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Cross-selling for Increased Sales, Profits, and Customer Satisfaction

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Cross-selling - the art of selling for non-salespeople

Cross-selling is the act of selling related products at the time and point of sale. Here's a couple of examples:

  • You buy trousers, the salesperson offers you the shirt, tie, cufflinks, shoes?
  • You buy a computer, the sales person offers you a printer, scanner, software?

When done well cross-selling will dramatically improve your sales, profits and customer satisfaction. Done poorly it will drive customers away in their droves.

The first time I told my wife about this concept she was scathing ? "all those *?$% sales people trying to sell you something you don't want" (She doesn't really swear ? much). We chatted for a while without too much meeting of minds. So I told her a story.

In days gone by you used to be able to walk into a hardware store, walk up to a counter and be greeted by a real person (this is before the days of big supermarkets and anonymous self-service). The conversation might go something like this:

You: 5 litres of white exterior gloss paint please.

Sales: Certainly sir, here you go. The finish from this paint is helped a lot if you use good brushes ? how are you fixed for brushes?

You: Well, I haven't looked for a while ? I am really not sure.

Sales: What are you going to paint?

You: 3 doors and a couple of window frames.

Sales: Umm, for window frames you are probably going to need a 1 inch brush for the detail and a 2in brush for the rest of the frame. The 2 inch brush would be good for the doors too if they are not too big. Tell you what, why don't you take a couple of brushes. If you find you don't need them you can always bring them back later.

You: Great ? good idea.

Sales: You'll need some white spirit to clean the brushes? do you have any?

You: No ? you better give me a bottle.

Sales: What are you planning to do on preparation? We have some pretty good packs that contain wire wool, assorted grade wet and drypaer, and some soft soap. Soft soap is much better for cleaning up old paintwork than detergents as it doesn't leave any residues.

You: I hadn't thought about preparation ? I'll take one of those packs as well.

That salesperson probably didn't even think what they were doing was 'selling'. They were simply 'helping' a customer.

But look what happened - you have been cross-sold into spending 3 or 4 times the price of a tin of paint. But when you get home you are ready to do the job. And if you don't need the paint brushes you know you can take them back (but you probably won't).

In the end my wife agreed that it wasn't the cross sell itself she found objectionable ? it was the way in which it is done.

Good cross-selling provides a service to the customer. It is nothing to do with pressure selling. It is not a tool simply to help salespeople hit their targets. And it has noth whatsoever to do with pushing products that the customer will never use.

And the really good news?

I haven't yet seen a company that could not benefit from training its staff in the art of cross-selling. Notice I said staff. Cross-selling is not just for sales people.

Keith Longmire is the owner of JKL Business Growth Solutions. JKL specialises in bringing main stream business improvement and marketing solutions into the reach of smaller businesses. His website has been designed to help owner-managers cut through the hype and produce innovative marketing plans that deliver results.

Copyright 2005 Keith Longmire.

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