7 Strategies to Cross Sell – ideas to help you sell more products to existing customers on the phone

Executive Summary

In this Special Report, I’m going to share 7 strategies that’ll help your in bound telephone customer care teams cross sell more products and services.

I’ll show you how to get over the selling Inner Game hurdle, how to make the selling more elegant and less pushy and how to enjoy the customer engagement more than ever before.

Cross Selling – yes please

As a child I have fond memories of shopping at the Supermarket sitting in the shopping cart seat, harvesting sweets and chocolates as we approached the checkout isle. This was my first experience of cross selling in action and I took full advantage of it as a 6 year old.

Whiz forward in time and I’m working with a number of clients who have call operations where inbound calls are taken from customers, mostly existing customers. And the companies all have a target to cross sell products to this cross sold saturated audience.

We all know the benefits of selling to existing customers – they already know you, trust you and have a positive experience of your products. It’s so much easier to cross sell or up sell to these people and a call centre operation seems an ideal place to do so.

But the results says otherwise.

In this article I’m going to share with you 7 strategies that you can adopt that will help you increase your success in this profitable area without undermining the customer care and service given.

1. Transition time

Your customer has phoned in for a reason and this query has to be answered, in full, to the complete satisfaction of your customer. But there needs to be a recognised transition from answering the query to cross selling since you cannot mix the two.  Yes you can hear and note down the various “hooks” and “triggers” that’ll help you later, whilst handling the query, but you cannot attempt to cross sell too early.  If you do, you’ll smack of hard sell and desperation, the customer and you, will get embarrassed and the relationship will suffer.

Instead, as soon as you’ve handled the query, confirm with the customer that they’re happy and contented, then move to the transition phase.

You could even say “I hope you’ve found this call of help to you Mr Brown?” then following their positive comment you could follow up with “May I ask Mr Brown, how have you found the service at our company?”

Invite them to revel in the value and service you’ve provided during the call.

At this point two things happen. Number one, you’ve engaged the customer in a conversation about your company and their connection with you and number two, you’ve moved their attention away from the original query they came to you with. And the bonus is they feel good about you.

And not one mention of that inane question “Is there anything else I can help you with?” which should be banished to the 20th century.

2. Permission to ask

Just like asking a girl for a dance, you’re not going to walk up to her, grab her and whisk her onto the dance floor, are you? Of course not, we woo her, engage in small talk at the bar and then, if the time is right, we ask her for a dance.  The same goes for you girls too.

In the same way, we need to woo our customer a little, romance them, so to speak, before asking further questions about their other needs. My question from earlier would work, so would:

“How have you found the service from our company?

“I notice you’ve been with us now for over 6 years, thank you for your custom.  May I ask what you like about us?”

“How aware are you of the other services we offer you?”

“What do you think about us?”

You’ll soon pick up the vibes if it’s not convenient to talk further and that’s perfectly ok. Don’t get all pushy on them, that’ll spoil the relationship and put you off asking next time.  Remember its fine for the customer to say no, it’s allowed.

At this point, you can start asking your problem questions. What are these you ask…let me explain.

3. Ask problem questions

It genuinely upsets me when I hear call handlers utter the questions such as:

“When’s your renewal date for your insurance coming up?”

“Would you like our new low interest rate credit card?”

“Can I interest you in our top of the range mortgage adviser?”

Yuk…they smell of pushy salesperson, desperation and despair.

The trick is to know the products and services that you have available and find customers who need them.  Seems too simple and it can be if you do problem analysis on each of your products. Once you know the problems and issues that your products solve for the customer, and the goals they allow your customer to achieve, then you ask a question that explore the problems and goals with the customer.

How do we do this? Easy, let me show you.

What we do wrong, or perhaps marketing do wrong, is we focus too much on the benefits of the products, its bells, whistles and advantages. That’s fine when you’re presenting the product to a customer who’s interested and you should do that. But if you do this to someone who you have no idea whether they have a need for the product, you’re coming over too pushy, the customer and you get totally embarrassed, you can sniff the atmosphere, and it all goes horribly wrong.

Reminds me of the AA Salesperson outside the supermarket “Would you like breakdown cover?”

And you say “I was never recruited as a salesperson, I hate selling” in defence of your sanity.

No, instead ask the question that reveals if the customer has the need or not. For example

“I hope it’s OK for me to ask Mr Brown, on the subject of credit cards, what concerns you most about these?”

“You have a large sum invested with us, do you mind me asking what your plans are here?”

“When it comes to getting general financial advice, what are you looking for to help you?”

“I noticed earlier you mentioned about saving the £200 per month for a potential house purchase, what hiccups do you foresee in buying a house?”

“I’m asking all my customers today whether they have car insurance that suits them? What do you look for in car insurance when you renew?”

You’ll get all sorts of information from your customer, so long as you keep quiet of course, but that’s another strategy. Listen very carefully for those little “hooks” and then present to these the value of your product as the potential solution.

So, if they mentioned that the concern they have with credit cards is paying them off completely because interest keeps getting added, have they thought about a personal loan to pay it all off at once so as to get rid of the card.

If they say they’re looking for competitive rates and ease of claiming for their car insurance, you can introduce your plan with the relevant benefits to match.

It’s elegant, needs practise, and you’ll never be accused of hard selling because if the customer has no need, then you don’t sell the product. Obvious really, remember they are allowed to say no.

Remember to close, ask them to go ahead…just ask them…don’t get hung up here, if they say no, that’s fine, it’s legal to do so.

4. You need to ooze empathy

Managers often ask me what the real secret to cross selling is. I say in reply that the real secret is having empathy with the customer, having a connection, a bond, so that you can ask those tricky questions. Without empathy, you’re on a hiding to nothing, it won’t work.

By empathy, I mean truly understanding and relating to the customer and their current situation.

Try imagining what the customer looks like, where they’re sitting or standing, get into their shoes by visualising and feeling the emotion they’re going through.  Are they nervous, confident, happy, sad, worried? Feel the same emotions with them and only then, will you have true empathy.

This replaces body language which face to face sellers have and you don’t.

The quick answer is to recruit for attitude, for people who are genuinely nice and interested in people.  Don’t recruit for skills…recruit for attitude and train the skills later.

5. Develop warmth in your voice

We all know about voice on the telephone or vocal cosmetics as I call it. Matching customer’s speed of talking, having a lower tone to build empathy and connection. But I go further here and advise that you develop warmth in your voice.  A sense of humour, a little jokey maybe, be yourself.

Speed up a little, slow down, develop a variation in your tone, rid yourself of those nasty verbal tics by listening to your recordings. Enjoy your job, smile lots…a little overdone now but it really makes a difference to your warmth.

6. Grow a higher purpose

I often talk to people who don’t want to sell, think it’s a dirty word and tentatively give it a go, fail and give up after that. They are accidental salespeople and they don’t like it.

The answer is to convince yourself of a higher purpose to what you’re doing. Some people on the phone like to think they’re genuinely helping people and I think we are. Some like to say they’re preventing our customer from being ripped off by others and this might be true. Others I’ve come across feel they’re using their product knowledge in the best way they can. People say they’re serving customers and this is true especially if you stop pushing products and enter a conversation about the customer and their needs.

Develop a higher purpose and you’ll not see yourself as a salesperson ever again.

7. Eliminate desperation

I’ve seen this disease in call handlers before many times. They’re so keen to push their products and services, they sound desperate. They’re so attached to the white board with their numbers and figures on them, they come over as pushy, manipulative and too salesey.  This might be an exaggeration but you get my point.

Remove the pressure from the scenario by removing your desperation to hit the numbers and achieve the sales. Detach yourself from the situation. There’s no pressure really, if the customer says no, so be it, they’re allowed to.

Believe in yourself and your strategy of engaging with customers and asking questions to gain permission to ask the tough ones later. Believe in your ability to be successful if you just be yourself, warm your voice, build huge empathy and engage with them.

Generate positive beliefs about the scene…believe in the products you sell, the company you represent, truly believe and have confidence because if you don’t, the customer won’t.

Look up from your pod and see a world of opportunities, of potential, rid yourself of the feelings of having to sell to the next customer or I’m doomed. Take personal responsibility for your efforts, have confidence in yourself and the team around you and let the pressure and desperation flow away.

When I take my children to the supermarket, I’m much wiser and I’ve discovered the art to prevent the classic sweet isle cross sell…I do it online and let the supermarket deliver the shopping to me.  No chance of cross selling now. Hold on…do delivery people know how to cross sell?