As salespeople, we are very often product or service driven lead i.e. when a new product or service is launched by our company, then we tend to focus on simply ‘mentioning’ these new items to our existing customers as we come into contact with them during our day-to-day activities.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather salespeople at least mentioned these new products or services to their customers, than not mentioning them at all! This is, however in my view, a traditional ‘muck at the wall’ selling style – meaning if they your sales people do enough ‘mentioning activity’ (and sales calls), some of that muck might actually ‘stick’ and they will convert some business!

This is however, very ineffective in my view and can also be quite tiring from a recipient’s point of view. In addition, it also perpetuates the age-old stereotype of what ‘salespeople’ are like i.e. that they talk too much; they don’t listen very well and that they usually try and sell what they are most interested in, or which give them most commission! Now, this may be a very cynical view, but even now I still see this practice very regularly. And as a consequence, it results in far less sales than could have been won with a different, more proactive, conscious approach.

So, in my view we should be helping our sales teams to structure their conversations more positively so that they start ‘walking their customers onto the needs’ for those new products and services.

A good start point then when upselling then is to encourage your salespeople to ask questions of their customers such as… ‘Given your experiences with XYZ product to date Mr Customer, what in your view do you find are the real challenges in using it?’…. ‘What would you like to see it/us doing differently to make it better?’ … ‘If money were no object, how you think it could be improved upon?’ Etc.. In this way, your salespeople are encouraging their customers to ‘think’ about how easy or difficult a product/service is to use and what would be on their wishlist to improve it. If sales people have done things right, a need should ‘pop out’ to have your better product or service version (more expensive).

When cross selling, it’s the same principle i.e. sales people encouraging customers to visualise or think about an issue. Of course, this time there is no existing product or service the customer has to relate to. So, in this scenario therefore, it’s more about how your sales people ‘work’ the customers into thinking about their own business strategy and to come up with their own ideas as to what they think they will need to go about achieving those objectives (enter stage right …your products and services!?). These needs are likely to be some that your sales people can then provide solutions for!

So, as an example, if say one of your sales team’s accounts has some operational machinery they sold them before and your sales person wants to sell a service contract e.g. for preventative maintenance. The questions your sales person ask should …… Focus on that customer’s experiences of using the machinery day to day as part of their operation; Glean their opinion on the importance of continuity of that operation the machinery provides them; Understand the impact of any unplanned downtime due to faults or breakdowns; Unearth how much that would actually cost their business in consequetial lost sales etc etc.

If this is done conversationally and by encouraging your team to tray and walk their customers more onto the needs, it is likely that your sales people will sell more of their added value services and products!

Job done!

Remember, that you and I are very often motivated to buy on ‘added value’ – especially, in a commoditised industry or market. Your customers and prospects are no different!!

This ‘value’ comes from perceived points of difference in your offer, versus that of your competition and is therefore reliant on your salespeople using their skills to create that perception of need.

They can do it very simply by using these techniques and by developing more of a conscious, proactive approach as a part of their DNA in their sales approach.

As sales director then, both you and they will reap the rewards in increased sales. And very quickly too!