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Cross-selling: Smart route to improve small business sales

“Would you like coke or fries with that?”

Haven’t you heard this question at KFC or McDonalds while purchasing your favorite burger or chicken bucket?

Recommending complementary or related product/service is one common sales strategy used by companies to make instant profit. No matter which industry you belong to, it can be used to motivate the buyers for purchasing more products from you. This sales technique is popularly known as cross-selling.

It is the best way to drum-up the sales of your small business, provided you do it in the right way. Cross-selling doesn’t mean you offer a product just for the sake of selling it.

Cross-selling involves foreseeing the client’s needs and offering a relevant product that works best with the original product. It should provide real advantages to the user.

Let’s delve a bit deeper and understand what is cross-selling?

Defining cross-selling

Cross-selling is presenting the value of complementary or related products or services that will render more benefits to the buyer if purchased together. You pair products that work well together like shampoo and conditioner, phone and memory card, bread and cheese, etc

Cross-selling has worked for companies of all sizes, for instance, Amazon attributes up to 35% of their revenue from cross-selling.

Cross-selling is an art that needs to be mastered. You have a buyer who is already interested in one product, so your half work is done. You just need to put in a little more effort and show him the benefits of getting the other with it. With cross-selling, you can earn more profit in each transaction.

Did you ever notice those little things arranged near the sales counter in a store? Well, that is kept there on purpose. Children get enough time to convince their parents to pick chocolate or a toy while waiting in the billing queue.

Even on various e-commerce sites, you will see suggestions of products that go well with the existing purchase. Such suggestions sometimes encourage the buyers to make an impulse purchase which results in profitable sales for the company.

Cross-selling examples

Here are a few cross-selling examples that will help you in understanding this concept more clearly.

Cross-selling example 1: A clothing retailer suggests a winter cap to a buyer purchasing a jacket.

Cross-selling example 2: A sales representative from an insurance company targeted his current customers living in an area experiencing a flood.

He bundled homeowner insurance with flood insurance and presented it to his customers saying that “your current insurance only covers water inside the home; by getting flood insurance, you can protect your home from an influx of water outside your home as well”.

Cross-selling example 3: A web development company suggests digital marketing services to a current client who recently got their website developed.

Benefits of cross-selling

If you are selling more than one product, then you should consider cross-selling as it has a wide spectrum of benefits. Each product has certain strengths; when used together, it gives the buyer more benefits.

You just need to connect the one with the other smartly. If effectively executed, this useful technique can help in maximizing your small business profits.

Here are various benefits of cross-selling:

1. Increasing revenue

The more products a customer purchases, the better will be your revenue growth. But for this, you need to put the right things together. The best combinations can help in winning more sales.

Most of the customers don’t mind spending if they get value for the money spent. So, you should know how to present the value by connecting both the products.

Cross-selling is like feeding two birds with one seed. By enhancing the buying experience, you gain the trust of the customers, and you earn good profit by convincing the customer to buy a complementary product.

2. Better customer retention

When a customer spends more, he is likely to make the most of the product. If your combination is perfect and it provides the promised value, then there are chances that he might use your product for long.

High customer satisfaction most of the time results in future purchases. When customers see the benefits of both the products together, they tend to purchase both the product again instead of getting one.

Cross-selling doesn’t only boost your customer retention rate but also acquaints you to new opportunities. Satisfied customers often share their positive experiences with others. They write reviews or recommend your products to their networks.

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that, word of mouth is very powerful”- Jeff Bezos

3. Customers become more loyal to your brand

Haven’t you frequently bought multiple products of the same brand? When customers purchase a product and find it good, they prefer buying more products from the same place.

In cross-selling, you have better chances to make a good impression on the buyers as you can sell two products at the same time. If both the products manage to impress the clients, then there are high possibilities that they will buy more from you.

Customers who trust you stay loyal for long. Such customers know they won’t be deceived and so prefer trying new products from the same place instead of entering unknown territories.

“Once you create a loyal customer base it is tough for a competitor to take that away”- Joseph D Mansueto

Effective cross-selling techniques and tips

Cross-selling is a winning sales strategy, but unfortunately, some of the companies don’t do it right. Just knowing a strategy isn’t enough you need to execute it well.

Here are some effective cross-selling techniques and tips that can help:

1. Know your customers

Being familiar with the buying habits and needs of a customer is pivotal for cross-selling success. You must know what the customer wants, to suggest the right product.

If the customer doesn’t find the product you are offering useful, they will buy the product they are interested in and leave. You will only miss an opportunity of earning a profit.

  • Research about your customers and find out what more will they need to overcome the current problem they are facing.
  • For that, you need to discover their concerns, goals, expectations, and challenges.
  • Ask relevant questions to learn more about them for presenting the right mixture of products.

If you have customers who are already using one of your products, then collect the purchase history using sales reports and ponder over it.

Find out-

  • When did the customer purchase your product?
  • Why did he/she purchase your product?
  • On which channel was the customer more responsive (like email, call or social media)?
  • Did your product help?
  • Which other products can complement the product the user is already using?

By analyzing their first purchase, you will not only understand what to recommend but also know the ideal time and channel to connect with them.

2. Practice active listening

Cross-sell opportunity might knock your door at any moment, so you need to be alert. Every interaction you have with your customer is important, so be attentive. Actively listen to your potential customers while they share their needs and concerns.

Ensure that you are listening by acknowledging them when they pause in between. Instead of thinking what to say next, focus on what the customer is sharing. Take notes of vital details to stay on track.

“if you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will” – Sam Walter

Customers tend to share more information when they are comfortable speaking to you. There are chances that they might spill the beans at any moment by mentioning their business plans, goals, desires or interests.

This would be the right time to introduce them to the other product or service that could make their life better and help reach their desired destination.

3. Stay relevant

It might seem enticing to offer more products for increasing your sales. But you need to be careful with what you are suggesting. Unrelated cross-selling recommendations often fail.

There are chances that you might annoy the customer by suggesting things they don’t need. What’s the point suggesting an android charger to a person purchasing an iPhone?

Instead of having a product-centric mentality, try to have a customer-centric approach. Think about your customers. It’s necessary to be a problem solver to succeed at cross-selling. You need to know which of your products/ services can be put together to solve the buyer’s problem.

4. Train sales reps in cross-selling

Your employees are the face of your company, so ensure they are given the right training. Cross-selling isn’t about misdirecting the customers to sell more. It is about rendering optimum service and utmost satisfaction to the customers.

Your sales reps shouldn’t appear too pushy. They need to understand that they cannot suggest anything to anyone. Good knowledge of the product and the customer is imperative here.

Your sales reps should be able to explain subtly how the additional product supports the original product in solving the customers’ problems. Train them with various cross-selling techniques. Conduct a mock call and show them how cross-selling is done.

5. Use emails to cross-sell your product

Emails are the best way to inform your customers about the complementary product. Instead of picking the call and directly selling a product, consider taking a smarter way.

You can capture their attention by displaying the benefits of using one product with the other in an email. Keep sending them informative content on a regular basis.

Show them what they’re missing on and what more can they gain if they purchase the product that is in conjunction with the primary product.

Knowledge-based emails are the best way to engage with your customers and foster relationships with them for cross-selling your products.

There are many automation tools that can help. You just need to set workflows and the information you want to convey will reach your targeted customers in real-time.

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Example: You can create a workflow that whenever a customer purchases a product, the suggestions for a similar product(including its features and benefits) can be sent to the customers.

6. Wait till you provide satisfaction

You need to be very careful while targeting existing customers as they are already using your products. Don’t be in a hurry to introduce a complementary product or service.

Strike when the iron is hot.

Approach them only when they have reached a certain satisfaction level. If the customers had a positive experience using your product, then there are fewer chances that they would hesitate in purchasing an additional service or product.

If in case, they are unhappy using your product then you might be in trouble. So, take your customer’s feedback before recommending an additional product to find out if you succeeded in meeting their expectations.

Cross-selling best practices

Cross-selling is no rocket science. You just need to match the right pieces and use effective cross-selling techniques to generate maximum revenue for your company.

Here are the best practices to cross-sell effectively:

1. Choose the right time and moment to cross-sell

The client seems interested in your product. He is about to sign the deal. Everything is good so far. One wrong turn here can damage your relationship with the prospect.

So, it is important to know when to cross-sell a product. Choosing the right timing and moment for suggesting an additional product/service is crucial to ensure you don’t mess up the initial sales.

For instance, the client already has a low budget so in this case, you can’t persuade him to invest more dollars in another product. You need to be sure about the client’s purchasing capacity and needs before acquainting them with the complimentary product.

If the potential customer is willing to pay for the first product and even expresses a need for any other specific problem. So, in this case, you can suggest a complementary product to the customer.

2. Make the most of customer testimonials and case studies

Use the power of testimonials to convince a customer. A satisfied customer wouldn’t mind sharing their positive experiences with others. They are ever ready to post their reviews on various reviewing sites.

Using these testimonials and reviews show the potentials customers how purchasing the two products together helped the existing client. Share their case studies with them.

Let the customers see how they can benefit from your offering. As per research, 68% of companies form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.

3. Focus on profit margins and know when to take step back

Most sellers tend to give huge discounts while suggesting a complementary product/service. Ensure you don’t ignore your profit margins while giving such discounts. Cross-selling is all about gaining those extra profits, so you need to take every step wisely.

Don’t over-do to expand your profit margins by making promises that you can’t fulfill. Take the right path and give the best services to your clients. Rather than being self-centric, think about the benefits of both- you and your customers.

Concluding thoughts

Understanding the term- cross-selling is necessary to excel in it. Cross-selling is about offering an additional product that’s complementing the primary product. While in up-selling, the seller tries to offer a more expensive version of the same product.

The modern buyers are quite cautious and smart. They won’t invest in anything and everything. Convincing them to invest their precious dollars is a challenging task. The difficulty level escalates when you try to sell more than one product.

So, try to give your best by doing everything it takes to cross-sell a product. Explore various techniques, tactics, and technologies for cross-selling a product.

Tools like Salesmate – a CRM for small business can be of great help. Using this tool, you can manage your contacts in one place and attach tags to easily target them for pitching another product when required. With the help of its email tracking tool, you can keep a tab on your emails to find out if the customers are reading or ignoring your emails.

It allows you to create multiple pipelines for different products to avoid confusion and manage your sales effectively. Moreover, you can create sales reports measure vital sales metrics and get the purchase history of any product. Try this tool for free to explore its very feature or get in touch with our team to understand how it can be beneficial for your business.


An avid writer who likes to explore new fields and research about interesting subjects. She is a versatile content developer who plays with words to express her thoughts. Calm, carefree and creative are the words that describes her the best.

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