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Cross Selling Tips to Follow & Traps to Avoid

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Companies want their reps to know how to cross-sell more to their existing customer base.  For many sales reps, the thought of selling that one little extra or next big thing is very enticing.  Your quota went up 10% this year, great!  Just cross-sell a little bit more and you’ll be fine, right?  If it were only that easy!

We started building out our list of why reps struggle to cross-sell. Please let us know if you have any to add.  These cross-selling tips should help you get started mastering the art of the cross-sell!

Cross Selling Tips to Avoid Common Traps

  1. Too much planning and too little execution.  You confuse cross-selling with strategic account management and spend too much time building an elaborate plan that you can’t execute.
  2. Account managers are too risk averse. They don’t want to disrupt a sound relationship by introducing concepts, solutions, or people that they don’t fully trust.
  3. Misaligned compensation and incentives. The reward for cross-selling and doing the right thing for the customer does not outweigh the risk of maintaining the status quo.
  4. Too many products, too little product knowledge. Your reps have access to dozens (or more) products, too many to possibly learn, and fall back into selling what they know.
  5. Reps have the will, but not the skill. Despite their desire to cross-sell, the rep doesn’t know how to position the new product and loses credibility with the customer.
  6. Too little intelligence to select the right product. The rep doesn’t have enough information to make an informed choice to select a product that makes sense for the customer. The sale feels forced.
  7. Poor understanding of how products fit into an integrated solution. Building on the previous point, reps may know something about a product, but they are unsure how different products fit together into a solution. Additionally, they have no idea how to design, implement, or support the solution.
  8. Lack of a “win-win” mindset.  The rep is so determined to cross-sell that next product that they lose sight of why the customer will benefit and why they will buy from the rep.
  9. Value proposition is unclear or not compelling. The rep cannot create a strong enough business case for the customer to move forward, or the proposal is not aligned with the customer’s goals.
  10. Difficulty working with product and subject matter experts.  Subject matter experts are often wired a bit differently than sales reps and, in the absence of a personal or working relationship, may be difficult for your reps to trust.
  11. Insufficient political juice to marshal necessary resources. The rep wants to do all the right things and bring together all of the right people, but just can’t rally the support needed for his/her effort.
  12. Lack of common language or process. The rep manages to rally all of the right subject matter experts but the process feels disjointed and everyone ends up fighting for shelf space.
  13. The rep is a bad fit for the customer. The rep may have too little experience or the wrong experience, and can’t build enough credibility with the customer to sell more.
  14. Heavily entrenched competition. Your rep has the perfect solution for the customer but expanding the solution creates a potential conflict with another provider.
  15. “Do Nothing” is still your biggest competitor. Sad but true. Your rep doesn’t make a strong enough case for change or create a sense of urgency to reprioritize your solution.
Remember, cross-selling is about working together with the customer to develop the best solution to solve a problem or unlock an opportunity.   A bad sales experience can make you feel used or abused, but a good sale can feel like you’ve been done a great service.   In fact, when you get great service and feel like you got exactly the right solution—you normally come back for more because it was a great experience. The cross-selling tips listed above should help you get started utilizing cross-selling to delight your clients.

What other cross-selling tips would you add to our list?

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