ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Do you want Fries with that? The Art of Cross-Selling

Have you ever escaped McDonalds without being asked of you wanted fries or a drink? Why do you think they do that?

Perhaps they're concerned with their patrons nutritional needs? More likely, management realized that they can make more money by helping their customers identify additional needs and then satisfying them.

Do your prospects and customers have additional needs that you could be satisfying? Are you frustrated that your staff does not identify or try to satisfy those needs often enough?

We know that McDonalds does not have the most motivated work force in the industry. Most of their employees are teens first entering the job market. Then how can they effectively out cross-sell your team of experienced insurance pros?

The answer is in the level of management commitment exercised at McDonalds compared to most insurance businesses. At McDonalds, if the manager does not train and manage his staff to cross-sell, he or she is replaced. Any employee who feels that "selling" other products is not an integral part of his service job is permitted to "career adjust" elsewhere.

How often have we heard service employees state that they feel uncomfortable offering other products to customers? That cross selling is like sales, you might get rejected by the customer? That they are too busy with computer input and paperwork to offer customer other products.

How do you react to this? With a shrug, feeling that you need more clerical help. And how often, after you get more help, do you find that the paperwork expanded to fully occupy the new employee's time, leaving no "spare" time to cross sell?

Now a few answers - simple to state, but difficult to implement. If you do implement them, however, you will begin to mine the gold in your files.

1. Make cross selling an integral part of the service as well as sales job descriptions. Give it a level of evaluation importance equal or greater than any other job function. Explain to your employees, once and for all, that every employee in the agency is a sales person.

2. Require cross selling reports indicating the number of customer contacts experienced, how many were approached with cross selling opportunities and their results. Use the results of the reports to reward successful employees and to counsel and retrain unsuccessful cross sellers.

3. Make it clear - and follow through on your commitment - that anyone who can't or won't pursue cross selling opportunities will have to be replaced.

4. Play an active role in the development on cross selling plans. For instance:

Sell Homeowners to Auto customers and vice versa

Sell life to personal lines customers who have multiple policies already.

Sell personal lines to commercial lines customers.

Sell personal lines to employees of commercial lines customers.

Just like McDonald's you must help the customer identify his or her other insurance or financial service needs. If you do so as successfully as McDonalds you can make a great deal more money without adding a great many more customers.