While you may not have recognized it, the last time you ordered from a fast food restaurant or went to the post office, there is a good chance you experienced some type of cross-selling or up-selling. Cross-selling and up-selling are well-established and highly effective marketing practices utilized by a wide variety of industries. Shortsighted salespeople are often quick to suggest that customers get irritated by attempts to cross-sell products and perceive cross-selling as an aggressive sales technique. Interestingly enough, consumer research indicates that the reverse is true. The majority of consumers surveyed actually preferred a full range of products and services and appreciate the convenience that is provided through a comprehensive cross-selling approach. Top-producing sales reps and progressive companies understand the power of cross-selling and recognize it as a critical component for promoting both customer retention and revenue growth.
What is cross-selling? Cross-selling is nothing more than a proactive, ongoing sales process designed to provide your customers with a full spectrum of your company’s products and services. Not surprisingly, two of the key elements that drive effective cross-selling and up-selling are trust and convenience. Your customers’ trust in your company can be converted into additional sales that are not directly related to their existing products. The good news about the cross-selling and up-selling process is that it’s one of the most profitable and least risky endeavors a sales rep can undertake. It pays to cross-sell and up-sell because when you go the extra mile and provide information about additional products to your customers, you are financially rewarded for helping them make a more informed buying decision.
The first exposure I had to cross-selling and up-selling was as a teenager in high school working part-time at a fast food restaurant during my summer vacation. Looking back on my brief tenure at the restaurant, I can still hear my manager’s daily refrain: be polite, keep the counter clean and always ask the customers if they would like some fries with their meal.
A couple of years later, while attending college, I took a part-time job selling shoes at the mall. I was paid an hourly wage to sell the shoes, but I received a commission whenever I sold any accessory items such as shoe polish, socks or purses. This was my first taste of commission-based sales and I took to cross-selling and up-selling like a duck to water. After I had sold a woman a pair of new shoes, I would routinely hand her a bottle of leather cleaner and a purse to match the shoes. As a college student, the extra money I was able to make from cross-selling and up-selling additional products was like manna from heaven.
The best place to introduce your customer to the concept of cross-selling and up-selling is during your initial needs analysis meeting. Unfortunately, many salespeople fail to take the time to conduct a thorough needs analysis and as a result, do not uncover potential products and services that would be of benefit to their customers. The key to effective cross-selling and up-selling is all about guided self-discovery. Through a series of thought-provoking, open-ended questions, successful sales reps help their customers identify the products and services that they require.
Developing a systematic approach to cross-selling and up-selling enhances the customer’s buying experience and brings in additional revenue with relatively low expense and effort. As you prepare for your next sales appointment, I challenge you to look for cross-selling and up-selling opportunities that you can incorporate into your presentation. Sales reps who fail to effectively cross-sell and up-sell products actually do a disservice to their customers and leave the back door open to their competitors!