Cross Selling – Dirty Word or Good Service?

Imagine going to a restaurant and not being offered coffee or dessert, or even a drink? Would you be grateful that the staff didn’t try to cross sell to you or would you think that you had been given bad service?

Cross selling

Sometimes confused with upselling; cross selling happens when you offer additional products that are complimentary to the original purchase. For example, you might offer a customer a bottle of prosecco with their afternoon tea gift delivery purchase, or maybe a side order of extra scones. Upselling happens when you upgrade the purchase to a more expensive version. In this case, going from a cream tea to an afternoon tea, or a basic website to an all singing, all dancing one.

The benefit of good cross selling is that you are improving the customer experience. When you understand the needs of your customer, and their challenges, you are actually helping them by cross selling. Offering complimentary products at the right time in the purchasing experience could actually be seen by your customer as a huge help and just good service.

Getting the timing right is essential though. Imagine being asked if you want dessert when you are just finishing your starter? That would show a distinct lack of understanding, would be extremely annoying, and would 90% of the time end up with a firm no! But, when you ask at the end of the meal, the take up rate will be much, much higher!

How do you do it?

There are a few ways you could cross sell to your customers. On websites, you’ll often you’ll see suggestions of complimentary products at different stages of the process. Many eCommerce packages allow you to assign relevant cross sells when you create a product, or allow you to offer convenient bundles. Make sure they are relevant though, I once tried to order an afternoon tea and the website suggested a grazing platter! Hardly a complimentary item, I might have been tempted by some posh tea though!

You could also do this at the checkout in your shop. If a customer comes to the till with an apple pir, they might be interested in an offer of custard, for example! Or maybe, they would appreciate being offered gift wrapping. If you maintain a good email marketing list, you could use that to cross sell. But, that becomes a little more strategic than just offering a packet of candles to a customer that picks up a birthday cake, so be careful!

See our blog on using the legitimate interest rule before you try cross selling via email!

So, why cross sell?

We can already see how it can actually be great service to your customers. In some cases you might be drawing their attention to a new item they didn’t know about, or maybe you are just making a bundle that offers even better value that you imagined. Being able to anticipate our customers potential needs and recommend items that will solve their problems, is always going to earn you “brownie points”. Dog trainers that sell bags of treats at their classes realise that their customers often forget their own. This way, there is no need for their customers to miss out on the training!

It’s also good for you. It often doesn’t take much additional work to add extra products or services to an existing sale either. So, the extra income is great for your business. If you are already delivering an afternoon tea, it is no extra work to deliver extra scones. And probably doesn’t take any extra time if you are already baking scones anyway. This type of service and forethought is also the kind of thing that could earn you a great review. It’s about understanding your customers, anticipating their needs, and providing something that will help them.

Know your value

Many people are anxious to cross sell because they think people hate being sold to. And they are right some of the time. No-one likes being sold things they don’t want, or think they can’t use. Mountain warehouse force their staff to cross sell items at the checkout. No one has taken the time to check if the items are useful for the specific customer. But, nevertheless, they are incentivised to sell them.

Understanding how our products and services actually change peoples lives is the key to confidentially cross selling. Also, understanding how our products and services are used is essential. If you know your product is going to be used as part of a picnic it might be useful to offer napkins and cutlery. You know these touches are often forgotten about, but you’ve got it covered. If your product is a Christmas day gift and needs batteries then offer them. We’ve all been there on Christmas morning with an exciting new toy and disappointed kids.

If you know the value of what you are offering, you’ll know how your products help people. If you know that, you’ll be able to confidentially recommend your products to people, because you know how helpful they are.

What could you cross sell?

What kinds of things do your customers often forget? Is there anything you could offer that compliments your existing product or service? We’ve mentioned a few possibilities already, but here’s a few more suggestions from us…

Dog groomers might sell doggy perfume or accessories. A cake designer might sell candles or balloons. Shop owners might offer home delivery. Matching accessories could be offered with a handbag or item of clothing. A dog trainer might sell clickers. Photographer might sell desk photos or digital headshots, and finally, a gardener might sell lawn treatments!


How would your business benefit from a 1-1 with an experienced business adviser/coach?

Book a consultation with us now and we’ll help you figure out the right sales strategy for your business!