So, you’ve built a successful business, you’ve a base of loyal and appreciative clients, with all your investment in creating a good customer relationship it makes sound financial sense to exploit it by selling as many complementary offerings as possible, it’s good for both customer and seller.
This has been the driver for so many companies, of all sizes, to expand their product ranges, sometimes by R&D, often by acquisition.
It’s good theory but in practise the range of offerings can easily extend beyond the capability of the sales teams to understand them all. And as we all know if they aren’t comfortable selling the new, they tend to stay in their comfort zone, to focus on what they know well, inevitably missing out on many cross-selling opportunities.
Fortunately, as salespeople (and buyers) are becoming increasingly tablet-enabled, this is an area where technology can help; a few really interesting solutions that dramatically increase cross-selling capabilities are emerging.
As more and more service companies today seek to grab the high ground, they are developing portfolios of niche providers, often of complex services; trouble is that niches require familiarity to sell, service offerings can be complex, “all customers are different” and it’s all just too much for a busy sales team.
In the real world, time to become familiar with new offerings is limited, so training is rarely an option. Specialists may be available but sales folk still have to know when to bring them in and must be competent enough to identify the need. Often, the “show them what we can do” monkey lands screaming on the back of product management who respond to it with reams of mind-numbing technical documentation, impossible to navigate unless you’re the author.
A classic response is to use software but just making all this bumf available electronically via a portal or Sharepoint can build even more confusion as the numbers of documents multiply.
Imaginative ways of addressing the problem need to be found.
What sales people need is something pragmatic and functional, that cuts through information overload. Intelligent enough to guide a busy salesperson through the options available and capable of displaying just enough information, the relevant, nothing more. To be interactive,to allow a dialogue, to relate to the sales opportunity, to step through the sales process.
Above all it’s got to be sales focused, able to communicate those powerful nuggets of information that the most successful sales people use, just when they’re needed. Support a business-level dialogue, about benefits and proof statements not volumes of functional, contract or technical detail.
Amongst the many glossy electronic brochures that add little real value some solutions with this necessary intelligence are starting to emerge. We’re working with CoToCo, a highly flexible framework that has enabled us to develop a customised sales application with real interactivity, the intelligence to select and the ability to display what’s really important for a specific sales opportunity. Delivery is obvious, the web,smartphones and tablets, it is the 21st Century after all.
We’ve seen this sort of application effectively used in two ways, either as an aide-memoire before a meeting to “mug up” on what might be appropriate or used in conjunction with a prospect in the meeting, this has the advantage, (unlike a projected dumb slideshow) of getting salesman and prospect shoulder-by-shoulder, working together to identify problems and agree solutions, that’s good body language.
We’ve been working with MySQL. They have the interesting challenge, needing to sell without a core sales team, as their base software is available without cost, customers only pay for service and extras. We’ve developed a tool for their partners to help them cross-sell where it’s appropriate and to show them how to make money from Open Source Software. Take a look at it at http://mysql.cotoco.com It’s still evolving; so we’d be interested to hear what you think of it.
We strongly believe that sales people need to focus on the relationships they are developing, not the endless search for the information they need to make a case. Applications like this give them the ability to effortlessly navigate the data-swamp rather than drown in it.
“In these parts, a mans life may often depend on the smallest scrap of information” Clint Eastwood (Fistful of Dollars)