Cross-selling – The Big Questions

Posted on: June 27, 2017

At a recent cross-selling and referrer management course we tackled some big questions relating to cross-selling.

  1. What are you trying to achieve? – Most firms have cross-selling initiatives. Many firms repeatedly launch new initiatives to improve cross-selling. However, the starting point has to be to set some clear goals about what you want to achieve – and how you will measure progress. Often, firms find that clients which use a variety of services are more profitable. Clear objectives will enable you to focus resources and effort and measure success.
  2. What’s your philosophy? – Many firms believe that cross-selling is the duty of all of their professional staff. So it’s a rather tall order to get everyone in the firm involved in and motivated to cross-sell. Other firms identify specific individuals, roles or teams to focus cross-selling activity.
  3.  What’s your focus? – This relates to your goals. It is difficult to simply wish to sell more services to all clients. It is more likely that you will wish to focus the promotion of specific services to specific clients. Perhaps there has been some analysis to identify the most promising gaps. Alternatively, you may have a series of campaigns designed to ensure that the most important services are promoted both internally and to target clients.
  4.  Who owns the clients? Where firms perceive that partners “own” the client relationship, cross-selling initiatives will flounder as risk-averse relationship partners resist approaches to their clients which they protect zealously. Where firms have a culture that the clients belong to the firm there is a higher likelihood of collaborative effort to ensure the client uses as many of the firm’s services as possible.
  5.  What does the client want? – Whilst some clients will welcome the convenience of having multiple services delivered through a single contact point at a professional firm, other clients will prefer to use a variety of firms so that they can appoint “Horses for courses” and use the the top advisers from a variety of specialist firms. Firms need to segment and target their cross-selling activity and check, in advance, that they are meeting client needs rather than pushing additional services.
  6. Are your service standards consistent? – A frequent reason cited for failing to cross-refer clients internally is a lack of consistency of service. Some professionals perceive their colleagues in other departments as providing an inferior service – either poor technical expertise or inadequate response times. Pushing for cross-selling in these situations is likely to be met by internal resistance and may harm relationships where clients expect a high level of service.
  7. Are your internal systems and processes good enough? – You need to focus cross-selling efforts on specific groups and types of clients – those that are the largest or have the most potential or share some other attribute. This means that your database needs to be up to date. You also need to be able to track cross-selling activity – both the identification of opportunities and the activity to achieve the goals. You also need to consider the training programmes for successful cross-referrals.
  8. Is there motivation and reward to cross-sell? Where professional staff are recognised and rewarded only for their billable hours then there is little motivation to cross-sell – which takes time, risks the client relationship and generates opportunities for others in the firm. Many firms have developed targets and reward systems to encourage their professionals to dedicate time and energy to cross-selling.
  9. Are your people trained in selling? – Cross-selling relies on good relationship management practices and the ability to sell. Professional staff need to be able to talk to clients about topics broader than their specialist area. They need to have sufficient product knowledge of the firm’s services so that they can identify appropriate opportunities. And they need to know how to explore those opportunities and persuade the client that the solution offered matches their needs and offers superior value to other solutions.

Further details on public cross-selling courses available here:

For marketing and business development people http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training.aspx

For lawyers, accountants and surveyors http://www.mblseminars.com/Outline/Developing-More-Work-from-Referrers-_-Intermediaries/5770/

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