Another Phase Three activity that really helps boost revenue (and serve customers better) is to be prepared to cross sell, up sell or down sell. (And to be sure your team is prepared to do this, as well!)

cross sell, up sell, down sell

Do your salespeople have the flexibility to cross sell, up sell and down sell? Or are they stuck to a one-size-fits all solution and sell like robots?

The world is full of order-takers these days. Even aggressive salespeople seem to “stick to the script” and have very little flexibility to really solve problems for customers – they just want to sell the specific product they’re charged with selling.

A salesperson (we’ll call him “Steve’) called recently offering a new software package. I normally don’t waste time with inbound sales calls, but this person told me there had been some amazing breakthroughs in social media metrics and technology, so of course I wanted to find out what those were.

We had an extensive conversation, in which I learned a few things I didn’t know, but of course, the call kept coming down to: “Let’s sign a contract and get you started.”

Fine, as far as it goes, but I had questions that he couldn’t answer. The software he was selling made some very cool looking reports, but it appeared to be missing some other features that I am much more interested in. (At least Steve didn’t know about them.)

He talked around, under, over, and through my questions, but didn’t answer them. (My assumption? This is because the product doesn’t do what I would want it to.) I told him more than once that unless the software served the needs I had, it wasn’t worth the price he was asking.

In any case, I got a couple of follow-up emails and calls in which he also, very articulately, failed to answer my questions and reiterated the same offer. So, my short-lived relationship with Steve gradually petered out.

Could he have saved the sale, given his current offerings? I don’t know. But if he had tried a cross sell, up sell or down sell technique, he might have had better success.

Affluent, mass-affluent, and business to business (B2B) customers (all of which we have in aviation marketing) have much less patience for the “robotic order takers” than the public at large. Successful cross selling, up selling and down selling is really a matter of listening to your customer and creating as much of a custom solution as you can based on what he or she actually needs.

Cross Selling

The classic example of cross selling is the cashier at the fast food place asking – “Do you want fries with that?”

A good percentage of people will answer “sure, why not” adding to the cost (and calories!) of their meal, so the average transaction size increased, and revenue increased even if they had the same number of transactions.

How is this relevant to aviation marketing?

Here’s an example:

For an MRO organization – the owner of a KingAir calls to schedule an annual inspection and some minor repair work. You ask:

“Do you often fly in cold weather? Are there occasions when your plane has to sit outside the hangar for any length of time in a cold environment?”

If the answer is yes,

“We recommend a preheat system to reduce engine wear and improve safety. If you’ve considered getting one, it is less expensive if we add that to the inspection and other work we’re doing, since it’s already here and we already have the cowlings off. Is that something you’ve thought about doing?” . . .

Up Selling

Up selling basically means selling more products and services (or more expensive products and services) to your current customers. What we’re NOT talking about is “bait and switch” selling, where you misrepresent an offer in an advertisement for the purpose of selling someone a more expensive product or service.

This only works when it’s also in the best interest of the customer. As an example, you own a charter company. You have a charter customer (Frank) that flies with you regularly, and you know that he also flies with your competitors from time to time. You could mention in a conversation-

“You know, Frank, as much as you fly, it might save you some money to participate in our jet card or fractional program. Would you be interested in learning more about that?”

If Frank is interested, you’ve just acquired more of his business and given him a better deal.

Down Selling

Down selling is the opposite – selling a product that is LESS expensive than what he originally thought he wanted.

This doesn’t sound like a good idea, but because we have a limited number of real prospects in the aviation industry, it behooves us to treat them very well.

In our example, you are an aircraft broker, and you have a client, Pat, who has hired you to acquire an aircraft for her company, and she’s convinced she wants a Gulfstream VI. After your initial analysis, you discover that she has the funds to acquire the aircraft but it would be difficult to fund its maintenance and operation.

Do you sell her the GVI? Not without doing your level best to talk her out of it. You spend the time talking about alternatives and reasons “less airplane” would be a better fit for her current needs.

Factors to consider:

In each case, the key factors for cross selling, up selling or down selling are these:

  • What does the customer really want or need? Do your salespeople really listen or do they make assumptions and jump to conclusions?
  • What does your company offer (or can it get from trusted partners and suppliers) that serve their needs better than your standard product?
  • If your product (or some combination products and services you can offer) isn’t an ideal solution, do you have relationships so that you can make appropriate referrals?

When we do our Sales Orchestration mystery calls, we often provide an opening for a cross sell or up sell technique, to see if the salesperson sees the opportunity. Honestly, most do not; unless they’ve been working with us for awhile and have done some role-playing and are comfortable with the techniques.

They are worth the trouble of learning! Here’s why:

How you benefit:

  • More sales!
  • More revenue!
  • More happy customers!
  • Fewer inappropriate sales!
  • Fewer returns, chargebacks and customer service headaches!
  • Happy referral partners!
  • A better reputation in the industry!