IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Secrets of Cross-Selling

Cross-selling is a cost-effective way to boost sales plus provide competitive advantage. By Carolyn Heinze

MOST SALES GURUS agree that selling something new to an existing client is one of the best ways to increase revenue––and it’s easier and less expensive than landing a new customer. What’s more, it should require less time investment on the part of salespeople because they’re already familiar with how that client operates. The question is: Are channel pros adhering to this wisdom?

“Most MSPs––organizations that I’ve worked with––attempt to improve their bottom line by hiring more salespeople and/or investing in more marketing, whether that be SEO or pay-per-click,” says Gil Cargill, founder and CEO of Cargill Consulting Group, a sales training consultancy based in Marina Del Rey, Calif. “They default to investing more, when they’re leaving money on the table with existing customers they already have.”

Cross-selling not only boosts sales but can provide competitive advantage. “It shows your prospect that you are different than [the competition], depending on how you bundle the offer,” Cargill says. “Failure to cross-sell is a guaranteed way to suppress your bottom line.”

Here are some ways to make cross-selling an asset to your business instead of a liability:

Identify Valuable Cross-Sell Opportunities

When suggesting additional products or services, salespeople must ensure that they’re proposing real value, Cargill advises. One example: In conjunction with a new software deployment, the MSP may propose data conversion services for an added fee. While this increases the price of the original sale, it’s also a valuable offering. After all, what small business customer wants the time-consuming task of converting their own data when they already have enough on their plate?

Gil Cargill

Cargill believes that services are a profitable cross-selling opportunity, because in general, the margin stands to be higher than selling hardware and software. This does not mean that salespeople should cross-sell services only, he emphasizes, but they should do the same for hardware and software only when they can offer real value, such as higher security levels, faster performance, or better patch management. “We have to always share that the cross-sell is delivering more value than the perceived cost,” he says.

Leverage the (Annual/Semi-Annual/Quarterly) Review

Quality business reviews, technology reviews, or whatever your firm calls them, are a great opportunity for cross-selling. During these annual, semi-annual, or quarterly meetings with the client, MSPs can gain insight into how their current offerings are performing, as well as what other products and services could benefit the client.

That’s why it’s important to go into these meeting prepared, stresses James Kernan, principal at Kernan Consulting, a business coaching firm based in Omaha, Neb. “Be aware, before you go into the meeting, of what professional services your clients are currently using and which ones they don’t, and if there’s a fit.”

Kernan encourages salespeople to create a spreadsheet beforehand: On the left side, list all your contractual clients; across the top, list all the services your firm offers. This provides a clear visual of who is using what service and potential cross-selling opportunities.

About the Author

CAROLYN HEINZE is a regular freelance contributor to ChannelPro-SMB.

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