When giving premium care to customers it’s easy to get so caught up in providing quality service that you forget to optimize the benefits for your own company as well.
Talking with companies who are established suppliers and who do an excellent job of providing customer service, I am surprised how rarely anyone ever asks whether they can be of further assistance to me. It is especially surprising when I thank the person and tell them how pleased I am. (There is no better time to ask about providing additional services then after someone pays you a sincere compliment.)
You believe you can offer additional value to your happy customer, but you don’t want to be pushy or assume anything; so how to begin the process of cross selling?
Start inside your own head, with your attitude about cross selling. Many inside sales staff and customer service reps are uncomfortable asking for additional business. They feel that it’s their job to respond to the customer inquiry, not to be looking for more sales. While that may be a CSR’s primary responsibility, not learning about new opportunities and how to solve additional concerns is actually doing customers a disservice. Cross selling is not a trick or a gimmick. Customers want to buy from you if you can help them. So the first job is to learn more about how you can help. Knowledge is power; the more you know the more potential there is to be of assistance.
Natural and Logical
A good place to begin is to ask questions. When you are engaging with a customer try to learn one more piece of information about the person and/or about the company. It is not about closing new sales, it is about opening or developing new and stronger relationships. If you pay attention and are genuinely interested, questions and dialog flow quite naturally. Socially relevant topics come up as you get to know people. I wouldn’t open a relationship by asking the following, but if you are regularly speaking to a person you can easily learn this type of information:
- Where did you grow up, are you originally from the area?
- Do you have a family?
- Do you have any pets?
- How long have you worked for XYZ company?
- What did you do before?
People do business with people they like. People who like each other are interested and understand one another.
Based on what your established customers already buy, and from what you know about the type of business they are in, the following questions are very logical:
- Where do you get your…?
- Who is an ideal customer for your company?
- Are you having difficulty finding… (complimentary products and services?)
- You may not be aware that we…, do you use…?
You or someone in your company is an expert in your products and services. Prepare a list of questions that will help you learn the areas where you can solve problems, add value, strengthen relationships, and grow sales.
A Powerful Relationship Builder
Keep a record of what you learn about people and companies. Remembering their dog’s name, asking about the son’s baseball game, or reminding the customer about the additional material required for the big lifting job can go a long way toward building a relationship and establishing you as a valued business partner.
What You Focus on GROWS
Below are some useful tips from Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, Hall of Fame keynote speaker, executive speech coach, and sales presentation skills expert, that can be used in person or over the phone with customers. Take one idea and put it to use for a week or two, then move to the next.
8 Steps to an Outstanding Sales Structure
Even if you’ve made a compelling presentation, it often takes weeks or months before you get an answer. As a result, the goal is to burn vivid examples and key ideas into the prospect’s mind, especially if it’s a competitive bid.
Yet, what is the average sales presentation structure?
“Hi, I am Fred Smith. Let me introduce you to my team: Tom, Dick, and Harriett.
Thank you for your time.
We are from the ABC Company…
This is what we do…
This is how long we have been in business…
This is what we are known for…
These are the clients we do business with…
We would like to work with you…”
That is a dreary, “who cares” presentation at its worst. So, what’s a more effective structure? Take these eight steps to create one that’s focused on the potential client:
1. Sincere compliment. Start off with something that they are proud of—and that shows you’ve done your homework: “Congratulations on the success of your recent product launch/ad campaign/stock performance.”
2. Introduction to their challenge or problem. This is not the time to mention your product or solution. A better approach is to say something about their current responsibility, challenge, or opportunity: “This is the right time to make a bold move and…”
3. Differentiate from your competition. Everyone else thanks prospects for their time… so don’t. Instead, say: “Thank you for the opportunity to discuss how our company (be specific with your service or product) can help you accomplish your goals.”
4. Thank and make heroes of your contacts. If you have a champion, now it is appropriate to thank them: “Thank you, Theresa, for your generosity of time and knowledge to help us understand the ABC Company’s goals, commitments, and challenges.”
5. Provide examples, experience, and social proof. Your prospect must understand how your product or service could improve their business—and how you are not just a salesperson but rather a trusted advisor. Success stories and case histories are powerful tools.
6. Review your key ideas. This can be accomplished with a rhetorical question or simple statement based on your premise: “So how is ABC Company better off by doing business with us?” or “As you heard, the way our company would approach helping you accomplish your goals…”
7. Head into the close with confidence, not a question. One mistake many of your competition makes is to close on questions. No. No. No. You need to close on a high and let your last words linger. Depending on the complexity of your offering, or how many people are involved, you may want to say: “At this point, our most logical step is…”
8. Reinforce your key idea. Your last words are arguably the most important, so never introduce a new idea you have no time to develop. Your approach might sound something like this: “Again, thank you for the opportunity to demonstrate how our approach could well be what you have been searching for. We look forward to our next meeting. In your discussions, remember the results of [other successful client]. They invited us in with the same time line you have. You have the security of knowing we pioneered this industry.”
Most professionals are fairly smooth when they get into the body of their presentation. Very few, however, know how to open and close effectively and memorably. In the middle of the night, if your spouse elbowed you and asked, “How are you going to open and close next week’s sales presentation?” your automatic response needs to be exactly what you will say. – Patricia Fripp www.fripp.com
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