Comment: Matrix Management – the route to successful cross-selling?

Here are some tips to help you find cross-selling utopia

Like so many professional service organisations, the insurance industry - and the health insurance especially - recognises that one of the best ways to achieve growth is to win additional business from existing clients. The value of these add-on products or services is of course, economic growth, with increased customer buy-in and loyalty and potential economies of scale.

The pressure for cross-selling (or account development, increased client penetration, upselling) continues to grow. Whatever the label, it can cause real challenges to account management teams as often the products to be sold come under the auspices of a different corporate division.

I suspect that most of you who work in sales or account management have been accused of “working in silos” at some stage in your career. Most teams are managed in vertical alignment, and even if a one-stop shop approach is adopted for the sales process, the delivery part of the customer pathway is often controlled separately. The “silo mentality” can result in poor communication between managers and teams from different divisions leading to jealousy, distrust and bad behaviour (admit it – this doesn’t sound unfamiliar does it?). More importantly, working in silos can undermine the workplace environment and obstruct corporate objectives.

So how can you find the happy balance between “owning” your clients and exposing them to other sales people from your organisation who are experts in their particular field?

This is where matrix management comes in. Matrix management involves at least two chains of command, one vertical (the permanent, formal company structure) and the other horizontal (the flexible, team working structure). Put simply, you could “belong” to the group risk division, but also be a member of the wellness and/or health insurance account management teams.

Most organisations apply matrix management in some form or other. Often, when working in multidisciplinary, global or project management teams, colleagues may find their lines of communication become blurred. By introducing this management system more formally, communication channels and responsibilities can be clarified. This can generate an atmosphere of cooperation and enable shared incentive programmes for new business won.

The benefits of this system are manifold. Improved communication lines and integrated service as teams work together to achieve corporate objectives and increased client satisfaction. Employing the talents of individuals in cross functional teams can also enhance interdepartmental relationships and aid personal development.

Sounds like cross-selling utopia? I have seen the impressive effects of a well planned matrix management training programme. So for all of you who have targets to meet – give it some thought.

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