How to sell more by cross-selling relevant products and services
You can use cross selling techniques with your existing customers to recommend relevant products or services. You can also use cross selling to new customers as a way to increase what they spend per visit.
The key is that any recommendations must be relevant to the customer.
How cross selling works
To increase sales to your existing customers by offering additional relevant products and services, you’ll want to:
1. Train your staff to become cross-selling experts. And reward them for doing this when it’s relevant to the customer.
Know this: People need to use good judgment. An example from mystery shopping at McDonald’s when the employees were all to be asking, “Do you want fries with that?” An employee asked this to someone who had just ordered an ice cream cone. Fries with an ice cream cone? That wasn’t a relevant recommendation. For cross selling to work well and not come off as a high pressure sales technique, the sales person has to think about what the customer is interested in and make relevant recommendations.
2. Use information from your customer database to tailor messages to cross sell relevant products and services based on what the person (or company) has purchased in the past.
If you know who has bought what, it helps you identify what products or services an individual or company are not buying. With that information you can determine what would be relevant and appropriate to recommend to them. This is called “increasing share of customer” or “increasing the market basket.” Or cross-selling.
3. Make sure your website is set up to cross sell relevant products or services. Sites like Amazon.com do an incredible job at this. There are lots of software tools that can help you with making relevant cross-sell recommendations based on what someone as looked at on your website or if they’ve logged in, what their customer profile shows they’ve purchased in the past.
Other sales techniques that are cross selling
- Upselling with Good Better Best Options
- Solution Selling
From our experience: McDonald’s was a master at initiating cross-selling when they asked all their people at the cash registers to ask customers, “Do you want fries with that?” when they ordered a hamburger. And that led them and other fast-food restaurants to create meal deals which are bundles of relevant products.
What’s the equivalent of “Do you want fries with that?” for your business?
TIP: What’s key is figuring out what products/services would be relevant and appropriate for a person, a household or a company (whoever you sell to).
Relevancy is key to successfully cross-selling. You need to know enough about the customer to know what is appropriate to offer them. Good sales people do cross-selling all the time. In marketing this is done through customer data analysis to know what someone has purchased and what they haven’t. Then based on their profile information you can determine what products/services would be relevant to offer them.
An example of cross-selling to consumers
A hair salon can increase revenues by identifying customers who buy a single service (ex: haircut only customer) and sending only those single service people an email with a coupon to try hair coloring or make-up application.
What is key: Only offer this coupon to people who don’t buy this service now. You don’t want to offer all your paying customers a deal on something they’d pay full price for. You could also offer a free 15-minute consultation about hair highlighting, coloring, perms (whatever is relevant) at their next visit.
A business example of cross-selling
Let’s say you sell tax services to small businesses. You’re very busy (too busy) during tax season and then not busy enough during other parts of the year. What else could you offer your customers that they’d value and you’d make money doing?
What about personal financial assessment or coaching for the business owner during your “off months?”
Look at your client list and determine who your offer would be relevant to and send them a letter with a time frame (deadline.) Follow-up with a phone call to see if and when they want to schedule a meeting.
Even if they decline, you are reminding them about you and your tax services. If you do this well, you will increase their confidence in you.
An example of cross-selling in retail
When someone is buying a car seat for a baby, that new parent needs a lot of other things! When someone is buying a computer, a savvy sales person recommends software, a monitor, a carrying case, cables, a mouse and a warranty.
An example of cross-selling for services
The phone companies are masters at this. When you set up a new phone line, they tell you about all their other services for voice mail, cell phones and high speed Internet access.
How to sell more by cross-selling
Ask yourself the following questions:
Are your sales and customer service people trained and rewarded for cross-selling?
Is your website set up to cross-sell relevant products and services based on the page someone is on?
The top ecommerce sites like Amazon and Nordstrom do an excellent job at this. You should be doing it too!
The check-out page is a good one to cross-sell relevant products or services based on what the customer is planning to purchase. Many ecommerce programs offer this functionality.
Are you collecting email addresses from your customers?
Most small businesses don’t ever ask people for their email addresses. They should. Only people who want to hear from you will give you their contact information. Email is a very cost-effective way to let people know about special events and to send them relevant information that will remind them about you/your business. It’s also a very easy way to target and communicate with customers based on their specific behavior and profile.
Do you have a customer database? You need this to do effective cross-selling. Your customer data is one of your most valuable assets.
Have you set up a customer contact plan?
It’s like making an editorial calendar of what information you will share with customers each month, week or quarter, depending on how frequently it’s appropriate to contact them. You should be contacting customers at least four times a year (once a quarter) to stay on top of their mind. There are often “trigger events” when it’s appropriate to contact someone to renew or repurchase. This alert can be automatically set up in a customer database (and customer contact plan) to remind you to email or call the customer.
Are you sending customers a catalog of your best-selling products to educate customers on everything you offer?
You don’t need your catalog to cover all your products. It should highlight each category’s best sellers and then direct people to “Go to our website to see more products like this.”
Are you sending your existing customers direct mail postcards to let them know about relevant new products or services? Direct mail postcards are an effective way to cross-sell relevant products and services to your existing customers. They will be more apt to look at postcards from companies they already do business with.
Do you have a customer loyalty program? That’s often part of a CRM (customer relationship marketing) program.
Are you targeting specific customer types with your search engine marketing?
If you offer more than one product or service, you should be specifically targeting each type with your search engine marketing. For example, if you’re an office supplies store, don’t just focus on keywords like “office supplies.” Instead focus on specific product types like “staplers” or “copy paper.” You’ll have more success getting ranked on page one of a person’s search results. Plus people who buy one item are highly likely to buy the other.
Are you analyzing and segmenting your existing customers?
It is essential to identify who has purchased what and who hasn’t so you can send relevant cross-sell messages.
From our experience: Cross-selling applies to every type of business. If it’s done well, it’s a win-win for the customers and the company. It can backfire if irrelevant offers are made or it comes off like someone is on commission and too pushy. Timing matters a lot, especially if you are cross-selling after someone has purchased something from you. A good way to keep customers is to know when it’s time for them to repurchase and then contacting them before that point with an easy way to buy. Also recommend other relevant products/services that complement what they have.
When you attend trade shows and events, are you inviting your existing customers and highlighting relevant product demonstrations and activities?
Existing customers are the most likely to stop by a trade show booth or exhibit. Are you focused on reinforcing their loyalty and educating them about all the products/services you offer that would be relevant to them?
Are you offering and cross-selling warranty and extended care services? These can be very high profit items to sell.
Are you merchandising and promoting bundles of products together? That’s called solution selling and it’s a type of cross-selling.
Are there complementary businesses that you could do an exchange where they promote your products or services to their customers and you do the same for them? For instance, you’re an attorney and you work closely with several CPAs. Do you trust each other enough to share your client records?
From our experience: Many companies (large and small) rush to advertise when it is far more cost-effective to educate and cross-sell additional products/services to their existing customers.