Have you ever found yourself in a store, looking to buy a simple tube of toothpaste, only to end up walking out with a cart full of useless gadgets, a new pair of socks and a giant stuffed unicorn? If so, congratulations, you have been the victim of cross-selling techniques! Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Cross-selling is the subtle art of getting the customer to say, “Well, while we’re at it, why not buy that too?” In our guide to cross-selling, we’ll reveal the secrets of this technique to increase your revenue in your own store. Here are the techniques for successful cross-selling.

Before the sale:

  1. Know your customers and your products.
  2. Use in-store displays.
  3. Present limited time offers.
  4. Offer bundles.

During the sale:

  1. Limit the number of suggestions.
  2. Ask probing questions.
  3. Make suggestions.
  4. Provide added value and educate the customer.

After the sale:

  1. Thank the customer.
  2. Send marketing emails.
  3. Follow up and offer support.
  4. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

But before embarking on the techniques, you must first know what cross-selling is, how it can be useful to you and learn the difference between cross-selling and upselling. Let’s dive into the world of cross-selling!

What is Cross-selling and Why is it Useful?

Cross-selling is a sales strategy that involves encouraging customers, who are already making a purchase or considering making one, to purchase an additional product or service. The purpose of cross-selling is to increase the value of the customer’s cart. This can be done by suggesting products that are similar, complementary or related to the product that the customer already wanted to buy. It’s a win-win outcome: the customer benefits from added value and the store increases its revenues.

But how is cross-selling useful? It allows the retailer to increase sales and revenue. By suggesting complementary or related products, the retailer can increase the average transaction amount and therefore increase revenue.

The second advantage of cross-selling is the retention of existing customers. Cross-selling is an opportunity for retailers to provide added value to their customers and therefore improve their shopping experience in the store. The customer is more likely to return in the future if they found value in the additional products that were suggested to them.

It also saves money, because retaining existing customers costs less than working to acquire new ones. Indeed, cross-selling and loyalty require less marketing spending, because the retailer is targeting customers who already know the brand and who have already engaged with it.

Find out what a good loyalty program looks like here.

Differences Between Upselling and Cross-selling

With cross-selling, the retailer encourages the customer to purchase an additional product that goes well with their initial choice. Upselling aims to persuade the customer to purchase a more expensive version of the product or service that they were already thinking about purchasing.

Let’s take the example of a customer who wants to buy a new smartphone. Upselling would consist of convincing them to buy a more expensive cell phone than the one they initially thought of buying. Cross-selling would involve getting the customer to purchase other products that pair well with the smartphone, such as a case, headphones or other accessories needed to use the phone to its full potential.

There are several techniques for successful cross-selling. These techniques take place before the sale, during the sale or after the sale.

Cross-Selling Techniques Before the Sale

Some cross-selling techniques must be done before the customer even arrives in store with the idea of purchasing a specific product.

1. Know Your Customers and Your Products

Before beginning with cross-selling techniques, it’s essential to have a good understanding of your customers. To do so, analyze the purchasing history of customers and track their buying behaviors across all your channels (store, mobile app, website, social media). Also ask customers what they need, what they prefer and what they like less. Actively listen to what your customers want to tell you.

How can your POS software help you analyze customer data? Click here to find out.

These analyses and feedback help determine what customers really want. You can then use this knowledge to personalize your offer and make relevant suggestions to your customers

These suggestions are more likely to generate conversions if they are based on products they have already purchased or shown interest in before.

This behavior tracking is used to answer several questions relevant to cross-selling. What products are often sold together? What other products do customers look at when thinking about purchasing a certain product? When people come back, what do they buy? The answers to these questions will be useful in targeting your cross-selling.

This process also allows you to identify customers most receptive to suggestions of complementary products or services. Not all customers are open to suggestions. Some people just want to buy the product they need and get out. A suggestion might just deteriorate their experience in your store.

These analyses are also useful for establishing the typical customer journey, so you can determine the ideal moment to make suggestions that enhance their purchases. An example of a good time? When the customer makes a decision or when they are at the checkout.

The customer journey also includes how they use products and how they improve their lives. If they purchase a product and see results, they are more likely to recommend your store to their friends, family and colleagues. At this point, they are also more excited to hear your cross-selling attempts. You should not attempt to cross-sell before the customer is ready.

You also need to make sure you know the characteristics and benefits of each of your products. This knowledge allows you to know which products go well together and to better promote them to customers who are open to what you have to say. It’s also important to know which products are popular to ensure you make complementary product suggestions for items highly in demand by your customers.

Knowledge of products and customers allows you to have a better idea of ​​their daily problems. By being aware of these problems, you can think of one of your products that can solve their problem and make it a cross-selling or upselling attempt. All this knowledge will also be used to personalize the offer, whether online or in the physical store.

2. Use In-store Displays

In-store displays are very important. They convey vital information to customers, whether through signage or the mere placement of products. Cross-selling can simply involve strategically placing related items near a popular product to encourage customers to consider purchasing those products too.

For example, a book store could put all the books by the same author next to each other to encourage the customer to buy several books from an author they like.

3. Present Limited-time Offers

Limited time offers create a sense of urgency and can lead to impulse purchases. For example, if a customer buys a cell phone, you can offer them a discount on a charger or cable that expires in 24 hours. You can also add a countdown timer to your website to reinforce this sense of urgency.

Daily deals, “last chance” promotional offers to loyal customers and “while supplies last” discounts are also limited-time offers to exploit to get customers to buy from your store.

4. Offer Bundles

Bundles combine a main product with some related items at a discounted price. These bundles make the customer decision-making process easier, because they reduce the number of steps in the customer journey. Instead of considering, researching, and then purchasing three complementary products separately, customers can obtain all products easily.

Bundles also help to make the added value of additional products more visible. When done well, product bundles increase the perceived value of products and lead to more sales.

A tip: use prices to your advantage. The bundle price must be less than the total price of each product purchased individually. Prices will generally be slightly lower than a round price (for example: 4.95, 9.99, 74.99). With bundles you can set round prices (for example: 5, 10, 75). This type of price allows you to emphasize added value. For example, a cosmetics store might bundle an eyeshadow palette ($23,99) with a brush ($11,99) and sell the bundle for $32 ($4 less than the total price of the two products purchased separately).

Cross-Selling Techniques During the Sale

These tips mainly concern the salesperson who will interact with the customer during their visit to the store, or even tips to apply when a customer shops online. These techniques are useful to convince customers to purchase an additional product.

1. Limit the Number of Suggestions

It’s necessary to keep cross-selling simple by limiting the number of suggestions. If you make a long list of suggestions, the customer will feel confused, overwhelmed by all the recommendations or they will see your sales techniques and refuse to buy anything.

The best technique for cross-selling is to always suggest three or four additional products that are relevant to the customer’s segment. These suggestions can be featured on the product page, in follow-up emails, or at checkout. This way, you focus your efforts on customers who have shown some openness to buy.

2. Ask Probing Questions

In store, it is in your best interest to ask probing questions to find out the customer’s needs and to test the waters. Is he receptive to recommendations? You can then use this knowledge to make suggestions tailored to the customer’s needs and preferences.

Indeed, you should not offer additional products or services to every customer. Some customers are unprofitable, such as those who return products often or use customer service a lot. These customers take more money, time and energy from you, so it’s not necessarily profitable for you to make them an offer that will cause you to lose more money.

Moreover, it is important to do a complete training of your salespeople to make them effective cross-selling agents. Also offer them incentives to motivate them to make more successful cross-selling attempts.

3. Make Suggestions

The most important cross-selling techniques: making suggestions. There are several ways to do this. Make sure to use technology to provide automatic suggestions of complementary or related products during the purchasing process.

A POS software like Alice POS can give automatic suggestions for cross-selling. 

On your website, you can add sections such as “often bought together”, “other customers have also bought” or “you might also like”. These sections are useful to get the customer to consider purchasing other products that they had not initially thought about.

These suggestions can be directly above the “add to cart” button, in a section at the bottom of the page, in the shopping cart page or even on the thank you page, after the payment.

An automated message can also give the customer the little push needed to engage with your brand and move to the purchasing stage. The best time to suggest complementary products or services is when the customer expresses their desire to make a purchase. This could be for example when a customer adds an item to their cart. A pop-up can appear at that moment to suggest items similar to the one in the cart.

In the physical store, you can use signage. For example, you can hang a poster promoting combos or “essentials” in your niche. This signage can be installed at the end of an aisle, near the checkout or above the shelves. For example, if you manage a garden center, a good idea would be a poster with “the essentials of a good gardener”.

4. Provide Added Value and Educate the Customer

The products you suggest for cross-selling should obviously not be useless. They must provide added value to the customer. It is essential that these items add a little extra to the product that the customer initially wanted to buy

Once you have established which products provide added value for the customer, it is time to educate the customer. You need to show the benefits of additional products or services and how they can be beneficial and useful to them in particular. You can do this with informative content or by doing a demonstration of the product and its benefits.

Also, be as transparent and honest as possible with your customers about additional products and services you offer. Customers will sense this transparency and be more likely to listen to you and take action. Conversely, if you use aggressive or deceptive sales tactics, customers will sense it too and will be less likely to purchase the products or services you offer them.

Cross-Selling Techniques After the Sale

These tips are mainly used to improve the customer experience after their purchase and to encourage them to come back to your store.

1. Thank the Customer

Acknowledgments are often overlooked, but they can improve the customer experience. Don’t hesitate to send an automatic email to thank customers who purchase from your online store or directly in-store, if you collect their contact information. You can also personally thank the customers who choose to purchase what you have suggested as a related product or service. Alternatively, you can put a thank you page on your website that automatically appears when a customer buys something.

It’s small, but a thank you can make the difference between an okay experience and a great experience.

2. Send Marketing Emails

A customer, whether in-store or online, who has been responsive once by purchasing a product or service you recommended to accompany what they initially wanted to buy, may make a cross-selling purchase again.You can use this knowledge by sending personalized marketing emails to these current customers based on their purchase history.

These emails include recommendations of related or complementary products to your most popular products that may interest them. These recommendations may also include the promotion of sales, product bundles, combos or other special offers.

3. Follow up and Offer Support

After a customer completes a purchase, follow up with them to offer additional support, accessories or services that will enhance and optimize their experience with the product. This kind of follow-up and support brings a feeling to the customer that you care about them and their well-being.

On your online store, if a customer has added items to their cart, but abandoned their purchases, you can send an email to reignite the spark. This email can remind the customer of what they had in their cart and suggest additional products or services based on the items in the cart and the behavior of other consumers.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things!

This tip applies at all times, before, during and after the sale. To know what works best with your store and your customers, you need to test different cross-selling methods. Measure the results of your experiments. With those insights, you will be able to determine the approach that works best with your target audience and thus maximize your revenue.

Everything can be tested: you want to identify the best products for cross-selling, establish the ideal prices, not too high to make the most sales possible, but not too low either to maximize profitability. The efforts must be well measured: do enough for the customer to buy, but without overdoing it.

And there you have it, you are now armed with the most exquisite tips to propel your sales through the magic of cross-selling! Remember, the goal is to increase your revenue by adding value to your customers’ experience, not to turn them into compulsive buyers of stuffed unicorns (even if it’s tempting).

See What Alice POS Can do For You

No obligation. No fees.