Cross-selling can be a challenge for all sales organizations, and distributors are no exception. David Mack, Industrial Sales and Distribution Manager for Tooling U-SME, offers four ways an organization can improve their sales team’s cross-selling abilities to sell more, increase market share and minimize the competition.
In theory, the activity known as “cross selling” is a real benefit – unfortunately, when it comes to execution, companies often run into challenges. Executives have high expectations, but at the field level, there is no owner’s manual that directs how to seamlessly consolidate two sales operations.
Additionally, it’s human nature to stay with what you know, and salespeople, if not coaxed out of their comfort zones, will remain focused on selling familiar products.
Companies need a solid plan to make cross selling happen. After deciding on account and territory alignment, sales management should focus on these four areas:
1. Compensation. Management needs to implement a compensation program that rewards cross selling. If there isn’t added incentive to expand a portfolio, salespeople will not be motivated to change what they are doing.
2. Business Performance. Salespeople are more successful as they widen their knowledge of products, services and technology, which benefits companies and customers. Tying business performance to reviews and compensation provides incentive to diversify.
3. Technical Assessment. Smart companies assess the knowledge of their salespeople up front. This determines a baseline around the entire portfolio and uncovers gaps. Some employees may already be familiar with new products and will require less training. Training to individual needs helps companies avoid redundant and irrelevant courses, saving time and money.
4. Training. Often there is resistance to spending time learning about new products, especially when a salesperson is already a multi-million dollar performer. However, rigorous cross training covering fundamentals and the product piece is critical. Using an online training program that aligns a curriculum to gaps identified during the assessment stage, and tracks performance, provides a one-stop solution. It’s important to remember that to achieve real change, training must be ongoing. Just as consistent pressure over millions of years is needed to create a diamond, a sales team must feel continuous pressure in the form of training and reinforcement to help change the corporate culture when two organizations join together.
These focus areas can help ensure sales teams are engaged and knowledgeable enough to sell all products. In the end, continual training with incentives allows salespeople the ability to sell on technical value, not just price, and be more successful than ever.
For insights on how companies can tie their learning and development program to the bottom line, download a free copy of Tooling U-SME’s report: “Four Ways to Measure ROI of Fundamental Technical Training.”