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Driving More Business from Existing Customers

For any company that has more than one product or service, the best sales opportunities often lie in cross-selling different lines to existing customers. This is often overlooked, but there is a simple tool you can use to focus attention on this important area and identify the success the company is having cross-selling.  The tool is a cross-selling opportunity grid which the company should produce and review on a regular basis.

It can be easily be put together in an Excel spreadsheet that shows the customers on the left and the different business lines across the top. You use it by putting an X in every box where you have sold a product or service to a customer, and it then shows the gaps where opportunity may lay.

The cross-selling opportunity grid when set up will look something like this:

Putting this together takes a bit of work. It is worth the effort as it can show you where to concentrate some sales efforts to capture what may well be some low hanging fruit you have overlooked. The process works as follows:

Start with your customers, as this is the easiest information to put together.  If you run a list of all customers in the last 12 months in descending dollar volume, then it probably makes most sense to start by looking at the top 30 customers, as these will all fit on one landscaped Excel printout.

It may make sense to do this on a lot more customers, but if you do then it is probably as well to do them in bands of 30 assembled on the same basis of descending dollar value.  At the bottom end, you may simply choose to track customers you think have potential to buy more products or services from you.

Where it becomes more complicated is when you add products and services into the mix.  The best way to do this is to start by looking at all of the different sales categories you have in your accounting system, as that is probably a good indication of what you regard your existing billable lines to be.

You can always refine it as you go along, and it is a good opportunity to review your products and services.  It is usually more effective to put the core business on the left and then arrange the rest in their order of gross profit contribution and sales difficulty.

As you look at them, you will obviously identify that some of these have a lot more potential than others. On an ongoing basis you can use the results to identify:

  1. Core customers to target to sell ancillary business.
  2. Ancillary customers to target for your core business
  3. Whether your ancillary businesses are really contributing to the success of your core business and vice versa.

You may get a strategic “Aha” from that analysis but at a minimum you get information to drive your sales plan.

On a regular basis (at least quarterly), identify all customers to whom you have sold anything within that period and fill in the grid. You can simply put an X (as shown in the example above) or you can enter the dollar amount for any sales recorded and use the information to drive your salespeople and your incentive compensation plan.     

The cross-selling gaps on the chart will immediately become visually apparent and you can identify where the best opportunities may lie.  At its simplest, this will help you identify and target all your existing customers who are potential but untapped customers for other services. You can also use it for historic customers to whom you may be able to sell additional products and services.

At its most complex, it is a management tool that will help you identify whether the model is working and proactively develop specific sales targets for your sales focus.