You’ll get to know your colleagues or clients in much more detail and meet some cool people along the way.
When we brainstorm with colleagues about their approach to business development, one of the most common starting points is to analyze the services and profiles from their competitors and peers. They’ll start asking questions like:
We call this approach, “Externally Oriented Business Development” because you’re identifying opportunities based on external parties and strategies. While this approach is certainly valid and should not be overlooked, we’d like to challenge it as the first place by looking at what we call “Internally Oriented Business Development”, or simply cross-selling.
We believe there are often greater opportunities that can be found by looking within the firm or organization, which additionally, are almost always overlooked. Why? The easiest answer is companies do not invest enough in ‘Internal Networking’.
So how does internal networking promote cross-selling?
Instead of looking at what other opportunities or external connections are doing to build new clients and referrals, find ways to better leverage the opportunities that can be generated through internal connections. The company should learn to optimize the set of internal relationships established from standard day-to-day business practices and interaction between colleagues, within the company walls.
Why is this approach a better starting point?
Many reasons, but most importantly is accessibility. Looking at external factors, again, while effective, can be very difficult and take a ton of time.
For example, if you want to connect with all of the external connections that your competition is getting referrals from, you first need to do some deep research, then identify the parties worth an outreach attempt, not to forget the process of building these relationships.
Most often, the outreach attempt will fail because the person you’re contacting doesn’t know you yet, or does not have sufficient reason to build a sales relationship with your organization or firm.
If you look internally first, cross-selling based on the employees of your own organization, you can pick off some interesting opportunities in our opinion, much faster.
The most difficult part is finding the low-hanging fruit and hidden opportunities. However, this is more fun and certainly more productive, since business owners can engage their entire staff to promote their business and generate more leads to the business.
Let’s look at some examples of what we’re talking about, which might help get the ideas flowing for your specific company and industry:
1. Create an Internal Positioning Statement
In order for employees to create more cross-selling for your business while networking internally, they first must be educated on what to communicate to their network.
Each department needs to communicate a business relevance pitch explaining the main 3 reasons why customers should want to do business with your organization [or even more specific – your department within the organization]. With this in hand, employees will be better able to present their department strengths to colleagues inside (and outside) the company.
How do you know if your statement is good enough?
Let’s us suggest a simple rule – a good positioning statement makes the other person you’re speaking with want to learn more about your department.
Here is the interesting fact – If everyone in the company is communicating aligned statements, you can be confident that potential clients will get a very good impression of your organization [which will help in it’s turn to get more leads and clients].
Needless to mention that internal statement for stimulating internal cross-selling, helps company morale, because employees are getting excited about what they’re doing and have a clear understanding of the role that they can play — that’s the key to success!
2. Initiate a Special Internal Networking Training
Internal networking facilitates building relationships within the company and is the foundation of successful cross selling.
Holding specialized internal networking training sessions can get employees comfortable with learning to connect with each other, something they might not know about. Too often employees only speak to colleagues in the same department or floor, either because they do not recognize the value of internal networking or do not feel comfortable doing it. In either case, an internal networking training can help.
We dearly believe that by training your employees about the business side of cross-selling you will achieve an effective form of empowerment of your employees. Thus, the employees will be able to spot new lead generation opportunities.
3. Develop a Structured Referral Program
Did you ever think about the possibility to include your employees in an organization referral program?
We suggest you develop a referral program that encompasses both employees and clients for successful referrals. It does not have to be so complicated, keep it simple. For example, if one of your employees refers a new client or initiates a new cross-selling opportunity, the organization can reward him or her with a gift certificate or even with a special appraisal in front of the whole staff or some extra vacation day. It may also be useful to consider rewards proportional to the sale secured for larger clients.
4. Leverage and Build Your Employees’ Internal Networks
Organizations should find ways to support the development of their employee’s internal networks. It can be done in different ways offline and online.
In addition to mutual projects, encouraging employees to join internal committees or bodies within the organization is a great way to cultivate solid, face-to-face relationships.
Employees are more likely to seek out new business when they feel like a respected asset to your organization or firm. Likewise, employees are more likely to offer cross-selling opportunities to internal colleagues when they know and trust one another. Getting everyone involved in internal networking within the organization is essential to the growth of your business and the enrichment of your most fundamental asset — your staff.
Where to Start?
The best place to start is to just talking within your company with your colleagues. My go-to contacts and the first place to start are usually employees that have been with the organization for a long time, or that are the most connected.
To easily build upon these connections, simply invite these colleagues out to lunch or for a coffee. It will create a comfortable environment of sharing, helping, and connecting.
The most difficult thing about looking for existing real-world cross-selling opportunities within your company walls is to simply find out what your company is doing.
We are positive that this process of cross selling via internal networking is more productive and less fearful than external business development. You’ll get to know your colleagues or clients in much more detail and meet some cool people along the way.
Do you want to promote more internal cross-selling within your organization or firm? What if we tell you that we have a special program that can help you facilitate it? Get in touch if you want to learn more and get some ’short-cuts’ 🙂
By: Itzik Amiel, Bestselling Author of ‘The Attention Switch’; Founder & CEO, Power Networking Academy & Michael Soto, Co-Founder of Spark Collaboration