Are You Missing Out on Cross-Selling Opportunities?

Floating around the sales-verse these days is the term “cross-selling”—promoting goods and services that complement the main goods and services you’re in the process of selling. In our everyday buying life, we’re cross-sold to all the time: Do we want to purchase a full tank of gas with our rental car? How about an extended warrantee on our dishwasher? If we like X product, the online retailer says big-brotherly, we might also be interested in Y.

For B2B and B2C sales reps, in any industry, the benefits of cross-selling can be monumental. Banks and SaaS (software as a service) providers, for example, are not just monetizing cross-selling, they’re building customer loyalty. The more services a customer signs up for, the more dug in they are; therefore the more likely they are to continue being a customer of that brand. They’d rather not forfeit all that built-up time and effort and search for a different place to begin again as a customer. Loyalty is also a driver for them.

Similar to the gum-at-the-counter model, when presented with options at the point of purchase, buyers frequently impulse-buy. Highlighting related products helps customers discover those things that they might not have been looking for, yet which still may benefit them.

Faced with the possibilities of cross-selling, how does the wise rep sort it all out and cross-sell effectively? Follow these best practices and you’ll be on your way:

Stay Calm and Carry on as a Trusted Advisor: Remain true to the values of a trusted advisor, using related-item suggestions not as a means for further monetizing, but as a way to add value to the customer’s experience. In other words, put your energy into educating your customer on the breadth and selection of what your business can offer them—which they in turn can put to use in growing their own business.

Keep It in the Family: Cross-selling non-related products and services doesn’t work and doesn’t fit with the trusted advisor ethos. Selling a PA system when the main product is office chairs, for example, sends mixed messages and gunks up the customer’s thinking when they’re in the buying path. Making unrelated suggestions can also undermine your attempts to sell more relevant items: “So you’re interested in airplanes. Do you ever go by boat?” Wrong.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: You might be tempted to sell a great deal of products all at once. Don’t do that. Overwhelming your customer with product selections of the 31- flavors variety may throw them into a state of confusion, detour their attention, and make you seem be greedy. It is also important to consider closing out the current sale before other products/services are offered. This will ensure you don’t derail the momentum you’ve already established by introducing other offerings.

Know Your Stuff—and Communicate It: Be a subject matter expert on what you’re selling, and clearly communicate the details of it to the customer. Failing to provide adequate information could confuse and/or aggravate your customer.

Bundle Up: Incentivize customers by bundling a set of complimentary goods and services, rather than just one for the regular price. Everyone appreciates a deal, especially when products are related—and based on customer need. Your customer will see the value not just of the lower price point, but of the interconnectedness of the items being bundled. They’ll also understand the value of you, a trusted advisor who has thoughtfully packaged a bundle of connected items.

The Less Obvious Benefit: What you’re offering when you cross-sell is not just related items, but exceptional customer service, which is always of great value to the buyer. Think about it: When you recommend additional goods and services based on identified customer needs, you’re saying, “I get you, and I can give you what you need and more.” You’re helping yourself, too—because the next time they need something, related or nonrelated, they’ll think, “I know just who to call.”