Mastering the Cross-Sell2

CC Jun 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Diana Doherty

“Would you like to add batteries to your purchase?” Nearly everyone has encountered this type of cross-sell. It’s an easy way to increase the sale of anything that requires battery power. The basics of cross-selling, like offering necessary components to an item, are no secret. Take your sales up a notch with master cross-selling techniques.

Important Distinction
Cross-selling and up-selling both result in a larger total purchase in one sale, but they involve different techniques. In an up-sell, you will talk your customer into buying a better, generally more expensive, version of the item they intended to purchase. When you cross-sell, you give customers the opportunity to choose complementary items or services to their purchase. A common example is the extended warranty offered on a product at the time the product is purchased.

Just about every sale is an opportunity for cross-selling. Some methods of creating additional sales are effective in just about any situation (as in the battery example). However, other ways of getting those related sales will differ depending on whether your customer is buying online or at a brick-and-mortar location. With online shopping, you can use all the data about a person’s shopping experience to offer them items they will probably want, even if those other items are unrelated to the original purchase.

Making the Cross
The many ways of offering additional items to your customers can be overwhelming. You may even be concerned too many offers will chase away a sale. Customers appreciate recommendations. Take advantage of the times and places it makes sense to let them know about accessories or other items to help them get more out of a purchase.

  • Tailor Recommendations: If a customer is buying a brand new guitar, it would make more sense to offer guitar picks than a violin bow. Whether online or off, make sure the items you’re cross-selling make sense based on what your customer is purchasing or has purchased in the past.
  • Encourage Customer Reviews and Expert Opinions: One of my favorite ways of finding a new book to read is to check out all the little staff recommendation postcards bookstores post. Whether you collect thousands of reviews per product, like Amazon.com®, or you post a single expert opinion, trustworthy opinions can help you cross-sell by convincing the customer they need an item.
  • Get Timing Right: Spontaneous purchases are most likely to happen if you present an item to the customer at the time of purchase. This is most obvious online with recommended items displayed before finalizing a purchase, and offline with register displays including commonly forgotten items like those batteries.
  • Implement a Post-Purchase Cross-Sell: Use the confirmation email online or the receipt in a brick-and-mortar to offer items accessories and other tailored offers. This is also a good time to offer a small discount or a coupon to the customer on those recommended items, further increasing the likelihood of a future purchase.
  • Offer Budget Bundles: Another popular way to cross-sell is to offer a group of items together. Cable and cellular companies have practically built entire business models from this method. When bundling, all items should have value to the customer, or they’ll likely pass it up.
  • Be Price Considerate: Cross-sells are most effective when they cost half-price or less than the original purchase. Again, this falls naturally in line with accessories to a product, like a screen protector, case, and stylus recommended during the purchase of a tablet. The price of these items is so much less than the tablet that the value of the items becomes more significant than the additional cost.
  • Listen to the Customer: Whether you are personally listening to a customer speak or tracking their online past purchases, really listening to what your customer needs will tell you everything you need to know to offer them cross-sells that make sense and meet their needs.

Customers will appreciate recommendations given with genuine attention to their needs. You’re more likely to close the cross-sell when you offer useful additional items instead of a “top sellers” list of unrelated items or things that are too expensive compared to the original purchase. Track your success with each of these methods and adjust them as needed to master cross-selling to your customers.

About Diana Doherty

Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.

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2 Comments

  1. Harry

    Diana – Excellent tips to increase sales with cross-sell. The key is to make it relevant and timely. I would add that every employee should be trained to cross sell to make it effective. HOW you propose items for cross sell is as important as WHAT you propose.

  2. Diana

    Agreed, Harry. I think effective training on cross selling is sometimes overlooked in small businesses where training may be under strict time and budget constraints, but it’s really one of the most useful tools for your employees to utilize.

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