The most commonly accepted definition of cross-selling is to sell additional products to the same client; with the hopes that the Agent/Client relationship will have a solid enough product foundation that the Client doesn’t leave for a competitor.
However, to be successful at cross-selling, one must do more than simply sell additional products. One must transcend the product peddling mentality and become an Advisor of sorts, focusing on both relationship building and customer service.
How does one master the art of cross-selling?
It begins with listening to your Client. Consumers, regardless of what they are in the market for, are much more knowledgeable than ever before. They are doing their research, and sometimes have a pretty good idea of what they want, how much they want and the price they want to spend. So, to sit down with them and try to “sell” them additional products, or products not in line with what they have researched, they will walk away from you. Start by developing a two-way dialogue.
Be sure to ask open-ended questions and make statements that invoke a deeper analysis of their personal financial needs. Ask them how they reached their decision, and have they discussed their needs with anyone else? Once you acknowledge their concerns and address their needs, they will buy from you, as a trusted advisor, versus you having to sell to them.
The next step to effective cross-selling is to know the details and nuances of your product portfolio. By knowing the features and benefits of the various financial services and products you offer, the quicker you will be able to satisfy your clients’ needs in a manner that fits with what they are looking for. They will more readily perceive you as a professional, and bring additional business to you if they feel confident with your ability to respond quickly and accurately.
Once you have a client, and you look to them for cross-selling opportunities, be sure to recommend products and services that make sense. By keeping their original needs and concerns your priority, and only exposing them to products and services that make sense according to their risk tolerance and family budget, over time they will come to trust that you have only their best interest in mind and will allow additional selling opportunities.
In some cases, there are multiple lines of business in one household, sold by the same firm or insurance agency, but not by the same agent. This could be due to differences in licensing, or differences in specialties. Your best option for successive product sales is to keep an open line of communication with the other agents. Share your conversations and experiences. Perhaps the client shared with the P&C agent that they would like to start saving for college. It would behoove the P&C agent to share that information, as it is a potential sale for a co-worker, and also another opportunity to solidify the agent/client relationship. Sometimes playing nicely with a few is better than not playing at all.
In conclusion, to effectively cross-sell and solidify your relationship as a trusted advisor is through a combination of listening and effective communication. Whether you are listening to a client’s initial interpretation of their needs and future goals; discussing with other co-workers about opportunities or simply communicating a new product line or funding option. It all boils down to communication and advising, not selling, that makes you successful at continuous business opportunities.
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