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7 Reasons Sales Stinks At Selling To Existing Customers

Whatever you want to call it…cross-selling, account development, penetration, or expansion…”selling more to existing customers” is clearly very important to most sales teams. In some form or another, it has ranked among the top five priorities in nearly every survey of sales priorities we’ve ever conducted or studied.

That said, in many of those same surveys, sales teams will also report that they aren’t doing a good job of it. They know that cross-selling or account development is really important. And they say that it’s one of their top priorities. But at the same time, they readily admit that they stink at it.

Now, we’ve been studying these types of surveys for multiple decades. And we’ve noticed that this “cross-selling is important but we stink at it” dynamic really hasn’t changed much over all that time.

So what gives? How can something this important be broken or deficient for so long? Why can’t sales teams solve this problem and capture this opportunity?

When it comes to cross-selling at the point-of-sale…or what we refer to as transaction-level cross-selling…

  1. In the heat of the moment, salespeople tend to get so focused on closing the deal at-hand that they simply forget about it.
  2. Even when they do remember, salespeople may not be entirely sure what more they should asking about or pushing for.
  3. And very often, salespeople are just afraid that if they do push for more, they’ll sour the deal and lose the business entirely.

As for account-level cross-selling over longer periods of time…otherwise known as account penetration, account development, or expansion…

  1. It’s just human nature for salespeople to focus most of their attention on accounts that are already big and well-developed.
  2. Even if they wanted to focus on less-developed accounts, they have far too many of them to manually explore and investigate.
  3. And if they did invest the time, manual investigation and “discovery” aren’t very effective for finding untapped opportunities.

Putting this all together, we can begin to understand the real reason this important priority has remained deficient for so long…and why this problem hasn’t been solved once and for all…

  1. The sales team is just not the right tool for the job.

Simply put, cross-selling is a problem/opportunity that cannot possibly be solved or addressed by individual salespeople. Not effectively, anyway. And certainly not on their own. By leaving it solely to the sales team, we’re essentially asking the impossible—so it’s little wonder that the deficiency remains, year after year.

To solve any problem, you need to use the right tool for the job. And as we discuss in How to Maximize Cross-Selling and Up-Selling, effectively addressing the cross-selling priority…at both the transaction- and account-levels…requires the development and implementation of data-driven, operational solutions that deliver consistently, reliably, and at-scale.

Does any of that sound like the sales teams’ forte’? Please.

If you really want to solve it once and for all…and build an effective capability around cross-selling and account development…Sales Operations is not just the right tool for the job…it’s the only tool for the job.

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