Cross-Selling Services: Companies Should Serve Well, Then Sell

Companies that want to sell more products and services through their staff, should pay better attention to basic customer service if they want to succeed.

A new survey by The Forum Corp. indicates that, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, consumers are open to sales pitches from customer service representatives -- but only if the rep first solves the customer's problem and is sensitive to the customer's needs.

The survey of 1,624 respondents world-wide found that:

  • 88 percent of customers value service reps who suggest alternative products or services that better meet their needs
  • 73 percent are interested in learning about new products or services the company is promoting
  • but many resist customer sales reps with annoying behaviors, especially selling from scripts, pushing products that aren't useful to the consumer, and/or continuing to sell after the consumer has indicated they are not interested.

"The message is: Serve well, then sell," said Tom Atkinson, director of research for The Forum Corp., a global workplace learning company.

Cross-selling occurs when a client representative, attempts to sell other products and services to a client during a transaction. The survey found that clients are most likely to buy when the customer representative exhibits the following three behaviors:

  • focusing on the client’s needs versus pushing a product or service
  • solving the cleint’s problem before talking about additional products and services
  • describing how the products or services would benefit the client.

At the same time, clients are least likely to buy when the customer representative engages in irritating behaviors, the top three of which are:

  • continuing to sell after the client has said no
  • following a script
  • pushing products or services that are not useful to the client.

Lastly, the survey identified three behaviors that service representatives don't do that client’s wish they did:

  • speaking clearly and slowly
  • respecting the clients time and right to say "no"
  • giving the client advice that helps him or her save money or better meet his or her needs.

"Excellent service can mean excellent sales," added Atkinson. "Companies that deliver mediocre service fail to generate additional sales and damage relationships with their existing customers. By contrast, companies with excellent service satisfy customers with their current purchases and open the door to future purchases."

The random Web survey's sample was weighted toward older and more affluent consumers who have more spending power than others. The average age was 43 and the average annual family income was $56,000. Slightly more women (53 percent)
than men responded.

You may like these other stories...

Remember the old joke about the devil showing a guy around Hell? There were great parties, swimming pools, and sumptuous food. The guy liked what he saw, lived a bad life and went to Hell when he died. Upon arrival the devil...
Due to fierce competition in the accounting industry, some CPAs may feel pressure to compete for business using pricing alone. However, this is a losing battle in the long run: Competing on price will lead to the need for...
If the thought of blogging makes you as nervous as an executive facing an IRS audit, stop worrying. You can overcome your challenges with these tips.1. Blogging is good for business. You'll benefit as your blog displays...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.
Aug 26
This webcast will include discussions of recently issued, commonly-applicable Accounting Standards Updates for non-public, non-governmental entities.
Aug 28
Excel spreadsheets are often akin to the American Wild West, where users can input anything they want into any worksheet cell. Excel's Data Validation feature allows you to restrict user inputs to selected choices, but there are many nuances to the feature that often trip users up.
Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.