Finding and capitalizing on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities is a common frustration, so it was not a surprise that it landed in the top 10 list of areas that VPs of Sales in the semiconductor and component industries wanted their organizations to improve upon.
One of the key issues I discovered in researching this area is that too many companies rely solely on sales to find cross-sell or up-sell opportunities and go after them. For many sales people it is more exciting and rewarding to go after new accounts than go back to an existing account and working on an incremental up-sell or cross-sell opportunity. When I looked at companies that were successful at doing this, they all had a well thought out strategy and/or an entirely separate set of resources focused on gaining new business at existing accounts.
By definition, cross-selling and up-selling opportunities are at accounts that you are already doing business with. You have a great deal more information about these accounts, the contact infrastructure, and their processes than you would at a new prospect account. And even better, they know a lot about you (I hope you’re doing a good job building a happy customer before you tackle cross-selling/up-selling). This big advantage needs to be leveraged by an incumbent vendor.
A strategy for creating new revenue at these accounts needs to be based on a number of factors, including resources. A couple areas that typically can be utilized without concern for resource or other limitations are marketing and customer service. One thing I found out was that, surprisingly, few companies I spoke with did any marketing at all to existing accounts. Their entire marketing efforts were focused on generating new leads and new customers. Perhaps the simplest marketing campaign one can run is one to an existing customer base. It is quite easy, for example, to develop very well targeted email campaigns based on known contact lists, knowledge of current circumstances, and understanding of the customers’ strategic intent. These campaigns can also be done in monthly newsletters. Either way you have the big advantage of providing content as a service to existing customers as opposed to intrusive spam in their inbox.
A second area I noted being underutilized at most accounts is customer service. Customer service is a consistent conduit of information to and from existing customers. There are several ways to incorporate customer service into generating cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. In fact they can become a valuable vehicle to find and flag opportunities to grow the business at existing accounts. When responding to customer requests/issues via phone or email, take the opportunity to inform them about new products or services, even if it is as simple as “Do you mind if I send you a datasheet on our new low-power gizmo?” on a phone call or automatically include it in an email response. Another avenue is emailing a contact in another group within the company with a personal email such as “Bill from your GSM smartphone group had great success using our low-power gizmo and suggested you may be able to take advantage of its benefits”.
There are also a number of tools that can be incorporated to assist in automating many of these tasks including CRMs or email marketing or newsletter programs. Define what best fits your needs and set up an internal structure to get it done, formalize a strategy, and get started today.