Cross-industry selling is an important consideration for any truly ambitious brokerage
I’ve never had any formal training in sales; nor would I ever consider myself as a salesman. But looking back at the last 5 years or more of my working life, I’ve probably spent half of my time pushing the services and products provided by my employer and indeed – more recently – my own business.
But is it really ‘selling’ if the deliverable you’re providing is something you truly believe in? 2 years ago I was selling 6-figure consulting services to major private equity firms and banks. I’m not saying it was easy, but believing in the capabilities of my team of faithful analysts meant I was simply offering a service which I knew would give value to the client at a price which represented value (particularly as the services we were providing led to oil & gas industry buyouts or even IPOs).
As a fledgling software provider, when we were pitching the first versions of our service offering, we were actually selling our vision of where the software would be 3, 6 or 12 months later. With honesty and transparency as two of our key principles highlighted in our sales & marketing plan, the passion and belief in what we had created (and how it was going to evolve) meant I simply needed to state the facts to potential customers rather than needing to concoct any real sales tactic or dream up any captivating subtext.
Simply put; are you really in sales if your belief in the product enables it to sell itself?
But a singular product is rarely all that is in on offer. Why sell cars without offering finance? Why sell a house without offering conveyancing? Cross-selling products and services offered by your company and its partner companies can make the difference between a stable business and a profitable business that truly flourishes.
And why can’t the art of cross-selling cross industry boundaries too? If your sales team is already speaking to a decision maker looking to save money on energy, why not explore other options in telecoms, water, stationary? The hard work is done in reaching the person in charge. Use the opportunity whilst you have it!
In the utilities industry, it’s largely cut and dry. A large proportion of the UK’s brokers have a sole focus on pushing energy – electricity and gas. Procurement only. Others offer a range of additional services – new connections, energy management are two examples. But very few really step up to access parallel industries – telecoms being a prime example.
Now don’t get me wrong, industry specialism is important, of course, but investing time in partnerships in other sectors can expand the horizons of a business and provide lucrative revenue streams. Providing water, telecom or other business services either in-house or through a JV can allow you to de-polarise your business and leverage yourself to other exciting growth sectors. And it works the other way round too – as a pure-play energy broker, referrals from other industries could (and should) be fundamental to introducing new customers to your team.
With deregulation of water leading to potential opportunities over the next few years, and the huge growth in VOIP telecoms creating exciting new opportunities; it’s important never to stand still. Diversity could be the driving force behind your company’s future success.