You may just intend to walk into a store and purchase a pair of leather shoes. However, as you are checking out, the cashier says, “Do you need any leather conditioner to protect your shoes and prevent the leather from drying out?” Although you may not have thought about it, purchasing the leather conditioner with your new shoe investment is probably a good idea. You have her add it to your purchase. She then asks, “Did you need any brown dress socks today? We are having a two for one sale.” Come to think of it, your brown socks are looking a little worn. A new pair is just what you need to go with your new shoes.
Although you may not recognize it, the cashier is cross-selling. Similar to McDonald’s own approach of “Do you want fries with that?” cross-selling is basically suggesting a related product when a customer is making a purchase. Although the customer only intended to purchase the leather shoes, the cashier’s suggestions persuaded him to make two additional purchases, increasing the store’s profit. Cross-selling is an easy way to sell more products, improve customer satisfaction, and generate more revenue.
If you offer several related products, you should be cross-selling. So, how can you incorporate effective cross-selling into your business?
Never force the product at the customer
First off, you cannot force the product at the customer. The idea is to offer a suggestion that is likely to please the customer. Be helpful. The customer will appreciate that you are using your knowledge and experience to offer suggestions. But, make sure they are simply that: suggestions. If you are too pushy, the customer may get turned off and simply leave without purchasing anything at all.
Suggest only related products
Only suggest products or services that are related to what the customer is planning to buy. In the example above, the cashier knew that shoes, socks, and leather conditioner were all related and useful for the customer. If a customer has just purchased a refrigerator from you, don’t ask them if they would like to look at your new 3D televisions. Instead, ask them if they would like to purchase extra pure water filters for their new refrigerator. If a customer comes to your hair salon for a haircut, offer a conditioning treatment or a bottle of your new sunblock shampoo.
If you suggest an unrelated product, the customer will immediately recognize that you are just trying to increase sales without considering the customer’s needs. The customer will not trust your intentions and will go elsewhere.
Listen to the customer
How can you know exactly what the customer may need? Well, get to know the customer a little bit. Listen to their subtle clues. For example, the customer may state that they are looking for a DVD player that has great picture quality for home movie nights. You may suggest a player complete with a home theater system that will enhance their movie watching. If you listen to the customer, chances are you’ll pick up on their preferences and needs.
Never overdo your cross-selling
Although the cashier in our illustration was able to cross-sell the leather conditioner and socks, it is important to keep your cross-selling techniques concise and tight. If you start to offer too many products, the customer may become confused or suspect you are selling simply to make more money instead of truly trying to help him. Limit yourself to offering one or two additional products, unless previous experience strongly suggests customers would buy more.
Seize the right moment
Timing is also important in cross-selling. While a customer is trying on a new dress, you may suggest a matching cardigan. However, in many cases, it may be more successful to offer a related product, such as the water filters, during the checkout process. Try to display some common related products near the cash register. For example, in a shoe store, you should display shoe polish, lotion, conditioner, etc. right at the register.
Keep the customer in focus
In order to successfully cross-sell, you must keep the customer as the main focus. If you are cross-selling simply for the money, the customer will immediately notice that. Much cross-selling today fails because the employee’s actual profit-making intentions are overly obvious; the customer never even thinks for a moment that the business really cares about him. Only offer products that are related to the customer’s purchase and which can enhance his satisfaction.
Done correctly, cross-selling is a great selling strategy for both increasing profits while raising your level of customer service to the next notch.
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