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Cross-Selling: What It Is And How It Can Help Your Business

We employ a lot of different tactics and strategies when it comes to increasing sales. One of the most popular ones that you may have heard of is cross-selling. 

Cross-selling is a particularly effective digital marketing strategy since it doesn’t cost additional expense to do, unlike other marketing or promotional efforts. No need to spend money on ads, or customer acquisition campaigns. You also don’t need to spend time and effort finding new leads. In fact, cross-selling makes use of your existing customer base.

According to research, cross-selling increases sales by 20% and profits by 30%. In fact, 35% of e-commerce giant Amazon’s revenue is from cross-selling alone.  

These may all sound amazing, and you are probably thinking of implementing this strategy right away in your business or brand. After all, who wouldn’t want to easily increase their sales and profits, right? But before you do any of that and modify your sales methodology, let’s define first what cross-selling exactly is.

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What is Cross-selling?

a shirt a beanie hat and shoes for cross selling

Cross-selling is a sales strategy where you persuade a customer to purchase a complementary or related product to the one that they already bought. 

Here’s a scenario to make it easier to explain. You just bought a winter coat at your favorite shop. Then, the salesperson asks you if you would also like to purchase a matching glove with that. While you may have initially set out to buy just a coat, with the salesperson’s convincing, you ended up also buying the gloves, since they will help in making you feel warmer and can also add aesthetic appeal since it matches your new coat. 

That, my friends, is cross-selling. It’s when you prompt customers to purchase an additional product that can enhance the product that they already bought.

The business gets to maximize its profits, while the customer gets a better purchase experience. It’s a win-win situation for both. 

Another example is when you go to a restaurant or a fast food shop. When you purchase a burger, the cashier will usually ask you “Would you like fries with that?”. This is perhaps one of the most common examples of cross-selling. 

What is the Difference Between Cross-Selling and Upselling?

man holding a yellow pepper in one hand and an apple in the other with the words good? and better? above his headCross-selling and upselling are strategies that are commonly grouped together, and it’s easy to see why it could be confusing. Let’s define them first.

Cross-selling is when you offer a related or complementary product to your customer.

Upselling is when you offer a better, upgraded product compared to the one that they are thinking of purchasing.

Here’s an example of the difference between cross selling and upselling. Let’s say you’re an electronics retailer, and your customer is purchasing a laptop. If you are cross-selling, you could offer a laptop case, mouse, or keyboard to go along with the laptop. If you are upselling, you could offer a newer laptop with bigger storage space and better graphics.

What is the Difference Between Cross-Selling vs Down-Selling?

a scale with the word down selling on the lower scale

Another term that gets confused with cross-sell is down-sell. Down-selling is when you offer an alternative, cheaper product to meet the customer’s budget requirements and make the sale go through. Because while profit is important in sales, any purchase is better than nothing at all. 

Here’s an example. Let’s say your customer is eyeing a laptop that was released in 2022. However, it’s much more expensive than his set budget.  Before the customer walks away, the salesperson offers a cheaper alternative. The laptop is older and has fewer features compared to his original laptop of choice, but it’s still a good laptop and it meets his set budget. The customer purchases this laptop.

That is how down-selling works. By offering a more affordable alternative, your chance of making a sale goes up.

What are the Benefits of Cross-Selling?

Now that we have the definition of the terms down, let’s discuss the benefits of cross-selling.

line drawing of a hand holding a bag with dollar sign on it for cross selling1. Cross-Selling Increases Profits and Sales

Let’s get the obvious benefit out of the way. By having one customer purchase multiple items instead of just one, it will give you more earnings. You will also see an increased profit from just one sale. Also, by having satisfied customers, it will give you more earnings and profits down the line.

line drawing of a dollar sign with arrows moving clockwise around it for cross selling2. Cross-Selling Increases Return of Investment (ROI)

As any person who works in sales can tell you, sales prospecting, or finding and getting a customer, is one of the hardest selling tasks in the world. By cross-selling, you don’t have to waste so much effort and resources in just finding a new customer. Instead, you can maximize your sales and profits from the existing customer base that you already have. This means that you’ll see instant profits and return of investments quickly. Awesome, isn’t it?

line drawing of hands shaking and a person standing behind for cross selling3. Cross-Selling Builds Brand Loyalty

When you launch a successful cross-selling campaign, it means you were able to give your customer multiple items that they love. Because of this, they feel more connected to your brand. They might even become your brand ambassadors since they can vouch for your great products or services to their family and friends. You’ll also see an increased customer lifetime value (CLV) since your customers will most likely return to your brand instead of others.

line drawing of a hand holding three stars for cross selling4. Cross-Selling Improves Customer Satisfaction

More often than not, when you think of cross-selling you’ll probably think of sleazy marketing tactics that push a customer to buy more than what they need, just to wring out more money from them. But that is completely wrong.

The main purpose of cross-selling is to create a cohesive customer journey and show your customers helpful and relevant products or services that they might need. It shows your customers that you care and you anticipated their needs. Having great customer satisfaction will in turn lead to more purchases in the future. 

line drawing of a circle with a person in it with three stars above5. Cross-Selling Provides a Great Customer Experience

By having all the products that your customer might need, you’ll become a “one-stop shop” for them. Your customers don’t need to waste time going to different stores or different websites just to find all the items they need. You’ll provide convenience, which is a prized thing for customers.

This in turn will give your customer a great buying experience. And what will it lead to? Correct, they will buy from you again and again since they had a previous good experience. 

How To Do Effective Cross-Selling

You now know the benefits of cross-selling, but how can you actually effectively implement it? What can you do to make your cross-selling efforts better?

line drawing of a person's profile with a lightbulb inside the head for cross selling1. Understand your Products and Services

Product knowledge is perhaps the most important skill in sales. No matter how well you speak or how charming you are, if you don’t know your products and services inside out, you won’t be able to answer your customer’s questions or come up with a product that is relevant to cross-sell.

three people with speech bubbles with two of them with lines and the one in the middle with a check mark for cross selling2. Understand Your Customer and their Needs

Just like with number 1 above, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers as well. By knowing your customer, their buying methods, their problems, and their needs, you’ll be able to provide product offerings or solutions that are tailored fit to them. 

line drawing of a bottle and a piece of cheese for cross selling3. Try to Cross-Sell as Much as Possible

The more opportunities of cross-selling you have, the more chances of the customers actually purchasing from you. Try to incorporate your cross-sell during your in-person sale, or on your website cart check-outs.

line drawing of puzzle pieces4. But Make Sure Your Cross-Sell is Relevant and Useful

Relevance is the most important thing to remember in cross-selling. Don’t suggest random items just to make a sale. Make sure the product or service that you are offering is something that is useful to the customers and can actually enhance their experience.

For example, your customer is looking to buy a pillow. A relevant cross sell is a pillow case, or a blanket. Maybe even a linen spray to use on their pillows. But they probably won’t have any use for a cabinet, even if your shop offers that as well. You don’t want to turn off your customers by just shoving random products at them, right?

line drawing of a hand pushing a block forward5. Don’t be Pushy

Speaking of turn offs, nothing annoys customers more than a pushy salesperson. During in person sales, if the customer already says no to a cross-sell, don’t push it. The same rule applies on your eCommerce sites, don’t bombard your customers with a million pop-ups or banners for a cross-sell.

line drawing of a circle surrounding a person with arrows pointing in for cross selling6. Show a Few Personalized Suggestions

While you do want to maximize your profits in one sale, don’t overload your customers with multiple product offerings with their purchase.

Imagine that you went to a fast food place to buy a sandwich. A relevant cross-sell would probably be a drink, or a fries. But then the salesperson offers you a sundae, plus a salad, plus a milkshake, plus a cookie plus chips. I think everyone will agree that it’s too much!

Stick to one or two relevant offerings, and your cross-selling promotions will be more successful. 

#Cross-selling is a particularly effective #DigitalMarketing #strategy since it doesn’t cost additional expense to do💲 unlike other #marketing or promotional efforts. @M_3Jr shares his insights 🧐 Click To Tweet

Examples of Cross-Selling

Now that you’ve learned all of this, let’s take a look at some examples of effective cross-selling techniques. I’ve already given some cross selling examples about how to do cross selling in person, so this time let’s focus on how to cross-sell on an eCommerce site, or even on your website.

Yes, your website should not just contain your branding (logo design, brand colors, etc.) or company information. And your eCommerce site should not just contain a simple list of your products. You need to maximize every opportunity for cross-sell in order to have success in modern sales.

Here are some great cross-selling examples for you: 

1. The “Complete The Look”

cross selling example online store screenshot

Let’s take a look at the Adidas cross selling campaign. A customer looks at a running shoe, and when they scroll down they can see some products to complete their look. The website gives suggestions for a top, pants, socks, shoes, etc., therefore giving the customer a complete outfit.

This works since the products they are showing are related to the original item that you were interested in. It’s not just some random suggestion, it’s personalized. If you were interested in running shoes, you’re probably interested in exercising. Therefore, you might also need a workout top or hoodie, right? So their suggestion works.

Another great example of this is again in the Adidas site, where they show a matching item for a hoodie.

adidas online store screen cross selling example

adidas hoodie online store screen cross selling exampleThey show matching pants to go with the hoodie that the customer was initially interested in. Again, the suggestion is relevant, since they are both in the athletic wear category, and is in the exact shade of blue, therefore giving the customer a complete, matching outfit. 

These kinds of personalized suggestions are key for a successful cross-sell. It’s not pushy, but instead, you are just casually prompting the customer for item suggestions. You also save them the time and effort of scouring your site for items to go along with what they initially wanted to buy.

2. The “Buy it With…”

This is similar to the cross-selling examples above, but instead of giving the customer an overall look or a matching set, they show complementary items instead.

An example is Amazon, where they show a desk mount and a computer desk as additional products to go along with the gaming chair that the customer wants to purchase.

amazon online store example cross selling desk chairThe suggestions make sense, right? If you’re looking at a chair, you’ll need a desk to go with it as well. And if you are looking at an ergonomic item, chances are you’ll also be interested in a desk mount to adjust your monitor’s height. 

This kind of cross-selling technique that Amazon deploys, along with their “Frequently Bought Together”, leads to 35% of their revenue. It’s worth trying this cross-selling strategy on your own site.

Walkies

Another example is the pet shop Walkies. When a customer adds dog food to their cart, the site offers complementary products such as treats, or dog toys.

walkies screenshot example online store cross selling

3. The “Bundles”

Bundling is another tried and tested cross-selling tactic. You’ll group together different but related additional products that will work together, at a lower price than what they would sell for separately.

bundles cross selling example online store selling lip products

This works since you’ll make it convenient for the customer to buy all the additional products they need by bundling them all together. There’s also that perceived value, that they are getting a “deal” since they are getting it at a discounted price, which may prompt them to buy more.

Nature Box

While this kind of cross-selling technique is more common in cosmetics, other brands do this as well. Here’s a sample from Nature Box.

naturebox cross selling example online store

They bundled together their sweet snacks, making it easier for their customers to try all the related products out. If they liked it, chances are they will purchase a bigger serving of the snack in the future.

4. The “Pop Up”

Pop-ups are usually annoying, but not if you do it right. And get this, you can even do your cross-selling using a pop-up!

Anastasia Beverly Hills

An example of this is in Anastasia Beverly Hills site. After you add a product to your cart, a pop-up appears.

cross selling example screen pop up

Here, they suggested a makeup setting spray to go along with the makeup set that you just bought. Again, it’s a smart and personalized suggestion. And the pop-ups are not pushy, since it only appeared after you added something to the cart, meaning that you already showed purchase intent and are likely more receptive to cross sell.

5. The “Cart Checkout Add-Ons”

Another way to do your cross-selling is to have it on the checkout page, where your customers purchase intent is the strongest.

Dollar Shave Club

For example, here’s how Dollar Shave Club does their cross-selling:

cross selling example online store check out add onsAs per usual cross-selling technique, they suggested other shaving-related items to the customer. But they added another factor, which is the Free Shipping promo. This entices the customer to add more products to their cart to meet the threshold and get free shipping. 

cross selling example online store check out add ons

Of course, you can just do plain old cart add-ons like what Sephora did, even without the Free Shipping promo. These are still effective, after all. The key thing to remember is that the items you are cross-selling should not exceed the price of the original item that the customer wanted.

🚫No need to spend money on #ads, or #customer acquisition campaigns. @M_3Jr shares how #crossselling makes use of your existing #customer base.💡 Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Increasing revenue and profits are important in sales, especially if you want to grow your business. And you can achieve that through your customers.

Of course, finding and getting customers is a difficult and expensive journey. This is why it’s important to capitalize on your existing customers and maximize the profits you can in one sale. This is where cross-selling comes in. 

This is a very effective marketing technique yet it takes minimal effort. Just make sure that you follow our tips and best practices to get the most out of your selling strategy.

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