Sales Leaders often find it difficult to convince an otherwise successful sales team to up-sell, cross-sell or portfolio sell, i.e. to sell a higher value product or service, to sell a related, complementary product or service or to sell a whole suite of services.
It often doesn’t matter whether there are financial incentives in place to do so either. It can be really tough to move people who are, or who have been successful selling a single product or service to convince them to try something else, regardless of how much their employer needs or wants them to.
Why is it so hard?
Well it’s worth considering for a moment that your sales people might be the most risk adverse people in your organisation. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but it’s likely to be true. Most good sales people work out the best way to hit their target, by knowing what a “good” prospect looks like, what to ask, when to ask it and what to sell and propose to close the deal. They’ve got really good at this; in fact the great ones have it down to such a fine art that they can readily hit their targets year in and year out by simply following the same approach. And let’s be clear; you’ve been hugely grateful for that too!
This approach and process has been proven to work so well, that a sales person will expect to hit their On Target Earnings and as such will set their personal income expectations and therefore expenditure and aspirations on achieving that bonus year in and year out.
And that’s what we’ve wanted from them as well. A consistent deliverer of predictable, profitable revenue.
Sales is a business that relies on confidence and reputation. So what do you think happens to those two things when we ask our sales teams to sell something they are less sure about, to perhaps engage in conversations where they may not have all the answers off pat or the “success stories” so well worn in the telling, to hand?
In short it puts both those things at risk. It means there’s a chance that by stepping outside their comfort zones they may not look as capable and confident as they do normally. It also means they might not be as successful as they usually are. It means they may not hit their target and that means they may not make their bonus and that’s a really big deal for you as well as for them!
In essence, that’s why it’s so hard to convince sales people to sell outside their current comfort zones.
One way we’ve found of helping organisations to overcome the challenge is to support the sales person by arming them with a new way to have an informed peer to peer discussion, rather than a one way monologue of a sales pitch that is the standard Powerpoint deck.
It’s a way of changing the conversation from “product/service, feature and benefit” sales pitch to a guided two-way dialogue based around and leading with the customer’s issues, challenges, priorities and concerns.
It puts the customer and their objectives at the heart of the discussion and supports the sales person all the way through, enabling them to readily access relevant supporting material or product information as and when they need it.
And it works, very well indeed.
It took one company from a sales team selling products from a catalogue to buyer in an customer to a team that now sells a whole “smart city” agenda to the Executive.
It took another other organisation that sells Point of Sale Card Processing from being locked in a silo to selling across their whole portfolio, and it took a Finance company from selling only one of its three offerings to each of its customers to selling across the whole offering and to collaborating cross company on bigger deals to.