Sales rep listening skills

Sales rep listening skills

Achieving sales goals is always going to be ranked as a high priority for companies across industries. If your company offers multiple products and/or services, then an important part of meeting those sales goals involves cross-selling and upselling.

“The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 to 20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70%.”

Marketing Metrics

If this is an area where your sales or customer service teams struggle, then that presents a great opportunity to fill a gap and increase sales. In fact, anyone who comes into contact with customers can have the ability to cross-sell or upsell, if they’ve been trained on the options available to meet customers’ needs.

Knowledge of Product & Service Offerings is for Everyone

People make small talk about where they work all the time. If a software developer meets someone at a party and says they work for X company, and that person is a current customer, they may say that they love the product, but wish it had X feature. If your developer has been trained on all the offerings of your company, they can recommend looking into an add-on that includes the feature their new acquaintance (and your customer) is looking for.

Your sales and customer service teams are obviously going to be the main generators of cross-selling and upselling revenue, but don’t neglect to train your entire staff on the offerings of your company, along with providing updates whenever big changes are made to those offerings.

For departments that aren’t in contact with customers on a regular basis, this training doesn’t have to be as in-depth as it would be for someone on the front lines of sales, but they should come away with a strong grasp of the stand out features and how they’re related in the pricing structure.

When it comes to your customer-facing teams, regular training on the complete offerings of your company is a necessity to see valuable cross-sells and upsells grow your revenue. If your products or services are segmented into different departments, provide a central location where representatives can find information on an offering they’re less familiar with, along with the contact info for individual reps who can provide more insight. Make sure to communicate across departments on important updates, and how that affects cross-selling. Starting off a relationship with a customer by offering something that is no longer available is hardly a good way to build trust and loyalty with them.

When your reps have a thorough understanding of how all your products and services fill customers’ various needs, you’ll be able to build your team’s confidence in offering them. found that 15 percent of customers actually want to hear about upsell offers, if done properly.

The phrase “if done properly” is important there. There are right and wrong ways to cross-sell or upsell, so once your reps are trained on the company’s offerings, you’ll need to ensure they understand how and when to take the conversation there.

Listening for Unspoken Needs

In a conversation with a prospect or current customer, your reps will need to be constantly reading between the lines. That’s why active listening is one of the most important skills in their playbook. If they hear a magic word that sounds like an upsell opportunity and interrupt the person while they’re still talking, they’re probably not listening for the full picture.

People can tell when someone isn’t really listening to them, and when that happens, regardless of whether or not an upsell would help them, that rep’s misstep in relational awareness makes the human they’re talking to feel more like a dollar sign.

Your customers need to trust the company before they’ll reopen their wallets, and knowing that they’re being heard is a crucial way to build that trust.

Cross-selling and upselling only works when the customer can see a connection between the problem they’re experiencing or the gap they want filled and how another purchase will solve that – at a reasonable price. Neglecting the customer’s budget is a quick way for an additional sale to fall flat.

Timing is Key

Knowing when to offer an upgrade or another product or service is another important aspect of a successful cross-sell or upsell. That also means knowing when not to offer it at all! Trying to sell more at the wrong moment can leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth, and potentially cause them to switch to a competitor.

If your customer service reps are helping people solve problems all day, make sure they’re focused on first solving those problems. Offering an upgrade to someone who isn’t having a good experience with your product already is not going to yield good results.

A well-received offer to upgrade or make another purchase with your company happens when your reps can make a recommendation to solve a need they’ve identified through listening to the customer. If no such need can be identified, don’t press your reps to attempt selling additional products without having a basis for the offer – this can easily backfire and cause you to lose customer loyalty.

While these skills are applicable to many industries, the finance and banking industry in particular requires well-trained representatives who have excellent active listening skills to successfully cross-sell financial products. The new Financial Services Business Skills video series from The Jeff Havens Company has been recently added to The BizLibrary Collection so that financial institutions can provide quick and entertaining training opportunities for their reps. Along with cross-selling, the business skills featured in these videos with the Havens brothers include Customer Service Basics, Professionalism, Internal and External Communications, and more.

Watch a 1-minute preview of “Financial Services Business Skills – Cross-Selling” from The BizLibrary Collection here:

Help employees improve their active listening skills with our free guide:

Active Listening competency guide