Sales tips, leadership communication skills insight and more from Steve Giglio, sales training professional for more than 25 years.

Relationally Cross-Selling

My last blog focused on the “WHY” of cross-selling, this blog focuses on the “HOW.”

Always remember cross-selling is good business. It credentials you as an advisor, not a vendor. Someone is going to sell this service to your client, the question is, will it be you?

Even if it ultimately isn’t you, you’ve still shown your commercial empathy and prescience by offering the service you’ve recommended.

Here are some tips for developing business with your existing clients by cross-selling:

How to Cross-Sell

  • Create for your business the definition of a high-value customer
    • This is essential to govern your prospecting activity. By defining what a high-value customer is, you make the job of cross-selling easier by honing in on this customer profile. Then, your cross-selling activity can become repeatable and scalable for your BD Team.
  • Establish a cross-selling profile: What customers have needed these services in the past?
    • You and your company have a stable of clients, each of them using your services/products for different reasons. But are there commonalities? Are there certain types of clients that use the same services/products? Knowing this will help you segment your client base for much more effective cross-selling.
  • Determine who your best customers are that deserve this effort
    • Not all customers warrant cross-selling. If you’ve just started with them and haven’t established strong trust, give it time. Also, some are very narrow in their focus/vision so, they should not make your priority list, either. Those with whom you have developed a trusted adviser role are the ones that will likely be most receptive to your new ideas.
  • Decide on the service that is most accretive to their business
    • Never, ever assume your customer is going to know what they need. That’s your job! Assess each customer’s goals and determine what you can offer that will help them get there.
  • Pinpoint the executives you should offer this idea to
    • We’ve all done it…put a lot of effort into selling to one person only have the response be, “Sounds great but…I have to run this by some people first.” Who are those people? And when can YOU run it by them?
  • Schedule business reviews to reinforce your value, use probing questions to determine future challenges, then cross-sell
    • Before you try to sell them on a new idea…you have to understand how well you’re doing in the first place. Has your product/service met their expectations? Will it for the future? What new challenges are they facing that could be helped by a different part of your company’s offerings? Have this face-to-face (or Zoom to Zoom!) meeting regularly so that you can find opportunities to cross-sell.
  • Recommend a pilot program to initiate the process
    • You are addressing a new challenge with a new offering. Let them see it in action on a small scale. Their risk will be minimal and they’ll see how well your product/service addresses a key issue. It will help you cross-sell and create an internal advocate as your service is sold upstream within their company.

It’s often said that finding new customers is far more challenging than developing new business from existing ones. That’s true…if you have a plan for nurturing these relationships so that your cross-selling recommendations are trusted by your clients as being in their best interest. Follow the tips above to achieve that level of trust!

‘Tis the Season for Referrals!

Yikes! It’s April already!

One of my greatest coaches once said to me, “If you can’t see your year by June, you’ve lost the year”.

Even to this day when I remember him saying this, I still somewhat shudder. Yet, he was right!

Jumping Ahead to Recovery

Let’s look at 2021 pragmatically. All signs point to recovery either in Q3 or Q4. What this global realization means is that we’ll be somewhat back to our normal style of operations, albeit potentially in a hybrid manner, but for sure with the societal intention of face-to-face meetings!

That’s great news except, who are you gonna see?

Of course, you’ll be meeting with clients and constituents you’ve had commercial relationships with pre-COVID. The larger question is: where is your new business coming from in 2022?

New Business from Existing Client Equity

This is actually not as scary/daunting as you might think. What we’re speaking about is cross-selling and the opportunity to gain referrals from clients with whom you already have equity!

Said simply, this is the time to monetize your client’s value by recommending an additional product or service that’s accretive to their mission. As you build equity, you will:

  • Align your clients’ goals to your commercial goals
  • Strengthen your relationship
  • Illustrate your prescience
  • Drive trust
  • Potentially increase their spend

From there, you can manage the relationship in a way that gives them confidence in recommending your service/product internally or externally, thereby strengthening your long-term sales funnel.

In the great book, “The Trusted Advisor” by David Maister (please get it) he states: Existing customers generally give us the opportunity for an audience. They’ll hear us out. The deeper question, however, is whether they’ll engage and open up.

In my next blog, we’ll focus on HOW to accomplish this.


There’s Always Time to Differentiate

With so many distractions these days, from finding, then getting, the vaccine to staying true to all our Zoom/Teams calls to following up with colleagues and especially clients, who has time to differentiate themselves?



Don’t Dilute Your Personal Brand

You are unique. You have ideas no one else may ever have. You’re not a commodity, replaced easily by someone who bases their value on price, right? Of course you’re not. However, in these times when we are physically disconnected from clients, the trap of just “getting stuff done” and maintaining the basics is diluting our personal brands, that which differentiates us.

Each time I address this action with clients I also address it for myself. In a recent post, I wrote about the importance of being relational and declarative. Now, go the next step and make sure they understand that you are, simply, the best! And here are some tips to accomplish that goal:

Tips for Differentiation

  • Each call is special. As my father, a surgeon, said, “No two patients are the same. You never treat one the same as the other.” That’s so true with clients. Never treat them the same. On every call, they should feel like they are your ONLY client, even though they know it’s not true. Having them feel that way is good enough and creates a strong, unique connection.
  • Listen as though you’re wrong. I’m amazed at the level of curiosity I can have on any client call. I’m not on auto-pilot. I’m genuinely curious about someone’s life, what’s dear to them, and what I can learn from them. This way of interacting makes things so much more interesting…for both of us!
  • Deliver your recommendations as though they’re your last. Minus the drama of that statement, deliver your ideas/recommendations with heart and passion. You’ll be remembered for both!
  • Resolve questions/objections calmly. In high school, Ms. Lynn was my honors English teacher. The class was a challenge for me but as I watched her smooth, calm, focused delivery I actually took many of her behaviors with me to this day. Nothing phased her, no matter how exasperating our questions might have been. I’ve adopted that behavior and impart it to my clients, encouraging them to have a “no problem” attitude.
  • Be persistent, yet likable. There’s no substitute for this behavior. When you believe something is right for a client or someone on your team, stay in front of them with empathy and confidence.
  • Always think long-term. People who operate from a place of “I’ll get this one thing done to keep my client happy and off my back” usually wind up losing them. Steer your relationships as though you’ll be working with this person/client until you retire. You are in it for the long haul and they should know that.
  • Stay friends with everyone. Burnt bridges can never be crossed again. You’ve nurtured these relationships for a long time, right? Then why give them up, even if professionally they end. I have 20+ year friendships with former clients who I call upon often for input/insight…and they do the same with me. Even after we’ve stopped working together, I’m still differentiating myself by staying connected.

You are different. And you clients need to know that…and be reminded of it often. Use these tips to accomplish that goal. Let me know how it goes!

Being Relational and Declarative in This New Era

Now that we’ve all acclimated to our virtual world, it’s time to lead others in a relational declarative manner. I use these two words, relational and declarative very specifically. And here’s why.

Have you noticed that passion, heart, desire, and confidence get lost during a virtual call? Somehow there’s humanitarian dilution when you’re not face-to-face with a client. Get it back by mastering being relational and declarative. And it’s in that order.

Relational and Declarative Behavior

Being relational means that you understand, and have proven you understand, the goals and challenges of your client. The result is that they realize you fully empathize with their challenge.

Once you’ve built this relationship, one based on trust, you can then be declarative by delivering your recommendation is made clearly, confidently, and urgently. Because you’ve established trust, you can deliver these recommendations with the confidence of knowing that your client is open to hearing them.

Review How You’re Coming Across

So much of what we all are doing these days relies heavily on video technology to connect with clients. Have you taken the time to see how you’re coming across to them? Currently, I’m coaching a dozen clients in just this manner.

What has demonstrably helped is when they videotape themselves with me watching them deliver an upcoming internal/external recommendation. We analyze their delivery and often find several behaviors that dilute from the relational and declarative delivery they want.

To help them, and you, I’ve created the following list of recommendations that are a guide for how best to present yourself through the relatively new medium of video conferencing:

  • Avoid starting a thought with the non-word, “So”
  • Eliminate the non-words; “ah/um”, they make you sound tentative
  • Pause more in-between your thoughts to make your thoughts have more gravitas
  • Look into your camera NOT your screen. You must train yourself to play to your camera. This communicates your desire to connect
  • Initiate your idea/recommendation/data with an agenda. An agenda controls the conversation
  • Timeline you’re meeting. If you have thirty minutes and three topics you’ve got ten minutes per topic, don’t run over
  • Synthesize what others are saying to respect their ideas, then move to your next topic
  • Close your meeting with Who needs to do What and by When

Experiment with video recording yourself to check for these delivery inhibitors. When you review it, be sure to pay as much attention to how you are delivering your recommendation as you do to the recommendation itself!

Let me know how it goes.

Leadership Checklist for Covid Recovery

Over the past few blogs, I’ve spoken about comporting yourself with optimism and alacrity (a cheerful engagement in conversation).

In this post, let’s talk about your recovery-checklist.

We’ve all manically focused on keeping our respective businesses going since COVID-19 hit. It’s now time to focus on YOU, your internal/external brand, and the impact you and your brand are making.

Answer these questions to self-assess your preparedness for our eventual return to normalcy:

Checklist for Brand Recovery Post-Covid:

How actively am I participating in my organization’s conversations?

Participating is caring. It’s also a statement of vitality and responsibility. The more you engage, the more your team will.

How strategic have I been with my contributions or have I been too cautious?

This is mission-critical to our recovery! Your strategic input doesn’t have to be exact it’s got to be good enough to stimulate debate. It shows your thinking ahead, which is what everyone on your team should be doing.

How frequently am I communicating with my team?

Care, then care some more. You must show your concern or your team will assume the opposite. This isn’t “Have you completed that project?” dialogue. You should focus more on their well-being and state of mind as they navigate through these unprecedented times. “We’re nearly a year into this pandemic. Since it started, what’s gotten better for you? What’s gotten worse?”

Do they know my vision?

Your vision drives engagement and alignment. It becomes a rallying cry for others who can’t sort their own vision out yet. Some things to consider before you communicate your vision:

  1. Do I know how they’re doing relative to COVID?
  2. How strong is my emotional intelligence?
  3. Have I delegated work to my team that enhances the difference they make or have I taken too much on my own?

Am I driving my team to stretch and succeed?

Directs want to work. They want to produce results that are affirmational. Don’t stifle them by not stretching them during this sheltered time.

  1. How effective have I been when presenting my ideas?
  2. How urgent are my recommendations, internally and externally?
  3. Have I been inspiring?

Answer these questions to take stock in your recovery-potential.

Checking Covid-Fatigue and Other Things Affecting Your Team

As a doctor, my father saw dozens of hospitalized patients during his long career. And as anyone who has been in a hospital knows, it can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing experience. I used to make rounds with my father many times as he visited patients. Even as a young boy, I could appreciate his manner and the approach he took with each person. He was courteous, optimistic, patient, and clear. I also noticed how he transformed each patient’s feelings about their surgery.

I could see their anxiety ebb from his interaction with them. The main message my father got across to his patients is that he cared. He took time to listen and to understand their apprehension. Never rushing them, he heard what they wanted to tell him, the result being very cathartic for his patients. By the time he completed his pre-op evaluation, they were brighter, confident, and peaceful.

Fast forward to us as leaders in a pandemic…Do as my father did! Now is the time to learn about your direct reports. How is this “next normal” affecting them, their families, their mindsets? Where/when are they experiencing the most anxiety….like my father’s patients did? And how can you help them cope while still growing in their professional role?

To help, here are some key things to do as you connect with your team members:

  • Schedule formal team check-ins: Put them on the calendar and do not vary from that schedule!  Formal vs. ad hoc check-ins prove you care about the well-being and self-actualization of your team. Notice how directs will open up to you more and more from this effort.
  • Aim your conversations forward not backward: It’s been a hard 12 months for everyone. But this too shall pass (eventually!). Focus your conversation on the positive steps that can be taken now and for the future. This action illustrates optimism and that you realize how important your team’s actions are to being part of the global recovery.  
  • Empathize with COVID-fatigue: The burden of living/working through this pandemic is a heavy one to bear. It is real, it is debilitating, and it needs to be addressed. Ask your team about how they are dealing with this challenge? What impact has it has on them mentally, physically, financially, etc.? Ask about their family. These questions are mission-critical to pinpointing what may be thwarting your direct’ s ability to focus and produce the results you need.
  • Agree on a forward-thinking business development strategy: Working from a plan will help reduce your team’s anxiety because they will know where they are headed. Creating this path keeps your team focused on the right prize and what matters most, professionally. 
  • Establish and CELEBRATE short term accomplishments: A win is a win. Celebrate it! This is imperative to do to cement the actions you want to be replicated. You are also letting your team know that you are paying attention to what they are doing. Providing real, meaningful, positive feedback is one of the greatest, most valued things a leader can provide a team member. Do it!

The benefit of these actions is that they transform a team’s spirit along with each individual’s self-actualization. You are reminding them, and yourself, that they make a difference!

Do these things in the next few weeks and let me know how it goes!  -SG

What Will You Be in 2021?

This time each year, I create my New Year’s resolutions and business goals. I recommend you do this too. For me, it creates my focus and often, weekly reflection. It also reminds me of my higher self. You know, the one that’s the “good angel.”

For many people, myself included, 2020 did NOT go as planned! The goals I set for 2020…out the window as Covid changed everything. But that doesn’t mean you should give up creating goals and plans for 2021. The new year has the potential to be one of transformation like no other. It’s also the year to celebrate a new normal with clients by embodying optimism and strong virtual commercial judgment.

An Understanding Optimist

One of my first 2021 resolutions is to remain an optimist. My second is to promise my clients, and myself, an in-depth understanding of their commercial journey. Our bridge to a better tomorrow is built by being affirmational with clients today. What that means is we know their business/professional goals and, to a great extent, their personal goals, too. Once a client shares this with me, I hold it as a covenant for collaboration. It’s an honor for a client to share what’s truly driving their focus and energy, beyond just the window dressing of expected goals.

A Trusted Advisor

The more I understand the white space a client is wrestling with, the more I can assist them and be held as a trusted advisor. And that’s always a goal for me…it should be for you as well. This requires a commitment to forging an intimate commercial relationship with your client, beyond the peripheral one each of us has. It requires asking questions that may seem too invasive. Let them be that way. If a client bristles with some of your commercially intimate questions, explain that the reason you are asking them is to clearly understand their burning challenge. And, once knowing this, taking it on as a marching order to make the grandest difference you can, helping them resolve that challenge.

Ultimately, you want a client relationship that results in them speaking well of you even when you are not around. Getting in deep with them and staying in their pain as described above will help achieve this goal.

I wish you much success, prosperity, and good health for 2021!  -SG

My New Year’s Wish For You…

As I piece together my New Year’s Wish for you, I’m struck by your complete humanity and commitment to make a difference even when your life, family, and business are threatened. This is remarkable and bears a profound acknowledgment for your bravery, focus, and constitution amid this uncertain, dangerous world.

On March 18th, when I moved my business to the virtual world, I was scared, apprehensive, and confused. Pre-COVID, my world was one of standing in front of people, from one to one thousand, and coaching/teaching. Once I figured out how to operate in Zoom, Teams, etc., I took stock of myself and committed that I would make a difference in people’s lives, one person at a time, no matter what the world threw at me. I would also remember to be grateful and actualized from it. It took this COVID crisis for me to realize I could make a difference virtually as well as in-person, anywhere and anytime!

So can you, if you say so.

As you look into 2021, reflect on your core DNA that you’ve proved is unshakable. You sat by your own fire, understood the difference you make, and said to the world: “I’m going to continue to make a difference, COVID or no COVID.” Going forward look around you. Notice people’s isolation, grief, and fear. Do your best to empathize with them. Embody optimism to serve as a bridge to transform their world. Let others know that they can be as brave as you are. By doing this, you’ll find your light.

Don’t let COVID shut someone down that’s in your sphere. Show them they’re stronger than it.

As we close out 2020, list what you’re grateful for and gain strength and pride from it. Many of us have struggled and lost friends, family, or colleagues this year. Yet we’re still here, still making a difference. With your collective effort, know that we will dance again.

With all my support and admiration, I wish you a rewarding and prosperous New Year.

Assess Your Client Relationship Before Next Interaction

Do I need to tell you that these are stressful times? If I do, please let me know your secret for blocking out the world around you. For the rest of us, these times are creating an urgency that we “must” get things done ASAP or risk losing clients/business. Understand something here…this is not the reality. If you are at risk of losing clients, it’s more likely it’s because you have not consciously and systematically remained connected to them. Help is here!

Below I’ve listed key questions I recommend you ask of yourself before every interaction with a client. Pause and focus on them. Be honest with yourself about how your relationship is shaping up. By doing this, you will have assessed the situation well and can enter the interaction from a point of reality and not a stress-induced panic that will negatively cloud the interaction.

Questions to Assess Client Relationships

Have I shown my foresight?
Clients and teams want and need to be led. They value your prescience. It shows that you’ve been thinking about them and their commercial challenges. Consider the last encounters you’ve had with them. Did you look to the future and make strong recommendations? Or did you simply react to what’s happening now to put out fires?

What potential transformation have I offered lately?
Have you demonstrated your critical thinking and innovation? I don’t care if it’s off base a bit…just put forth what you believe your client or team needs to transform in 2021. This shows your insight.

Have I instilled additional trust and assuredness in my leadership?
Did you deliver on your commitments lately? Follow up and get feedback so that they know you want to drive results based on their goals, not your own. This leadership will increase trust.

Have I created a side-by-side relationship with this person/team to solve the issue being discussed?
As you find out what they need to strengthen, create a critical path to solve that challenge with them. Let them know they are not driving alone…you are helping to command the ship and move things in the right direction. This creates a partnership relationship rather than a client-vendor one.

What level of optimism have I shown?
Be optimistic. Comport yourself as though we’re in the middle of 2021 where the virus has begun to ebb. Let your client vent about the world’s issues…you’re job is to bring them back to the things that can be controlled and establish your team and you as critical to moving things forward.

How can I make our next interaction meaningful?
In this difficult time, make your interactions meaningful by caring for the person first, then moving to your business agenda. You must know their challenges/what keeps them up at night. Be relational first….sell second.

Having and maintaining self-awareness/emotional intelligence is critical now. Be grateful for the people you collaborate with and the ones you lead. Use these questions to improved your standing, related to your clients, and create a positive outlook for 2021. It will be a breath of fresh air for a lot of your clients (and employees) and have you stand out from the crowd!

The Start of a Meeting: A Fine How-Do-You-Do!

Even though we are doing more video meetings than ever, starting them should have the same light, tight, and bright focus as in-person meetings. Too often, people start meetings without a purpose for those critical first few minutes. Instead, the conversation drifts…often about the weather, sports, the state of the pandemic, etc. 

The moment you greet your client, you are “on.” It’s up to you to move the conversation in a productive, meaningful direction. Your client’s business needs must be an obvious concern of yours from the moment you say “Hello.” You’ve done your reconnaissance; you’ve made the appointment. Now, you are ready to take command of this video call and project an aura of ease, confidence, and care. This is not a casual Zoom call to reconnect with your college buddies…it’s your chance to demonstrate value and earn your “trusted advisor” status. 

That being said, the first few minutes of a call are usually highlighted by small talk. Being successful with small talk is not easy. A good dose of caring, friendliness, and intelligence is required as well. Let’s break those down in terms of how the first few minutes of your next call could go:

Care About Your Clients

Especially in today’s times with the pandemic impacting everything, it’s important to be empathetic. “How are your family and your holding up during these troubling times?” is a good opening. It lets your clients talk about something personal while you learn a bit about where their mind is for the meeting. Pay attention to the answer! It’s not just small talk…you are always collecting intel, even if personal. Bring it back the next time you talk with them, “Last time we spoke, you were concerned about your son returning to college. How did that go?” Immediately, you’ve reconnected and once again, you will have them talking about something that’s really important to them. 

Be Professionally Friendy…and Focused on Them!

Your clients are not your friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be professional friendly with them. What I mean is that you can care about their life (see above) and be genuinely interested in what’s going on for them outside the office. But don’t take it too far. You’re not angling for a holiday dinner invitation! 

And as I always say, it’s important that you be interested…not interesting! During the opening small talk period, however, people tend to want to relate what’s being said to their own life. A few years ago, I joined a client as she visited one of her clients. She noticed a photo of a soccer player and he asked who it was. Turned out, it was her client’s husband, something she noted with pride as she told us he played professionally. Great! We got her to loosen up a bit and garnered some intel as well. But then, my client started talking, at length, about her college soccer career…from 15 years ago! I watched as the life force of her client whooshed out of her face. We were still discussing a topic that her client had an interest in but we were no longer talking about the reason why she was interested in it! 

Bottom line, if you find you are doing more talking during the opening salvos of small talk, you are starting to lose the meeting. Get it back! How? 

Read on…

Start Smart…and Stay That Way

If you’ve read my blog over the years, you know I am consistent in my recommendation that you DO YOUR HOMEWORK!. You must know as much as you can about your meeting attendees and their business. What does the company do? What are the industry’s challenges? What competitors are there? What’s the latest company and/or industry news?  It’s that latter question that can help move you from small talk to intelligent conversation.

To do that, start with a topical, business-oriented statement or question that shows you are genuinely interested in your client’s company and its goals. And use your homework to ask it intelligently! 

“I read in the Wall Street Journal that your competitor is shutting down 40% of its European operation. Have you seen any impact from that already and what could it mean for your international growth this year?”

State one or two aspects of an issue, ask for your client’s thoughts on the matter, and then sit back and listen. Opening with an informed insight shows knowledge of your client’s world, knowledge that your client may not figure you have and which is, therefore, impressive. And it can be accomplished within the first 30 seconds of a meeting!

The first few minutes of a meeting sets the tone. And you are in control of it! Keep these three themes and let me know how it goes!