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Three Principles of Cross-Selling or Up-Selling By Bryan Flanagan


Earlier this year, one of my clients conducted a customer satisfaction survey. The number one response was, “I want a knowledgeable salesperson helping me.” I asked my client how she was interpreting that response. She said that she thought it meant that more training was needed in the area of product knowledge.

I suggested that she study the surveys a bit more. The reason for this suggestion is that most salespeople can learn product knowledge on their own by studying and/or using the products. They can read a user’s manual. They can observe other salespeople selling the product or service. In other words, salespeople can learn product knowledge by themselves.

Most salespeople don’t need more product knowledge.

What most salespeople need is more knowledge about the prospect and his or her needs, issues, and challenges. If the salesperson took the time to uncover the true concerns of the prospect, he or she would know what features of the product to demonstrate. He or she could then communicate the value, advantages, and benefits that would most serve the prospect’s needs and solve his or her problems.

Salespeople who live off the “low hanging fruit” never seem to develop the skills necessary to uncover the true concerns of the prospect. These individuals aren’t skilled in identifying the specific needs of the prospect. These types of sales individuals just take the easy sales (hence, the low hanging fruit) and move on to the next tree.

You can make a sale that way but you can’t build a profession that way. You must learn to probe for needs so that you can truly serve your prospects. You must learn to climb the tree so that you can satisfy more of the prospect’s needs. Once you have acquired those skills, you can better sell more of your products and services to meet more of the prospect’s needs.

This is referred to as “cross-selling” and/or “up-selling.” It is also referred to as “selling deep.” That is, selling deeply into the prospect’s true needs and wants. Yes, you have to meet their recognized needs, but you should also attempt to determine the deeper needs that the prospect may have. Oftentimes, the prospect has a need but has not yet realize it is a true need.

Let’s illustrate this with a health care industry example. A patient has an appointment with his physician. It’s his annual check-up. All the patient wants is a physical exam so he can get on with his day. The doctor asks a few probing questions and determines that there may be some concerns. The doctor then “goes deep” into the family history, recent illnesses, etc. Instead of just a visit, the doctor suggests a full work-up including stress test, blood work, and EKG. By going “deep” the doctor is better serving his patient’s needs.

You can use this in any industry. Retail salespeople understand this concept. A man walks into a clothing store searching for a tie. Some sales people would just sell the tie or attempt to sell additional ties. However, the experienced sales professional will sell deep by asking and listening, linking benefits to needs, and seeing the buyer’s side of things. The customer leaves with a new suit. Why? Because the sales professional asked enough questions to determine the true needs, issues, and challenges to “up-sell” the customer.

Another example: A husband and wife need financial protection because they have just delivered their first child. A true sales professional will ask about all the financial needs of the couple. Insurance, disability, and college funds may be discussed because the salesperson probed for present day needs as well as future financial needs.

Here are three principles on cross-selling and up-selling. Remember, these principles only work if you do!

1. Ask and listen. In its simplest form, selling is nothing more than asking and listening. Yes, it is not any more complicated than that. Keep it simple. Learn to take the attention off yourself and focus it where it belongs — on the prospect. In order to determine additional needs, you must learn to be a skilled questioner. These questions should be high-gain and high-impact questions. That is, they should solicit the real needs of the prospect. You could ask, “If you could receive more productivity at a lower cost, would you buy from me?” However, a more powerful question is, “If you could receive more productivity at a lower cost, what is the benefit to you?” This second question will allow you to drill down deeper into the needs of the prospect. Perhaps there are additional needs that the prospect has not voiced to you yet. This question may identify the real benefits that the prospect is seeking.

2. Link your products and services to the prospect’s challenges. This takes work. It also requires discipline. It is easy to move into your own “comfort zone” without any regard for the prospect’s “buying zone.” In order to move out of your comfort zone you must really focus on the needs of the prospect. You achieve this by asking the right questions to determine the deeper needs. You then communicate your solutions by linking to his or her personal benefits.

By making your prospect’s life easier, increasing his or her personal effectiveness, and/or providing a path for individual recognition, you are linking to personal benefits. By doing so, you have a better chance of “up-selling” this prospect. Remember, your prospects desire what your products and services will do for them. They aren’t concerned about what your products do unless you can link what your products accomplish for him or her.

3. Use the P-P-O-V Formula. This stands for “Prospect’s Point Of View.” In order to be successful in selling deep, you must focus on the other person and on his or her needs. By asking the right questions and by linking your solutions to his or her benefits, you have a better chance of understanding the PPOV. Don’t hesitate to ask “hard questions.” These may include questions such as:

“Once that need is met, what needs will you have in the future?”

“In addition to that concern, what other challenges are you facing?”

“What steps are in place for you to reach your future goals?”

It may be uncomfortable for you to ask those questions. However, the information you receive from those questions will allow you to better “cross-sell” or “up-sell” to the prospect’s needs.

Well, there you have it: three specific principles to assist you in selling deeper into the prospect’s needs. Remember, these principles only work if you do.

Now, go sell somebody something!
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Bryan Flanagan is a nationally renowned speaker, author and sales trainer. A performance consultant and coach for dozens of corporations, Bryan knows and communicates the techniques that help people become better performers! Visit him at www.FlanaganTraining.com.

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