How to Improve Your Ability to Cross-Sell Your Clients

Your company sells several different solutions, all of which create value for your clients based on their needs and the outcomes they believe are essential. Different salespeople within your company sell different solutions, and as much as you support each other, you also compete for your client’s time, attention, and money. You have been asked to cross-sell to improve your sales, create better outcomes for your clients, and block your competitors for gaining a foothold in your clients.

Here is how to improve your ability to cross-sell your clients.

Creating the Right New Value

If there is a single key to retention, it is the creation of new value. Resting on your laurels leads to apathy, complacency, entitlement, neglect, and, eventually, lost clients. Quarter after quarter and year after year, you have to provide your clients with something that creates higher value, some improvement, some novelty.

The best way to look at cross-selling is to focus on the value creation for your clients. But not just any unique value, the actual new value. The mindset here is one of continuous improvement, constantly working to improve your client’s position and their outcomes by providing them with new ideas and new solutions.

Your focus on creating the right new value adjusts the self-oriented idea of cross-selling to the other-oriented notion of creating new value. If you are an account executive, your role and responsibility to your clients require you to help them produce the best possible results, requiring you to bring them what comes next. So what happens next?

Suggesting a Maturity Model

The maturity model is an important concept to explore when you have many solutions, all of which create value for your clients in different ways. The idea of a maturity model is simple. You start with the idea that your client adopts a solution that starts them on their way to creating better results, something we’ll call Good Enough. The next solution they choose extends their competency and their effects on something you might call “Competitive.” Now they have two of your solutions.

After some time, you install your third solution, moving your client’s maturity level to Best in Class, with the combined value of your three solutions far exceeding the value of each individually. Maybe you have one more solution that, if adopted, would provide your client with a maturity level of “Bleeding Edge,” giving them a distinct advantage in their market.

Working your client through the maturity model might require three solutions, or it might include nine different offerings. The model provides you with a plan for what comes next, how it multiplies your client’s results and provides you with a plan for introducing the next solution. If you are going to cross-sell, having a structured approach will improve your results.

Providing a Roadmap to the Future

Technology companies have a development roadmap. In meetings, they often show their clients what functionality they have available, what they are developing now, and what they intend to build over some relatively long period, say, three years into the future.

If you want to improve your ability to bring in new solutions over time, you can start very early in the process, showing your clients what their roadmap might look like in the end. Starting with your first quarterly business review, you can introduce the idea that once you stand up for the first solution, your client will be capable of adding the solution that you believe comes next.

The roadmap is a theory, and if you are close to your client, you should have excellent working hypotheses about what they need next—or what they want. Your roadmap for your client is something you can use to collaborate with your client, adjusting it based on their needs, what they are capable of executing, and what’s most important.

One of You Is Leading

If you sell for a company with many solutions, you should adopt the idea that either you are leading your client to better results by creating new value, or your competitor is probing for opportunities, gaining a foothold in your client account. Either you are going to bring them new solutions and help them with the results they need, or you are allowing some potential need to go unaddressed, an invitation for your contacts to engage with a salesperson from your competition.

Either you land and expand, crowding out any need for your competitor, or they will land some seemingly small opportunity, using that as a jumping-off point for an eventual competitive displacement, meaning they eat your lunch.Win customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their LunchEat Their Lunch

Cross-selling may be the term we use in sales to talk about selling new solutions to our existing clients, but it doesn’t tell you much about the reasons you might introduce new value, and it says even less about retention and growth. Because this is true, many (maybe most) sales organizations don’t view cross-selling (or what I would call “the creation of new value” as the strategic imperative that it is for those of us who live in the red ocean.



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