July 2013 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Disruptive Selling: How Can It Work For You by Mark Hunter "The Sales Hunter" >>
  • Right Questions Help On Fact-Finding Calls by Roy Chitwood, CSP, CSE >>
  • Removing the Sludge from your Sales Funnel by Brian Jeffrey >>
  • Avoiding the Dreaded Discount Request by Michael Nick >>
  • Avoid the Stupid Sales Questions by Art Sobczak >>
  • Three Questions You Must Ask in the Sales Discovery Process by Michael Nick >>
  • The Most Under-Utilized Selling Technique - Are You Guilty? by Jim Domanski >>

Disruptive Selling: How Can It Work For You
by Mark Hunter
"The Sales Hunter"

One of the new marketing trends is “disruptive selling.” This is defined as any marketing strategy that is bold enough, unique enough or out of the ordinary enough to create buzz and, consequently, sales. It could be marketing that runs counter to the time of year when competitors are running campaigns or that runs in the opposite direction of other campaigns, such as Dove’s True Beauty Campaign.

This counter motion results in greater effectiveness and far less cost in terms of time and money.

Launching a successful disruptive marketing or sales program usually follows four basic steps. The first step is to throw out pre-conceived ideas you may have about what would make for a good marketing program. The second step is to set a huge goal — for example, the number of people you want to reach and the amount of sales you want to make. The third step is to look at other industries and companies of all sizes and types and consider what they’ve done from a sales and marketing perspective. The last step is to identify a period of time when your competition is not typically doing any sales or marketing.

What you ultimately decide to do must be attacked with reckless abandon. Too often, great sales campaigns are developed only to be abandoned prematurely because the campaign lacked a sturdy backbone. Once you start a disruptive campaign, don’t back off. Keep running the campaign and expect positive direct and indirect results to accrue.

In fact, the greatest return on investment is usually found in the indirect results of a campaign that emerged without your anticipation. To find good examples of this kind of indirect result, you can look to companies such as Nike, Starbucks, Fox Television, GEICO, or Aflac, to name only a few. Each of these companies has used disruptive marketing or sales techniques to stand out and therefore be noticed.

For several of these companies, the disruptive marketing was out of necessity, because they couldn’t afford to implement “normal” marketing programs; but in the end, these disruptive campaigns were far more successful than if the companies had followed the norm.

Remember, the underlying sales principle of disruptive selling is that success in sales comes not to those who do things the way everyone else does but rather are willing to step out and do things differently.

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.” He is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects and close more profitable sales. To get a free weekly sales tip, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com. Read the first chapter of his instant-classic “High-Profit Selling” here.

Copyright MMX.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.



Right Questions Help On Fact-Finding Calls
by Roy Chitwood, CSP, CSE

In a recent column, we reviewed the art of asking questions. We learned how important it was not to ask closed-ended questions where the prospect only has to answer yes or no. Closed-ended questions create an atmosphere where the conversation begins to sound like an interrogation. Instead, we learned that we should be asking open-ended questions that allow the prospect to elaborate on his or her answers.

Open-ended questions also allow us to gather more information as to our prospect's needs and wants. The prospect's response also delivers new information on which to base our next question.

Above all, people prefer talking to listening, and the more you listen, the better your prospects will like you. And prospects buy products from people they like.

Sir Laurence Olivier once advised: "You have to have the humility to prepare and the self-confidence to bring it off." Likewise, the best salespeople in the business prepare a list of standard qualification questions to be used in every sales call.

Being prepared also means that in addition to the standard queries, they are prepared with specific questions that relate to the prospect being called upon.

Your goal on any sales call is to gather information that will allow you to help a prospect fill a need or solve a problem. You need to gather accurate background information that will allow you to offer effective solutions.

Along with the basic facts you need to uncover your prospect's attitudes and opinions - the kinds of things that are important to him. In order to gather this important information you must ascertain basic, concrete facts that allow you to qualify the prospect and then direct your presentation to fit the particular needs of the prospect.

These are called fact-finding questions. They should be simple and easy to answer. They should keep the prospect relaxed and not give the prospect the impression that they are being grilled for information. Some examples are:

  • "Who else will be involved in this buying decision?"
  • "How will this product (or service) be used?"
  • "What product (or service) do you currently use?"

Facts alone are generally not enough. You also need to uncover the prospect's attitudes and opinions, his or her unspoken feelings. You need to uncover their emotions and motivations for buying your product or service.

To find out this important information you have to ask open-ended feeling-finding questions such as:

  • "How do you feel about that?"
  • "Why is that important to you?"
  • "What is your opinion on that change?"

Think specifically about the product or service you sell. Try to think of specific feeling-finding questions you can ask to uncover your prospect,s feelings, attitudes and opinions.

It is a common tendency among sales people first learning to ask open-ended questions to ask open-ended questions followed immediately with closed-ended ones. The prospect will most likely answer to the second question and the answer will be the undesirable yes or no, or at best a brief response:

Salesperson: "What did you think of that? Wasn't it a good idea?"

Prospect: "Yes, I guess."

If you examine the salesperson's question you may have noticed something else amiss here. The salesperson has, in effect, answered his own question, leaving the prospect with really little to say.

This sends a very bad message to the prospect that, in fact, the salesperson does not really have much interest in the prospect’s actual response. Watch out for this common mistake and teach yourself to avoid it.

One thing that you can do to stop yourself from this tendency is to pause after your open-ended question and look at your prospect, waiting for a response. This is called the Friendly, Silent, Questioning Stare, or FSQS. My friend Jack Berman of Berman Publications developed it. Here is how it works:

After asking your prospect a good open-ended question, stop, remain silent and look at your prospect with warmth and genuine interest. This look is friendly as you care about that person. It is silent as you are waiting for the person to respond. Your look is questioning as you are wondering what is on his or her mind.

An additional technique is called the reflective question. By repeating a few key words from the speaker’s last statement you encourage the prospect to continue to talk on the same subject.

Prospect: "I played golf every Sunday until I broke my rib."

Salesperson: "Broke your rib?"

Prospect: "I have wasted my entire week getting records in order for the tax audit."

Salesperson: "Tax audit?"

The prospect will sense that you are interested in what he or she has to say and will continue to talk on the same subject, filling in with even more detail. Just make sure you use this technique sparingly or you will sound like an echo.

There is one kind of question that is manipulative. It is called a directive question where the salesperson directs the prospect to the desired answer:

Salesperson: "If I can show you how you can save money and time, that would interest you, wouldn’t it?"

Prospect: "I guess so."

I suggest you turn this kind of question into a closed-ended, feeling-finding question instead:

Salesperson: "If I can show you how you can save time and money, would that interest you?"

Prospect: ‘Yes, that would interest me."

Even with this minor change your prospect will only have a brief yes or no answer.

These techniques for drawing people out and encouraging them to talk about themselves can be an invaluable, social asset. Practice these techniques around your co-workers or around your dinner table. The more you practice the smoother and more comfortable these techniques will be for you.

Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.


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Removing the Sludge from your Sales Funnel
by Brian Jeffrey

Most salespeople understand the concept of the sales funnel. It works just like an ordinary funnel that you might use to transfer liquid from one container to another. We all know that if you stop pouring the liquid into the top of the funnel, fluid stops coming out the bottom. We also know that if you try to pour too much in at one time, the funnel overflows and you lose some of it. You’ll also lose liquid if the funnel leaks. If you have blockages in your funnel, the flow may stop or back up, causing an overflow situation.

So how does this work for sales? Simple. If you stop putting potential sales opportunities into the top of the funnel, closed sales stop coming out of the bottom.

If you try to put too many sales opportunities in at the same time, the sales funnel overflows and you lose some potential sales. This can happen after a trade show where you simply have too many leads to follow up in a timely manner.

You’ll also lose sales if your sales funnel leaks. Leaks are simply lost sales that probably weren’t going to happen in the first place.

A blockage in your sales funnel could be something as simple as the inability to get a proposal or quote out in a timely manner, the inability to deliver by a specific date, or indecision on the part of someone in your organization.

Clogging Up the Funnel
By far the most common blockage that clogs up the sales funnel is an overabundance of non-sales opportunities that are eating up the salesperson’s time. It’s this problem we want to explore in more detail and provide a quick-and-easy solution to removing or minimizing this blockage.

Why Blockages Occurs
A lot of salespeople feel they are doing their job if they keep their sales funnel full to capacity. Not true. Your job as a sales professional is to not just keep your sales funnel full, but to keep it full of “real” opportunities and not “wished/hoped-for” sales.

Overly optimistic salespeople will dump almost any potential opportunity into their sales funnel just as long as the prospect is breathing. Just because someone is breathing doesn’t mean they’re a live prospect; it just means they’re alive period! Unfortunately, your sales funnel can get clogged up with too many non, or poor, opportunities and you spend your time spinning your sales wheels instead of focusing on business that you can close in a timely manner.

One way to minimize the sludge is to make sure that it doesn’t get into the funnel in the first place. It’s important to properly qualify the opportunity during the Probe part of the sales process. Sharp salespeople not only take the time to properly qualify opportunities but they take pains to disqualify those opportunities that can result in wasting their valuable selling time.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
Even the most efficient salespeople will find their sales funnel getting filled with sales sludge from time to time. You need to review what’s in the funnel and take the time to separate the good opportunities from the bad and clean it up so the funnel is flowing effectively again.

How often you decide to clean out your funnel will depend upon how many new or potential opportunities are added each month. As a minimum, you should probably be cleaning up your funnel once a quarter, or even monthly, if you’re doing the type of selling that generates a lot of potential opportunities.

Sludge Cleaner
Here is a relatively simple tool that will help you decide whether an opportunity is worth keeping in the funnel or not, and if it is worth keeping, what priority you should assign to it. This method allows you to quickly assign a percent chance of closing the sale to each of your opportunities. Once you’ve assigned a percent chance of getting the sale to your opportunities, all you have to do is rank them in order to determine which opportunities you should be working on and which one you should let die a natural death.

All you need to do is look at each of your opportunities and check off the questions in four categories — price information, degree of urgency, funds approval, and competitive edge. These criteria can also be input into a CRM program like Salesforce.com for a straightforward lead scoring system, so that it can automatically update and calculate the quality of the leads in your pipeline.

Price Information

  • 10% Prospect has written quote or price information.
  • 5% Prospect has verbal quote or informal pricing information.
  • 0% Not quoted as yet.

Degree of Urgency

  • 30% High degree of urgency. Prospect must buy something now.
  • 20% Medium degree of urgency. Prospect should buy something now.
  • 10% Some degree of urgency. Prospect may decide to buy now.
  • 0% No or low degree of urgency. Prospect doesn’t need to buy now.

Funds Approval

  • 30% Opportunity funded to or above our price.
  • 20% High probability of funds approval.
  • 10% Good probability of obtaining funds.
  • 0% Funds not yet available and/or approved.

Competitive Edge

  • 20% Sole source, no other competitors being considered.
  • 10% Good rapport, preferred or favoured vendor.
  • 5% Competitors still being seriously considered. Who & why?
  • 0% Sale possible only with difficulty. Why?

You’ll note that, at best, you can only have a 90 percent chance of getting the business. That’s because a sale isn’t 100 percent until the product/service has been delivered, installed, completed, paid for, etc, and you’ve done a follow up to ensure the customer is satisfied.

Make It Work for You
Of course this system isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problem of sludge removal but it can be changed and modified to fit most sales situations. Take the time to make it fit yours and keep the sales flowing.

Both you and your sales manager will be delighted you did.

Authored by Brian Jeffrey, co-founder of SalesForce Training.
SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, helping sales people clean the sludge out of their sales funnels.

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Avoiding the Dreaded Discount Request
by Michael Nick

Asking for a discount is almost expected in many industries. To get around the issue many companies have padded their deals with additional fees. Car dealers charge you a “destination” fee or “Dealer Prep” fee.

hen you order something online they charge a "handling" fee. These are just ways of padding their profit.
In other industries they use Buyers to do their dirty work and yet others are just tough negotiators. One lesson I learned early in my sales career (like a hundred years ago now) is this. If you can’t walk away you lose. It is that simple, if you are unable to say no, then you will likely give away the farm.

However, here are some tips where good discovery techniques will help you reduce your discounting and improve your profitability.

  •  Identify your prospects issues, pains and goals
  • Capture and calculate their current cost or potential loss of revenue
  • Get agreement on extrapolating the costs over 3,4 or 5 years
  •  Demonstrate your value and measure the impact – (Be sure your prospect agrees)
  •  Develop a Business Case displaying the issue, current cost, on-going cost and estimated value of your solution.
  •  Provide graphics and ratios displaying the economic impact

The bottom line is this. When you present a Business Case that details the current and on-going cost of a prospects issues, pains and goals, alongside the value of your solution (assuming the value delivers sufficient return), then the topic of a discount will not come up in the discussion. I had a client once that displayed returns of upwards toward 5000% and they would say to their prospect, “you agreed that the return is 5000% why would we need to discount?”

Building a relationship with a prospect during discovery will help you ensure they understand and agree on the cost and value expected for the transaction. You of course need to prove you can deliver and then of course deliver the value promised. 

About The Author:

Michael Nick is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of value estimation selling. Michael’s first book, ROI Selling (Dearborn Publishing ©2004) was a business best seller. In 2010, Simon & Schuster picked up the reprint rights giving ROI Selling another five years of availability in the market.

Over the past 13 years Michael has worked with Companies like, HP, Autodesk, Fiserv, Ingersol Rand, Trane, NEC, Checkfree, Bomgar, Rockwell Automation, Oracle, Great Plains,and more.

Visit him at: http://www.roi4sales.com

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Avoid the Stupid Sales Questions
by Art Sobczak


Once again I've got a sales observation for you from the street. The street is Broadway. Times Square. New York City.

Times Square is a sales scientist's Disneyland. Somewhat similar to the beaches in Mexico, which I've written about several times, Here, pretty much anything that you want can be bought, or, uh, rented, up and down Broadway...products, food, services, events, and even humans.

You have the street vendors, set up on their makeshift tables and rolling carts, the closet-sized shops, the huge international brand stores like Gap, and others, all lit up by blocks and blocks of five-story tall animated HDTV screens.

Every day is like you see on TV on New Year's Eve when they drop the ball, just with fewer bodies. But there still are thousands milling about at all hours.

Some of those people on the sidewalks are the ones I was most interested in. You can't step more than a few feet without someone stuffing some type of promotion in your hands: bus and boat tours, reduced-price theater tickets, adult attractions, and more.

Then they try to engage you in a conversation to sell you on their event.

One guy with a handful of coupons for a comedy club had an approach, that, at first I thought was brilliant. Then I realized it was not good at all. It caused resistance.

He would make eye contact with people, smile, and then say, "You like to watch comedy, don't you?"

I thought, "Wow, what a great question! Everyone but the biggest dorks like comedy. Of course people have to say YES."

Thoughts raced through my mind of writing a Tip about asking questions that people must answer the way you want, since there really isn't any other logical answer.

But, as I stopped and observed--and apparently I was clogging up foot-traffic in tourist-like fashion, evidenced by the number of times I was called various names for body parts--it struck me that this was not a good question or method at all to engage people in this situation.

Some passersby ignored him. He'd yell, "It's OK to say yes!"

Others said yes, but then kept walking, trying to avoid eye contact or conversation. Others would decline in a smart-ass way, saying something like they were allergic to comedy (Ironically proving it by their lame attempt to perform it).

Resistance to Being Sold
I realized that this question actually caused a natural reaction: resistance to being sold.

We all possess it. As so many of us teaching this stuff say, everyone likes to buy, but no one likes to be sold.

So, when faced with a situation where we feel that we're about to be pitched, and are not in a frame of mind where we are looking for something, the natural defense shield rises.

When I went to the endodontist yesterday with tooth pain, I WANTED his recommendation and was ready to buy. I did. I bought a root canal on the spot. In and out in 90 minutes and $1500 lighter.

When I was walking through the shopping mall last week I dodged the woman in the kiosk who tried to grab me and pitch some hand creme that was selling for just a few bucks. In the first situation I was buying, in the other I was being sold.

Anyway, this got me thinking about the concept of what I call "Are you stupid?" sales questions and statements.

These are similar to the comedy-guy's question, in that it forces a person to answer the way the questioner wants, otherwise it makes the person feel stupid if he does not respond in that way. And, of course, that is not conducive to selling, instead putting the person on the defensive.

There are many variations. You've probably heard, and maybe have been taught some. And they all should be avoided.

For example,

Stupid Question: "Of course you want to save money, don't you?"

What is really heard:
"Of course you don't want to be stupid, do you?"

Stupid Question: "If I could show you a way to save money, of course you'd want that, wouldn't you?"

What is really heard:
"If I could show you a way to avoid being stupid, of course you'd want that, wouldn't you?"

Stupid Question: "What, don't you want to save money?"

What is really heard:
"Are you stupid?"

Stupid Question: "You like to save money, right?"

What is really heard: "You like not being stupid, right?"

Stupid Question:
"How important is money to you?"

What is really heard:
"How important is it to you to not be stupid?"

Stupid Question: "Now I know you're a person who wants to save money, right?"

What is really heard:
"Now I know you're a person who's not stupid, right?"

I could go on and on. You might remember one I mentioned in a previous Tip. While picking up some books at Barnes & Noble, the clerk asked if I wanted their discount frequent buyer card, and I declined.

He then said, "What, don't you like to save money?"

What I really heard:

"What, don't you like not being stupid?"

The main point here is that using stupid questions is, well, stupid.

What to Do?
What to do instead? Go back and look at how these stupid questions are used. Come up with alternatives to accomplish your goal.

For example, if we're trying to point out someone will save money, we need a series of questions to help us, and them, see the problem, the costs of the problem, and the result of the solution. This Tip already long, and I could go on and on, but instead, here's a blog post with more on questioning http://smartcalling.com/dumb-questions-get-dumb-answers/, and here is a list of past posts on effective questioning http://smartcalling.com/category/questioning/).

Because, of course you don't want to use stupid questions, do you? (Oooopps! There's one!)

Go and make this your best week ever!

About the Author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing "rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities. Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.


Contact Info
Art Sobczak
Business By Phone Inc.
13254 Stevens St.
Omaha, NE, 68137

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Three Questions You Must Ask in the Sales Discovery Process
by Michael Nick

There are three questions that every sales call must include. Each question establishes a foundation to help determine your odds of winning the opportunity. The ability to ask good questions is a skill that anyone can learn. The key however is to ask the right questions, to the right person, at the right time. Putting this aside, here are the three most important questions to ask during discovery.

I assume you have qualified your prospect. If not, then you need to be sure they are qualified. If you have qualified them, then here is your first question: Ask your prospect about an issue, pain or potential goal they may have that you are sure you have the best resolution for. Let me be clearer: Rather than ask an open ended question like: “What is your issue pain or goal?”  Your first question must be specific to an issue you resolve and know the prospect must be experiencing. For example, if I were to perform discovery with a prospect for ROI Selling my first question is this: Do you feel your team is discounting too much?

My question describes a very common problem for our prospects. Most VP of Sales experience this issue, and are typically incentivized for improving their gross margin.  It is also an issue ROI4Sales can help resolve. That being said, you need to develop a series of “first” questions that have these two key attributes: 1. the question needs to be an issue you know your prospect has and, 2. you have a (the best) resolution that can reduce a cost or improve their revenues for the problem.

Creating discovery questions is more than just identifying a series of issues you may resolve. The key is to ask questions that you resolve better than your competition. Once you have a comprehensive list of questions that are used to identify key issues a qualified prospect is experiencing, and you resolve better than the competition, you have established yourself as an expert and put yourself in the lead position in the deal. Your questions should help inform and educate your buyer.

Think about it like this: You have established your prospect has an issue, pain, or goal and you can resolve it better than anyone else. This first question (or set of issue identification questions) needs to be pre-planned, practiced and delivered like a professional. You will be judged on both the quality and deliver of the discovery questions. Your knowledge and professionalism will shine through when performing discovery.

Discovery Goes Beyond the Issue
The second question you will want to ask is one that freezes the current situation and determines the current cost of status-quo. Current cost includes not only the real cost of an issue, but the potential revenue losses your prospect is experiencing because of the issue, pain, or goal. Remember your question is used to stop time and measure the cost of the situation or losses of revenue because of the situation identified in the first question.

For example, when I asked the question, “Are you losing revenue from too much discounting?” I am able to measure the current situation by asking a couple of additional simple questions like these: 1. what is your annual revenue? 2. What is the average discount given?  With these two questions I am able to calculate the current annual revenue losses due to discounting.  

I can further my credibility by asking an additional question about revenue losses in the past. For example, what were your discount rate and annual revenues last year and or the year before that? I then use this new information to forecast their future losses from discounting.

The second question in discovery needs to capture the current and potential future cost or revenue losses from your issue, pain or goal. This will help you with the third and most important question; “What is your threshold for pain?”

Let me explain. Even though your prospect has issues, pains and goals, and they understand there is a cost or revenue loss from these issues, pains and goals, there are acceptable limits to their losses. In other words, they can live with some of the revenue they are losing from discounting. Therefore you need to have the very frank discussion on what is their tipping point? How much loss is acceptable? At what point are they going to make a change in the way they are doing business to reduce their cost or revenue losses?

Life Imitates the Buyers’ Process
When you feel pain from a headache, backache or sore throat, you tend to try and handle it yourself. Like many people I know, I’m stubborn and very hesitant to visit the Doctor. There comes a point though however that you must go to a doctor for help. Buyers are the same. They will accept a certain amount of pain before they go to the professional (you) for help. If you were diligent in your first two questions, the tipping point discussion is very simple. Once you calculate their current and potential on-going cost of status quo for each of the issues, pains and goals, you simply ask the question straight out, “At what point are you going to make a change, what is your tipping point?” Wait for the answer and don’t talk over the buyers comments.

If a buyer is not sure what the tipping point is, they are likely not the decision maker. Not is all cases, but most of the time, buyers are certain how much pain they are willing to endure. How much revenue they are willing to lose or cost they are willing to pay. You need to persistent in getting the answer to the tipping point question.

Also if you have several number one questions and several number two questions, the accumulated total of all the costs and revenue losses should be considered when discussing the tipping point.

Three Questions you Must Ask during Discovery
These three questions can be the difference between winning and losing a sales opportunity. It is critical to understand a prospects issue, cost of the issue and tipping point. But more important is the fact that when you ask the first question you need to be confident you can resolve the issue better than your competition. 

About The Author:

Michael Nick is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of value estimation selling. Michael’s first book, ROI Selling (Dearborn Publishing ©2004) was a business best seller. In 2010, Simon & Schuster picked up the reprint rights giving ROI Selling another five years of availability in the market.

Over the past 13 years Michael has worked with Companies like, HP, Autodesk, Fiserv, Ingersol Rand, Trane, NEC, Checkfree, Bomgar, Rockwell Automation, Oracle, Great Plains,and more.

Visit him at: http://www.roi4sales.com

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The Most Under-Utilized Selling Technique - Are You Guilty?
by Jim Domanski

Perhaps the single most under-utilized selling tactic is the cross sell.

You know what I mean, right? I am referring to the classic "would-you-like-fries-with-that" technique to help sell more products and services. Are you guilty? Do you forget, ignore or otherwise dismiss this little gem of a tactic?

If so you're not alone and it's a crying shame because the cross-sell not only benefits you and your company, but it benefits your clients and prospects. This article will explore the cross sell and help get you started down the road to bigger sales and better commissions.

What the Cross Sell Does for You

In a nutshell, cross-selling puts money in your pocket. 

Get this: cross selling increases the average value of a sale by about 25%.  In addition, research indicates that about one in every five clients will take advantage of a well-crafted cross sell. (That's a 20 % close rate ... not a bad Return of Effort).   Do the math! It means you can increase your revenue volume by 25% on 20% of your sales. And you can do it in about 30 seconds or so.

So what does that means to you?

  • Increased sales and revenues
  • A happier boss who treats you like a rock star
  • Increased commissions and other perks
  • Increases the odds of a referral (should you  ask) 
  • A happier you who can act like a rock star

What the Cross Sell Does for Your Clients

A well implemented cross sell also benefits your clients making it a truly 'win/win' tactic. For instance, it:

  • Increases perceived value of the sale
  • Positions you as helpful and consultative
  • Educates and informs (and improves buying experience)
  • Avoids disappointment ("why didn't my rep tell me about that item?!")
  • Increases odds of repeat sales

Why Tele-Sales Reps Resist the Cross Sell 

Yet despite the benefits to both the rep and the client, there is still a general resistance to implement the tactic on a consistent basis. Here are the typical excuses given by reps (or worse, by their managers):

"It's too pushy" - It's too pushy when you relentlessly persist. No one likes to be badgered. Use you common sense! A cross sell should be a soft sell. Treat it as such. 

"Clients don't like it" - Absolutely true. They don't like irrelevant products being foisted upon them. They don't like to be harangued when they say no. But ... they do like it when it is a good idea (relevant, helpful) delivered in a sincere and well-intentioned manner.

"It's tacky"- Some reps associate cross selling with the hamburger joint mentality. In other words, they conjure up images of zombie-like reps who deliver a canned, monotone message. That's tacky. A well-crafted, relevant message specific to the purchased product, is not tacky. Delivered well it's powerful. So don't act like a zombie. Act like a consultant.

"If they wanted it, they would have asked for it"- Wrong. Clients don't think about your peripheral products. That's your job. Clients think about the issue or need at hand. It is your job to solve, improve or enhance that issue or need. If an additional product or service makes sense, tell them.

How to Cross Sell in 4 Simple Steps

Here's a simple, effective and customer focused process to cross sell.

Step #1: Handle the initial sale (whether inbound or outbound) first.
A good cross sell is about timing. Typically, the best time to cross sell is after the sale has been made. Begin by determining the client's needs and then present a solution that fits. When you satisfy those needs and the decision to purchase has been made, your client tends to be much more receptive to any suggestion you might have. It's so much easier to open up the wallet a little further. So get the bird in your hand before you go for the two in the bush. 

Step #2: Use a verbal bridge.

This simple step is the difference between a 'pushy' cross sell and a 'value added' cross sell. Introduce your item with a colloquial verbal bridge such as, 

"By the way, Kerri, while I have you..." or,
"Susan, before I let you go ..." or,
"Incidentally, Dr. Mike, did you know that ..."

The bridge is designed to get the client's attention and focus on your cross sell offer. By using your customer's name and by adding a casual 'bridging' phrase you alert the prospect that something else is forthcoming. As a result, they tune in and listen more closely.

Step #3: Present your offer

Your cross sell offer should have two components. First, it should complement the initial purchase. For instance, a chiropractor buying electro medical devices might be offered a back brace, a gas station owner might be offered 10W30 after purchasing a case of crank case oil, a business person buying a laptop might be offered a carrying case. Second, the item should be no more than 25% of the value of the initial purchase. (Why? Because a cross sell is quick, spontaneous sale that should not be perceived as a major purchase decision but rather a minor purchase decision.)

For example,

"Incidentally, Dr. Mike did you know that we also supply back braces for any of your patients who suffer from chronic back pain. This is insurance billable and is only ..."
"Susan, before you go, do you need any 10W30 to go with the crank case order. I can throw it on the truck at no extra charge."
"By the way Kerri, before I let you go, I wanted to mention that we have carrying cases on sale that would go perfectly with your new laptop."
Step #4: Close the Cross Sell

There are two ways to close the cross sell. The first is passive and it's simple. After you present your cross sell, pause. Don't say a word. Let the silence do the talking. The customer will mull it over and give you a yes or a no.

The second way is assertive. It's just as simple and tends to have a bit better close rate than the passive. After you present your cross sell,  ask, "Would you like me to add that onto your order?" or "would you like to go ahead with that?" or whatever words you want to use.  


And that's all there is to it. Simple and oh-so effective. Go out there and give it a good shot. 

About The Author:

Teleconcepts Consulting works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products and services. For more information on consulting services and training programs, articles, and other resources visit www.teleconceptsconsulting.com or call 613-591-1998.


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