3 Simple Ways to Cross-Sell - Business Hack Series

Another effective hack that all businesses should consider is the cross-sell.

Cross-Selling Defined

Cross-selling is the art of offering a complementary product or service to a customer who is in the process of purchasing.  The idea of a cross sell is to provide in additional product that complements the product they have already decided to purchase.  While some may think that a cross-sell is an unnecessary extra pushed on them by a pushy salesperson, the reality is that the product or service that is offered in a cross-sell is often very beneficial to the purchasing customer.

Cross-Selling Examples

For example, if a parent is purchasing a Christmas present at Toys "R" Us and happens to choose a toy that requires batteries, it is important for the parent to also purchase batteries to accompany the gift.  Without batteries, a disappointed child would not be able to play with his new favorite toy on Christmas day and an otherwise joyful day could become miserable for the disappointed child.  

Toys "R" Us really does a great job of offering batteries to many of their customers purchasing toys that require batteries.

Amazon is also another company that does a great job with cross-selling. One of the ways they cross-sell is to show shoppers several other items that shoppers just like them purchased (or viewed) when purchasing the item they are looking at.

For example, someone who is purchasing a microphone for a podcast would likely need a microphone stand, applicable cables, and a pop filter to block wind noise that is created on some microphones.  When Amazon offers all of these cross-sell opportunities, the microphone purchaser has an opportunity to get accessories that they may not have otherwise thought about.  

Cross-selling can be a powerful tool to benefit both the customer and the business because the items that are being offered are often items that the customer is going to need anyway.  If a business does not cross sell these items, then the customer may actually end up purchasing the item(s) from a competitor.

Business Hack Application

Cross-selling is a powerful hack that any business could implement, regardless of the industry.

The following are three ways that any business could cross-sell a product or service:

  1. Complementing Product:  One of the best ways to cross-sell is to offer a complementing product or service.  For example, my Father recently took me to his favorite wine shop in Carmel, IN, just down from where my brother lives.  This store specializes in two things: wine and cheese.  These two foods have traditionally gone together and this business has specialized in offering "pairing" recommendations where they try to sell a cheese with every wine.  Any business can offer a complementing product by utilizing the "if, then" model.  Basically, the "if, then" model works by saying "if you like this, then....(cross-sell recommendation)."

  2. Add-On Component:  Another way to cross-sell is to offer an add-on component to what they are purchasing.  Slightly different from the up-sell, the add-on product is an additional product or service that doesn't provide an up-grade, but rather is a requirement of the product.  Just as many toys require batteries, floors require cleaning, sheets require washing, and shoes must be polished.  Each of these add-on components are eventually going to be purchased by the customer, whether or not they are need immediately.

  3. Mirrored Item: A final way to cross-sell is to offer a mirrored product or service.  A mirrored product or service is just an additional, almost identical item that is used for another reason.  Generally, there are two ways to offer a mired item.  The first reason is to have a back-up of the item, such as a spare tire.  Another reason may be to have the identical product or service in a different location, such as a phone charge for both work and home.  Whatever the reason, a mirrored item is a cross-sell that results in an additional purchase of the same original item.

What cross-sell methods have you seen successfully utilized?