Successful agents and advisors have long used cross-selling to offer additional products and services to their existing clients. When done properly, cross-selling often results in increased sales revenue and higher rates of client retention and satisfaction.
Several financial professionals recently shared some of the steps that financial professionals can take to successfully cross-sell their products and services.
Link up with specialists in other areas. Million Dollar Round Table member David Appel of Appel Insurance Advisors said that financial professionals should align themselves with specialists in other fields and make sure that their centers of influence know the different areas they work in.
Financial professionals should also cross-train their staff members with enough knowledge that they can recognize opportunities and can speak enough to open the door for them, the “specialists.”
In addition, he said, advisors should think about taking a team-selling approach, depending on how many people are in their office. They should add the cross-selling opportunity to their agenda whenever they meet with their clients and do their homework to determine whether the company or individual can benefit from that opportunity.
Finally, financial professionals should not speak ill about a prospect’s existing advisor or agent since they really don’t know the relationship they have with them, and whether that relationship is favorable. “This will not put you in the best light,” Appel said.
Discuss life insurance with pre-retirees and retirees. Damon S. Winter, an MDRT member and a financial planner at OnMark Asset Management, said that one important area of cross-selling is to discuss life insurance with those consumers who are in or near retirement.
Although this may seem counterintuitive, Winter said, retirees who have pension plans may want to consider life insurance as a spousal income replacement instead of electing spousal-survivor benefits via the pension plan.
Additionally, it’s important to counsel retirees that a surviving spouse will lose the smallest of the couple’s Social Security benefits upon a spouse’s passing, which could leave a significant shortfall in required monthly income for the survivor. “Life insurance can shore up this shortfall,” he said.
Conduct regular reviews. Young Pham’s advice for financial professionals who want to successfully cross-sell their products and services is to conduct regular reviews of their clients’ financial portfolios to identify gaps or opportunities where additional products or services could provide value to them. “Present these suggestions as part of a holistic financial strategy,” said Pham, who is a business, finance and accounting professional at BizReport.
In addition, Pham said, financial professionals should tailor their recommendations to each client’s unique financial goals, risk tolerance, and life stage and show their clients how the products they have cross-sold align with their individual needs.
Advisors should also stay informed about their clients’ life events, such as marriage, birth of a child, retirement, and use these milestones as opportunities to get in touch with them and introduce relevant products or services that can support their changing needs.
Finally, they should use real-life case studies to illustrate how the products and services they have cross-sold to other clients have benefited them. “Concrete examples can help clients visualize the value they can gain,” Pham said.
Like Pham, Troy Korsgaden, principal of Korsgaden International, recognizes the critical role client reviews can play in cross-selling. As he pointed out, the client annual review is one of the most effective yet most overlooked opportunities for cross-selling.
Korsgaden said most households have at least 10 sales opportunities, and the annual review is the perfect time to identify them. Much can change in a year, he said. “Meeting with your clients in person to review their policies will help to ensure they have the best possible coverage at the best possible price, which increases client satisfaction and retention. At the same time, you can identify new needs and potential sales opportunities,” he added.
Korsgaden does not advise selling any products or services during the annual review. “If you turn the review into a sales meeting, clients won’t want to come in for a review the following year,” he said. Instead, he uses a product-spectrum sheet that lists all the products and services offered and asks clients to circle those items in which they are the most interested. He then uses that information to schedule follow-up meetings and customized marketing communications for clients.
Make use of a retooling day
Another important cross-selling opportunity is to conduct a retooling day, which is a high-energy, focused way for financial professionals to contact clients to say thanks, show their appreciation for their business, and update their profiles in their database, according to Korsgaden. “Along the way,” he said, “you will discover many new business opportunities. By dedicating a day to contacting your clients, you will gather more client information, which leads to more appointments and ultimately more sales.”
Across the country, firms and agencies that have implemented a retooling day report solid sales results and strong client interest in a wide variety of products, Korsgaden said. “Our research shows that clients who are contacted more frequently place more policies with a business and are less likely to shop around or change companies,” he said.
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial-services industry. She formerly served as Editor-In-Chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at amseka@INNfeedback.com.
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