The return on cross-selling across the board — to the salesperson, the client, and the organization — is fantastic.
Everybody knows it is easier to sell to a current client than a prospect. Cross-selling increases the ties that bind and build loyalty. Cross-selling reduces vulnerability. The answer is to do it in a way in which the risks are minimized. A practical, organized approach to cross-selling is an answer: Start with the specialist. Begin to build internal relationships. Call them directly and if there are no specialists, contact other salespeople or research product knowledge resources. Ask the specialist: What questions shall I ask my client to see if there is a need? What are the qualifying criteria you need for a solid prospect? What key objectives should I expect? What is a sound bite and success story I can use to interest this client? What are the next steps or implementation steps to move this along? The knowledge you get won’t make you an expert, but you don’t have to be! However, you need at least this much information.
If a specialist or colleague suggests, “All you need to know is my name and phone number. Have the client call me,” empathize and make a second effort to get a little information to make the call worth everybody’s time. If the specialist or colleague persists in being difficult, talk to your manager. As any successful salesperson knows, it can be as challenging to sell internally as externally. If your organization is serious about cross-selling, it will have to make sales-oriented product information — not just technical details — available to you.
Certainly to close a sale you need more product knowledge than what is captured above. But the objective for cross-selling that most organizations define is to get the specialist or colleague from another division or product line in the door to leverage the current relationship. Be sure to update the specialist regarding the outcome of your cross-sell discussion and share credit publicly to help build internal relationships. With a proactive approach to cross-selling and with an attitude of collaboration, everybody wins!
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