I’ve run into a lot of folks recently who have a similar problem. Maybe this sounds familiar to you. The person I’m talking to is a marketing person for a company full of service advisors. Maybe they’re lawyers, or accountants, or doctors or insurance salespeople.
As a marketer, you’re in a weird spot. Your people - doctors, lawyers, whatever - are primarily responsible for finding and retaining their own clients. Your job, as the marketing professional, is to help the entire business grow. Your people’s job is to sell whatever specific service falls within their special so they can make their commission.
I think there’s a huge opportunity here, as well as a huge challenge. First, the challenge:
Let’s say you’re an insurance company and you have a life insurance specialist and a property insurance specialist. Although the same client for life insurance might be an ideal fit for property insurance, it’s very difficult to force one to cross-sell to the other. There are essentially three options available to you.
Option 1: You can incentivize cross-selling. If Agent 1 sends business to Agent 2, Agent 1, then this option would give some sort of referral pay to Agent 1. This is a great idea, but it does require some software and money - you’ll have to keep up with the referrals and then pay out when the deals close. If done correctly, this option can increase morale, incentivize teamwork and increase revenue across the entire organization.
This option does, however, require a lot out of your sales agents. If they’re not familiar with other services or practices, they’ll have to train themselves up so that they can talk about it intelligently. They’re typically responsible for the handoff or introduction to the second agent, and will typically handle following up with their clients to help the second agent close the deal.
With this option, a small percentage of your sales agents will do really well, a large percentage of sales agents will do the bare minimum, and a few folks will choose not to participate at all.
Option 2: You can reprimand agents for not cross-selling. I’ve seen this look different across several different companies and organization types. The most common is a set of goals on monthly/quarterly/annual evaluations. If the agent has hit X number of referrals, you say good job. If the agent does not hit X number of referrals, then they’re in trouble. Pay might be reduced, they might go on probation, it might factor into the HR file as a negative performance indicator.
This option typically gets better results at the cost of company morale. People are referring and selling not because they see the benefit to the client or because they’re motivated, but because they don’t want to get their wrists slapped. You open the door for agents to refer customers into products or services that might not be the best fit, and you can create some internal issues that can, if not watched very closely, carry over into your overall customer satisfaction.
Option 3: This is where there’s a marketing process that primarily drives cross-selling. This requires your team to be pretty organized. You’ll need to have all of your customers and prospects entered into a CRM, and you’ll need to be keeping track of what services they are currently receiving from you.
When I set something like this up for my clients, I like to pick one service or vertical, work to figure out which of your current clients are the most likely candidates for a cross-sell into this new service, and run a couple of campaigns to gauge interest, learn, and ultimately close more deals. Here’s how it could look.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you’re a law office, and you have a lawyer that works to set up business entities (LLCs, C-Corps, etc) and you have another lawyer who primarily focuses on Intellectual Property (IP) law. We’ll identify that many of the companies that the first lawyer sets up are likely candidates for IP law services. Perhaps they don’t know the advantages of having an IP attorney so they won’t ever come asking for it. Perhaps the first lawyer doesn’t feel comfortable talking about Intellectual Property law because he’s not a specialist in that area, so he’s relunctant to start the conversation with his clients.
This is where an automated marketing process can make your life easier. Let’s say you schedule an email to go out one month after each entity is set up, that says “Hey, we hope everything’s going well with your new business. If you have any questions, let us know. If everything’s going well, here are a few things that you might want to be thinking about as your business grows.” Below that, you’d have a cool image, a witty headline and a paragraph introducing IP law and why it matters, with an invitation to click through to a blog post to learn more.
If our marketing automation process and software is real good, you’ll be tracking whether or not they’re opening the email, whether or not they click the link, whether or not the click into the page, and you can track any actions that they take on your site after they finish reading the post. You could be bold and put a form at the end of the blog post that says, “Ready to talk to someone about IP law? Fill out the form and we’ll have someone contact you?” You could be conversation, with live chat on your site, asking whether or not they have any questions.
I would set up a score, where we would start to gauge and track interest as we send more IP Law related materials. If they open an email with IP Law in the title, we’ll add 5 points to their score - if they don’t, we subtract 3. For each blog post on IP Law that they read on your site, we add 5 points and for each period of 30 days that they don’t come to your site at all, we subtract 5. Once they pass a certain threshold, let’s trigger a task for the marketer to talk with both lawyers about this client and come up with a game plan for setting up a joint call to discuss IP law services.
You won’t get it right the first time, and that’s not really the goal. The goal is to start learning about your audience, finding what resonates and what doesn’t resonate with them, and using that data to make decisions that have a solid impact on your revenue. Then iterate, iterate, iterate.