Coaching the Up-Sell Conversation

Corporate Visions, a leading sales skills company that uses decision making science previously commissioned a study on how to shake prospective customers’ status quo bias to persuade them to consider your products or services. The firm also has explored how to encourage existing customers to renew their relationships, which requires reinforcement of their bias toward the status quo.

 The latest round of research shows

The up-sell dialogue is different (than persuasion and renewal conversations) yet requires some of each from these two message types to be effective.

 There’s most importantly:

  • a relationship or partnership reinforcement aspect to the message,
  • but there’s also some provocation involved with getting existing customers to make the change to upgraded solutions 

 Most Sales Organizations are Not Quite There

Up-selling to existing customers was “important” or “very important” to their ability generate more revenue, said 87 percent of the participants in the recent Corporate Visions survey. Only 60 percent were satisfied with how many customers they were able to sway and how fast they could convert them.

 winning message, according to the report, centers around five pillars (or coaching / teaching moments):

  • Document results – what is going well with the current product deployment.
  • Highlight evolving pressures – where might the customer get stuck in the future.
  • Share hard truths – have those “challenger like” discussions.
  • Explain risks of no change – just as in a new sale, the up-sell conversation breaks status-quo as well.
  • Showcase upside opportunities – leverage your business case resources and customer success stories.

 The best up-sell message — as validated by CVI research:

  1. employs some components of a customer retention story
  2. looks to affirm and solidify the partnership by documenting the success to date
  3. identifies the deep relationships that have been established

 This provides the positive, relational foundation for sharing evolving pressures and hard truths that are creating the need to evolve, as well as identifying the risks associated with not making a change.

These types of messages are environment neutral and would be effective both in a traditional people-to-people selling environment and an e-commerce transactional environment.

This interesting study did not involve live salespeople.

The study participants included 426 individuals placed in hypothetical business-to-business decision-making scenarios. The participants simply responded to a variety of messages and were observed in these responses.

 Key Leadership Takeaways

Spark FLIP’D coaching conversations with your sales rep’s and pressure test your up-sell presentations to ensure all the key components of the up-sell message are included.

Finally, Practice, practice and practice even more; these messages in team meetings or simulated selling motions.