Unlocking the vault: common sense cross-selling techniquesBlog added by Rick Burns on July 28, 2014
R Burns

Rick Burns


Joined: January 10, 2014

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The practice of cross-selling products and services is a well-established means of strengthening customer relationships and increased revenues. After all, if a customer has already purchased one product from your company, it just makes sense that they might consider others.

However, it’s important to be smart about cross-selling techniques to avoid unintentionally alienating your customer. Here are some tips for navigating the relationship and unlocking the potential in your customer base.

Understand that not every customer wants to buy multiple services.

Did you know that there are 29 different kinds of customer relationships in the marketplace? That’s what researchers Jill Avery, Susan Fournier, and John Wittenbraker found in the course of studying consumers and their interactions with company brands for their in-depth article, “Unlock the Mysteries of Your Customer Relationships” (Harvard Business Review, July/August 2014). They learned that customers run the gamut between "complete strangers" and "fleeting acquaintances" to "old friends," "marriage partners," and even "love-hate." So, not every customer is a great candidate for buying more of your services and helping you build market share. Instead, profile your customer relationships and make sure to understand each individual’s preferred ties with your company. You can then align your selling strategies accordingly.

Employ the art of meaningful questioning.

Salesforce.com blogger John Cousineau has studied the role of creativity and curiosity in the sales process. He found that assuming a listening and questioning role (versus delivering a sales pitch) enables customers’ true problems and issues to emerge and be viewed more easily and clearly. He advises stepping back, noticing what others miss, challenging assumptions, and using open and slightly provocative questions to create meaningful dialogue.

Keep in mind what your customers really want.

Customers usually are seeking a feeling or experience more than they’re buying an individual product or service. In the technology industry, for example, customers care more about the experience of being connected than they do the device that delivers the connectivity. The same lesson applies to any industry. What needs are your customers looking to meet, and how can your product work to fulfill those needs and expectations? If your client is really looking for peace of mind and security, for instance, then focus on delivering that experience.

Using a few common sense approaches to cross-selling should help you mine new opportunities from your customer base, while focusing your energies on those with the most potential.
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