You’ve reached your first revenue milestone once a customer makes the initial purchase. But your sales opportunity doesn’t end here — it’s just beginning. While products sold are a great way to measure revenue, there’s so much more potential beyond this initial transaction.
Cross-selling is a term that gets thrown around a lot in business, but do you know exactly what it means to cross-sell?
Cross-selling is the concept of encouraging a customer to purchase additional products in conjunction with the primary product. This is critical and very powerful in the subscription business model, where recurring revenue is the goal.
What is Upselling?
Millions of dollars are wasted every year because of the inability of salespeople and other customer-facing staff to upsell effectively. A lack of precise questioning on the value of a product often leads to costly, low-quality purchases that never even get used.
Upselling is a strategy focused on encouraging these purchases through improved and enhanced products, but it can be challenging to pursue. Your first business sale was only part of the way towards financial growth; you must now do everything possible to ensure that customers will return for upgrades and add-ons. Here is where upselling comes into play.
But take note – The idea behind an effective upsell is to build rapport with clients and show your expertise so that they understand you’re suitable for their needs.
What is a Renewal?
A renewal sale, or a repurchase conversation (“repurchase” only if it is the same product/service), occurs when a customer has a question, concern, or issue needing resolution.
The challenge is that customers will likely not come directly to you with a renewal question unless they have some form of complaint, issue, or problem. A renewal discussion often occurs at the right time. There are five primary categories of renewals — based on the date when the existing contract expires –, and each can be handled differently based on the company policy and sales strategy.
For anything you sell (SaaS, recurring billing, etc.), renewal conversations constitute a significant component of any sales strategy.
One Thing in Common
Salespeople are constantly using different strategies to find leads. This can be limiting, though, since new sales reps may not have the tools they need to find leads. Enter outbound marketing: one of the best tactics you can use to reach leads and generate new business. Using this method, you’ll be able to get prospects and stay on their radar intelligently.
The best salespeople always reach out to their leads and existing customers to stay connected and make sure they’re both happy with the deal they’ve struck. The more they build that relationship, the easier it’ll be to find that next opportunity together – an upgrade, an expansion of services, or a renewal.
Sales, like any other profession, is a game of numbers. Hopefully, you already have your sales machine in place and are starting to see sales trickle in for your product or service. The next step is to build a stronger team to handle these incoming sales and help you reach even higher numbers. Renewals, upsells, and cross-sells are highly effective at achieving this goal.
Outbound sales sequences are a foundational component of an outbound sales strategy. Think of them as your digital playbooks: you create the structure that guides how your team initiates and closes new business opportunities.
How to Analyze and Improve Your Outbound Sales Sequences
Sales sequences are among the most potent tools that outbound sales teams use to close deals and provide value to potential clients. Sales sequences allow reps to execute predictable, consistent workflows. But not all sales teams are using outbound sales sequences — many still rely on organic email outreach, cold call/cold email, or general best practices. This can result in wasted time, missed opportunities, and unsatisfied customers.
Your Targets Should Be Clear and Defined from the Get-Go
Your outbound sales strategy is only as good as your target.
So what makes an outbound sales sequence successful? It all comes down to knowing your target audience. Your target for each sequence should be either a persona, industry or specific company. Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s easier to tailor your messaging and get them excited about using your product. You’ll also be able to create a consistent tone that resonates with them.
If you can’t define your target audience clearly, it’s impossible for any of this to work. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, how will you know how to sell them?
The amount of time and effort you put into your outbound sales sequences depends on who you’re targeting. Your sequence may last longer if you’re targeting a VP-level persona, and you may need to manually touch the lead more often than you would a lower-level persona.
In other words, the more critical your target customer is to your business, the longer your outbound sales sequence should be. The longer the sequence, the more chances to make an impression on your target customer before they become part of your company.
A/B Testing is Crucial to Success
Do you know how your outbound sales sequences are performing?
If you’re not testing, then you’re flying blind. And we all know that flying blind is a bad idea when trying to land a plane full of passengers!
Why? Because even the best product in the world won’t be able to sell itself if the sales sequence is poorly written and structured.
There’s a reason why the best-selling products don’t use generic email templates: they know that it’s not just about writing copy that’s good enough but also about writing copy that converts.
That’s where A/B testing comes in. By running A/B tests on your emails, you’ll be able to learn what works best for your audience and what doesn’t work at all. You’ll also be able to see which versions are most effective at getting signups or sales from customers who have given their contact information in exchange for information about your product or service.
You might think that having a great product is enough, but if no one knows who you are or what you do—let alone cares—then how will anyone buy from you?
Use the “Right” Mix of Sequences
As you’re reviewing your sequences, make sure you look at the types of steps involved in your email and call sequences. Some sequences lend themselves to more calls, while others are email-heavy.
But no matter what sequence type you’re reviewing, make sure you have a mix of step types. This is what makes sellers appear authentic and genuine to buyers. And that quality, in turn, ups the likelihood of a response and builds rapport.
When building out your outbound sales sequences, make sure you have a mix of step types.
It’s easy to think that all you need is an email. But if your buyer is expecting a call or LinkedIn message, they’ll be disappointed and annoyed when you don’t deliver on the expectation you set. This will hurt your chances of getting a response and building rapport with the buyer.
So what does it mean to have a good mix of step types?
Let’s say your sequence has three steps: email, call, and LinkedIn touch. If those are your only three steps, it might be time to add something else there! If this is true for you, think about what kinds of calls would work best in this case—maybe two emails followed by two calls? Or perhaps a series of emails followed by one call and then another email?
Consider Adding More Steps to Your Sequences
Yes, you can add another step to your outbound sales sequence.
If you’re following a sequential sales process, you can use the same logic to determine when to add more steps.
The reply rate for each step will tell you how well your target audience is receiving your product and give you insight into where they’re getting hung up. If your first step has a low reply rate, then it’s likely that people aren’t interested in what you have to offer. If the second step has a low reply rate and the third step has a high reply rate, then it’s possible that people are interested but don’t know how they can get started with what you’re offering. And if all three steps have high reply rates, then it means that people are ready to buy!
If you want to increase your sales success rates, try adding another step and see how much impact it has on your overall reply rates.
Note: It’s easy to feel like you should keep adding steps to your outbound sales sequence. You want to be sure that you’ve exhausted all possible resources, right?
But what if adding another step doesn’t help?
It’s tempting to add another step to your outbound sales sequence because it seems like it could help—and it might! But you also have to consider the cost of doing so.
Every time you add a new step, there are associated costs: time spent creating and refining the content and time spent running A/B tests on the content (if applicable). It increased the cost for each contact who will receive the additional message.
So before you start adding more steps, look at how many contacts are still clicking through from your last step (or from the first step). If their click-through rate is still high, go ahead and tack on an additional step if you think it might help! If their click-through rate has dropped significantly, you can feel confident that you’ve exhausted all resources and won’t see any gains from adding additional steps.
Change the Focus of Your Language
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “outbound sales?”
If you’re like most people, it’s probably “pushy” or “annoying.” But if that were true, why would we keep doing it? Why would companies spend so much time, energy, and money on outbound sales when all they get in return is a bad rap?
Because it works.
The truth is that inbound sales—when your customers come to you—aren’t enough anymore. With so many options for customers to find what they want (and for them to do it without talking to anyone), it’s no wonder that inbound sales have become less effective than ever before. That’s why outbound sales have taken over: because they work! They get your potential buyers’ attention in ways that other techniques don’t.
The key is not being pushy or annoying; instead, it’s helpful. Your buyer doesn’t care about how great your company is, how many awards you’ve won, or how great your product is. They care about how you can make their job easier and make their business more money.
Do you ever wonder why your outbound sales sequences don’t seem to be as effective as they should be?
It’s not your product. It’s not your salespeople. It’s not even the market.
It’s all about the buyer.
No matter how great those things might be, your buyers aren’t interested in hearing about you or your company. They want to know how you can make their job easier and how you can help their business make more money.
So what does this mean for your sales process? It means that it’s time for an overhaul! You need to start making it about THEM, not YOU, from the very beginning of your outbound sales process until the end.
Sales professionals have always used storytelling to persuade and inspire. Abraham Lincoln used advertising stories to speak out against slavery with the help of the newspaper. Mary Kay Ash took part in personal development classes through storytelling.
Today, salespeople and other professionals rely on marketing stories for different purposes such as sharing tips, inspiring, or even persuading customers. Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that Facebook was initially built because he wanted people to share their stories.
Have you ever had a salesperson tell you how good a product or service was, and it just left you cold? You’ve heard the story before from another seller — the same features, the same benefits, the same story — and decided to buy from someone else.
I’m not interested in telling you that my product will save your business $10,000 per month. I’d rather show you. This is the mindset you should always have when making your pitch.
How To Craft Stories That Sell
#1: Create a connection powered by relevance
Stories have the ability to create a connection between your audience and what you are trying to sell. It should be based on real-life experiences and not be theoretical or too much in the future.
For example, if you’re selling advertising space for a website, don’t talk about how great it would be to have an unlimited supply of targeted traffic. Tell them what happened when your client ran out of targeted traffic and couldn’t afford to pay their bills.
If you sell medical insurance, tell them about a client who lost her job due to an illness and had no way to pay her medical bills.
If you sell financial services, tell them how you were able to help someone get out of debt or plan for retirement by using those products.
#2: Compel through concrete storytelling
When we tell stories, we’re not just recounting events — we’re building connections. A story is a way of showing the kind of person you are and the values you hold.
When you tell a story, you’re doing more than just sharing an experience — you’re creating an emotional connection with the other person. And when they connect with you, they see themselves in your story and realize that they can relate to it as well.
To make your stories memorable, use concrete details.
In order to make your stories more powerful and compelling, you need to be able to tell them from different angles. That’s why most people have a hard time telling good stories. They can only think about one angle at a time.
But when you understand how stories work on multiple levels, you can change your perspective on any given story and see it from many different angles. This will help you make your stories better and more engaging for your audience.
#3: Honesty is still the best policy
Storytelling is an art form that can be used to connect with your audience, create a sense of community, and prompt them to take action.
The best sales stories are simple, authentic, and memorable. They’re told in a way that feels natural and relatable to the listener.
Stories help you connect with your customers on a deeper level by getting inside their heads and making them feel something genuine — empathy, excitement, or even fear.
But too many salespeople fall into the trap of using canned or trite phrases when they try to tell a story. This makes it harder for listeners to relate to what you’re saying because it doesn’t sound like something they would actually say.
A great way to illustrate concepts or processes is by using examples from your own life or from other people’s lives. For example, if you’re selling software that helps businesses track their inventory, talk about how this software has helped other businesses reduce costs because they didn’t have to ship out extra inventory when they sold out of a particular item. Or if you’re selling an online course on personal finance management, share stories about how people have been able to pay down debt by setting up savings accounts for emergencies and sticking to their budgets.
#4: Tell your story with flair
Storytelling is about more than just telling a tale; it’s about sharing an experience that connects with the audience. And this is how you get customers to buy from you: by making them feel something.
So if you want to be an effective salesman, be an effective storyteller first!
Here are some storytelling techniques that will help you sell like a pro:
Use vivid details
Tell stories that reflect your audience’s concerns (and not yours)
Create characters with whom people can empathize
Focus on what matters most to your audience
Storytelling is an art form that engages people at an emotional level — it’s not just about facts and figures. It’s about connecting with people as human beings who have problems they want to be solved or desires they want to be fulfilled. When you tell stories in your presentations, you make yourself approachable as a person instead of just another vendor trying to sell something.
Alternatively, use analogies and metaphors to explain complex concepts more clearly.
Storytelling is an ancient art form.
It’s been around for thousands of years and has been used to tell all kinds of stories. The Bible, for example, is full of stories about people’s lives, struggles, and triumphs. Ancient Greek mythology is full of tales about gods and goddesses. And today, we are still telling stories through books, movies, television shows, and more.
But storytelling isn’t just for entertainment purposes — it can be a powerful tool in business as well. If you haven’t already realized this, then you need to start incorporating storytelling into your sales process immediately!
Pop quiz: What’s the sales tactic with the highest ROI?
It’s neither email campaigns nor PPC ads. It’s not social media marketing, and it’s definitely not cold calls.
The correct answer is asking for referrals.
Referrals work because people are more likely to purchase products that are endorsed by people whom they actually know and trust. According to a Harvard Business Review article, “ 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.”
Those are impressive numbers, especially when you take into consideration the declining success rates of cold calling and email marketing. What’s even better is that asking for referrals doesn’t entail spending money.
Why Do People Trust Referrals?
Sales referrals leverage the goodwill between the referred customer and the person making the referral. A referred prospect will be quicker to trust you and your product because they trust the person who referred them to you. And since they are more confident that you can deliver, they will move through the purchasing process faster than cold opportunities.
In fact, according to a 2015 Heinz Marketing survey of over 600 B2B sales and marketing leaders, 69 percent of respondents said that referral leads close faster than non-referral leads, while 71 percent of respondents said that referrals have a higher closing rate compared to leads from other sources.
This probably has to do with buyers’ wariness of traditional sales tactics, which could come off as pushy and self-serving. The shift to social selling—using social media platforms to research leads, prospect, and provide insightful content—allowed sellers to build relationships in a less hard-sell manner, proving their value until customers are ready to purchase.
So why doesn’t it seem like salespeople are using referrals to their advantage?
Perhaps they just don’t know how to ask for referrals properly.
Building Your Sales Referral Strategy
1. Time it right
“Referrals need to be a process as much as prospecting is a process,” says Amar Sheth, Sales for Life’s COO. “It should be done when a customer has crossed a certain lifetime value with you—for instance, customers that have been using your solution for 6 months or 3 months, or whatever term you think is appropriate.”
It’s important that sellers first demonstrate their value before asking a customer for a referral; otherwise, they could come off as self-serving. But at the same time, don’t wait to pounce until it’s too late and the excitement over your product has run out. You need to strike when your happy customers are still buzzing about your product and how great it is.
2. Be precise
As much as possible, don’t leave it up to the customer to decide whom they’ll introduce you to.
“Traditionally, B2B salespeople, when they ask for referrals, they’re asking the customer to determine who they should be introduced to,” says Sheth. “That’s actually very dangerous, and it’s not a smart thing because the customer has to now think about it, which means that there’s a high likelihood that this request may not even be fulfilled.”
Use social tools like LinkedIn to check their sphere of influence to see who they’re connected to. This lets you ask for strategic and surgical referrals, allowing you to enter and penetrate accounts of your choice instead of being at your customer’s mercy.
3. Use referral templates
Having templated emails ready allows you to ask for referrals quickly in a polite and professional manner.
Here’s an email template you can use for your customer advocates:
Dear [name of advocate],
I hope you're doing well!
I’m so glad to hear that our [work/service/product] has been working so well for you and your team. I knew that by working together, we’d be able to drive significant impact for [their company].
You’ve been a great advocate for [your company], and I would greatly appreciate if you could recommend us to any/all of the following people:
1. Jamie Shanks from Sales for Life
2. [Name of person you’d like to be introduced to] from [company]
3. [Name of person you’d like to be introduced to] from [company]
I’d love to help them achieve the same results you’ve gotten.
Thank you so much in advance!
Asking for referrals is one of the simplest ways to generate new business. But while referrals have a higher success rate, don’t expect immediate results—these things can take time as your referred prospects might not need your product or service at the moment. Qualify these opportunities carefully.
In the meantime, keep building value, and have your account executives check in with your advocates and prospects to see how they’re doing. And don’t hesitate to ask your advocates if they know anyone who could benefit from your services—you’ll never know unless you ask!
Today I was with a Global 50 conglomerate’s learning and development (L&D) team talking about making the big plunge into digital sales. The sales team has been selling face-to-face in nearly 100% of their accounts – at the detriment of a bloated CAC (Cost of Customer Acquisition). As their L&D team puts it “we’re spending thousands to make thousands from many of our customers – it’s counter-productive”. This digital sales transformation is about to become a sweeping, universal change for the company. We’re talking about 1,000’s of sales professionals moving from 100% face-to-face, to 80% inside & 20% face-to-face with key accounts. I decided to write this blog from the voice of the customers and their key concerns about this transition.
Sales for Life was founded with one goal – to become the most trusted sales resource for its customers. During our journey, we’ve had the privilege of serving thousands of sales professionals and leaders around the world, from start-ups to Fortune 50 corporations.