How can your sales people cross-sell effectively? What does it take to ensure your reps sell more than the products of their own strategic business unit (SBU)? How can you ensure your sales staff act as representatives of your “entire” company? Well, you need to train them effectively. Here are a few tips to train your people effectively on cross-selling.
1. Provide good knowledge of your complete product portfolio
To cross-sell effectively, your reps need to know about all the products in your portfolio. They need not gain mastery over every product and its benefits, but be aware of what the product does, who uses it and the contact details of the person responsible for selling it. For example, a salesperson of an electronic equipment manufacturer who sells computer servers needs to know the basics of other offerings of his firm such as printers and the details of the person in-charge of selling them.
A major problem in training your reps on products sold by other divisions of your organization is the lack of motivation. Most sales people don’t bother to spend time to learn about products that don’t add to their commissions and prefer to use the time to sell their “own” products. One of our clients overcame this problem by providing incentives to its sales persons who provide a certain number of leads to other divisions. It is also a good idea to gamify the product sales training programs as it helps motivate your learners.
2. Help identify customer needs
You need to make sure the products you cross-sell meet the customers’ needs. Charles Gaudet, a marketing guru, believes that reps need to know how the cross-sell can satisfy the requirements of the customer better. For instance, a customer who is buying a computer game for his kid may not be interested in buying business software. Attempts to push “additional” products which do not meet the buyer’s needs prove futile and only serve to frustrate him.
The rep needs to be trained to actively listen to the customer to understand what he needs, so that he can provide the right solution. It is essential that your salesperson identify “cues” about the customer’s unmet needs when he interacts with the latter. You can impart these skills in a classroom very effectively. Sales coaches can mimic “real” cross-selling situations, and these go a long way in helping your people acquire the ability to “detect” the unfulfilled needs of the buyer.
3. Train your reps to get the timing of the cross-sell right
Timing is the key to effective cross-selling. Your reps need to know when to make a pitch for the cross-sell. Your sales people need to give priority to selling the “actual” product which meets the immediate need of the customer over making a cross-sell. Many good salespeople attempt to cross-sell at the end of the customer interaction, when they have good idea about the needs of the buyer. Some sales people try to cross-sell once they have provided a solution to the customer’s problem and gained their trust.
Staying on with classroom training, instructor-led training (ILT) sessions can go a long way in training your sales people on the timing aspect. “Simulations” of cross-selling situations can help your people know when to cross-sell. Classroom sessions are also useful to train sales reps gauge the mood of the customer. This is important because attempts to cross-sell when a buyer is frustrated often prove futile.
Good training plays a key role in enabling your reps to cross-sell effectively. You need to impart to your sales people basic knowledge of products sold by other divisions of your company. It is important to make sure that your sales folk are coached to identify the unmet needs of buyers and get the timing of their cross-selling initiatives right. Hope you find this post useful. Do share your views.