Cross Selling

There are undoubtedly a number of silly jokes that can be made about the expression cross selling.  The fact of the matter is that cross selling is the act of offering other products and services that are also available from your business.  Don’t mistake it for up-selling which is something very different.

Any time you’re at a restaurant and your server asks, “Would you like fries with that?” you’re experiencing cross selling. It’s cross selling because the norm is to have fries with a burger and so this recommendation enhances the burger experience for most consumers.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and countless other eCommerce sites use cross selling every time you read: “Customers who bought this item also bought.” The suggestions usually consist of 2 or 3 items that will improve the consumer experience they are having at the time. The recommendations are kept to a minimum (no more than 2 or 3) in order to prevent the customer from being overwhelmed by the suggestions.

So, in a nutshell, a cross-sell is when a customer is encouraged to consider purchasing accessories or related items without changing the nature of the initial product or service being purchased.

We all remember products we’ve purchased where we’ve learned upon getting back home that “batteries are not included.” The wise thing for the salesperson to have done at the time of purchase would have been to cross sell batteries. Ignoring the value of cross selling means less money in your bank account and the increased potential that a formerly happy customer is now unhappy about the service he or she feels he did not get in exchange for his or her money.

The best way to hone your cross selling skills is to be aware of what your customers tend to purchase regardless of whether you sell products or services. Keep a file in your office that keeps track of products that most often sell with your most requested products or services. Then make a habit of bringing the customer’s attention to those cross sell products or services.

Again, as with suggestive selling, this isn’t about pushing products or services on your clientele. Rather, it’s about improving their experience with you so they recommend you to their circle of influence and establish themselves as return customers.

Studies have proven that satisfied customers would much rather make the most of an established business relationship to buy other products and services than shop around to find good deals elsewhere. To this end, the opportunity to create additional value to an existing business relationship relies on your ability to understand the importance of cross selling to your customer and to do so wisely and ethically.

What you want to do with cross selling is continue building a positive relationship, and not undermine what you’ve already established with your customer. And as with suggestive selling, sometimes the best cross selling is when you can connect your customer with a business that offers products and services that are complementary to your own products and services ensuring that your customer is able to purchase exactly what he or she wants and needs. Yes, sometimes the best cross selling happens thanks to having strategic partners who aren’t in competition with what you offer.

Keep in mind that in having strategic partners, you also increase your customer base by the number of customers your strategic partners have, making this situation win-win-win for the customers, for your strategic partners, and for your business.


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