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Stop Ignoring the Opportunities for Cross-Selling and Upselling

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Sales and marketing professionals primarily focused on new customer acquisition may be overlooking one important area of sales potential: cross-selling and upselling to existing customers.

In Kevin Temple's experience working with tech companies, the president and founder of Enterprise Selling Group sees a huge opportunity for growth through cross-selling but also sees salespeople missing potential sales by ignoring possibly lucrative add-on products.

"Everyone gets focused on that flagship product, when in fact all the growth could be coming from all these other products that they've created or added or acquired," Temple says. "It happens all over the place."

Learning to cross-sell your product line better increases your company's revenue—and adds value to your relationship with the customer. The more value your customers get out of your relationship, the more likely they are to be loyal.

And because it takes more effort and resources to acquire a new customer than to retain a loyal one, the return on investment you get from cross-selling and upselling is tangible.


How cross-selling adds value

Cross-selling your product line isn't about tacking on extras that your customers don't want in the first place. Nor is it about selling them a more expensive solution when it's more than what they need.

Instead, cross-selling is about getting to know your customers' business so well that you're able to help them solve problems in unexpected ways. To do that, a salesperson needs to communicate with the customer.

Ian Dainty, CEO of Maximize Business Marketing, frequently sees this missed opportunity. "A lot of times what happens is that people spend a lot of money to get a new client and get them up and running, then the only time they'll ever talk to them again is to send them an invoice," Dainty says. "More than anything, you need to keep in contact with your customers."

That can take the form of anything, including a regular value-packed newsletter or a quarterly business strategy session with your bigger clients. This also gives you a chance to cross pollinate ideas among customers. If you learn that one customer is using your product in interesting ways, you can share that with your other customers to increase your product's value.

This also helps keep your company's value top of mind. "A lot of times, clients don't understand what your benefit is," Dainty says. "Or if it's been two years since they bought your product, they may have forgotten. And they always have competitors knocking on the door."

Don't just assume everything is fine if you're not hearing anything from your accounts. They may be having a problem with your products, but they're too busy to call the service desk. "It's up to the vendor to become a partner with their accounts," Dainty says. "If you sit back and wait for your customer to call, it may be too late."

How adding value sets your company apart

With other solutions competing with yours, it's crucial to communicate the value of working with your company.

By effectively demonstrating the value that your customers get your flagship product and the add-on products, you're cross-selling, you can make a strong case for why it's worth working with your company.

To demonstrate that, Temple recommends really homing in on the problem you sell for your customer, rather than giving them a laundry list of product specifications.

"If you pick the right problem, you're teeing up your differentiation at the same time," Temple states. "If I pick a problem that nobody else can solve and I get a customer excited about it, now I've established a really strong foundation for differentiating myself when they look at other competitors."

How to get cross-selling right

Most companies don't equip their teams with the tools they need to cross-sell new products.

"Most companies don't introduce new products to their sales teams effectively," suggests Dainty. "They try to make them an expert on the product, but that doesn't really help you sell the products. The thing you want is to become an expert in the customer's problem. That's how you get their attention."

Becoming an expert on your customers' problems allows you to fine-tune the services and solutions you try to sell them, and to do so in a way that customers perceive as valuable rather than pushy. It also gives you a better understanding of which approach to take with which clients.

Dainty recommended categorizing accounts into "more strategic" and "less strategic." With your most strategic accounts, you may want to hold regular strategy sessions with the CEO to help their business grow.

With less strategic accounts, a regular newsletter or occasional group session to introduce new features and talk about the product may be helpful.

Whichever way you choose to keep creating value in that relationship, the important thing is that you continue to do so regularly.

"Communicate, communicate, communicate," Dainty states. "If you're not keeping in touch with clients, the competition is phoning them up to tell them that they're better."

* * *

Ultimately, investing in the growth of your customers—big and small—will increase your company's revenue and help your customers grow.

If you've demonstrated your company's value as your customer grows, you'll see that return in loyalty.


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Brad Zomick is content marketing director at Pipedrive, a sales tool for small teams with big ambitions.

LinkedIn: Brad Zomick 

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