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Cross-selling and how to make it work for your business

By Anna Metcalfe | 13 Oct, 2015

“Would you like any of our discounted chocolate bars today?”

Sound familiar? This is an example of cross-selling but what you try and sell, when and to whom will determine if the sales technique is actually beneficial to your business. Or not.

Kick off with a definition

So what is it exactly? Cross-selling is quite simply encouraging a customer that is already spending with you to spend more by offering them relevant and timely goods. Amazon is certainly a role model here. You buy a remote controlled car and they give you an overall price to buy the batteries from them too. Useful and probably saves tears on Christmas day. But you might not have been so positive it they tried to sell you a book on house renovation at the same time – it has to be relevant and potentially beneficial to the customer.

So here’s a few tips and thoughts from us to help you on your way.

Be relevant

A duvet bedding set might be cross-sold with a new duvet. If you’re buying a dog lead, you might be interested in a dog collar or even a dog toy. It’s common sense really. These types of suggestions presented to your customer will not put them off or annoy them. Get it wrong and you might lose the sale in the worst case scenario. Relevance matters.

Many businesses are developing a “frequently purchased together” or “you might also like” function to their websites and this is exactly what cross-selling is about. Think of it as the helpful shop assistant that knows the range well and is truly trying to help you as opposed to hard selling to you.

Bundle it together

Bundle it together for a discounted price and the customer might well be delighted. Consider if they buy a new computer. Bundle it with a monitor or perhaps the software and offer it at a discount – there’s something in it for everyone then.

Timing is everything

Telling me about a range of great duvet covers when I haven’t decided what size duvet I’m going to buy is not helpful. In fact it might just be annoying. Offering me discounted chocolate when I walk in to the store is also annoying. Timing matters, just like relevance. The best time to cross-sell is when choices have been made and the customer is just thinking if there is anything else they need before they pay. Or even at the point when they have their card details out (at the basket in ecommerce terms). So think about what might work with your own customers, try it and assess the results.

What did other customers do?

We can all be heavily influenced by hearing what other customers did. Back to Amazon again – who doesn’t scroll down when viewing a product to see what else customers bought? It feels like unbiased information and therefore more valuable that the store telling us what else we need.

 

However you decide to cross-sell, the most important thing to remember is to be helpful and never annoying. Think about whether you would personally be happy to be at the receiving end of your cross-selling techniques. If not, don’t do them!

Anna Metcalfe
About Anna Metcalfe

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