Five unforeseen benefits of cross-selling that you may not be aware of.
Let’s face it: Cross-selling and upselling have been with us for as long as we can remember. Remember when you were a kid and your mother had to slap your hand and say “no” while you were in the checkout lane at the grocery? Or how about when you bought that nice new printer? “Hey, do you have a printer cable? How about ink?” And of course, we’ve all heard that famous line when we go through the drive-thru: “You want fries with that?”
Cross-selling or being cross-sold is embedded in us. We’re used to it. It happens every single day—so much so that we’ve become oblivious to it. It is a simple and important technique used to help increase the sales and profitability of a business, especially now with online commerce. Currently, online commerce is just under five trillion USD annually, and according to statista.com, the e-commerce share of total global retail sales will be 24.5% by 2025. And it’s no surprise that Amazon is the largest of all online retailers. Next time you buy something on Amazon—and you will—look at the bottom and you will see “Customers also bought…” In 2006, Amazon estimated a 35% revenue increase from those recommendations, and it’s much higher today.
So why don’t we, as technical professionals, always cross-sell? If we look at five of the advantages of cross-selling to customers, we’ll see that they far outweigh the potential drawbacks. Cross-selling increases revenue and profit, but that’s an advantage to us. We’re going to focus on how most of these advantages help our customers as well.
We all know that building relationships takes time and resources. It’s hard work. So why not let that hard work pay off? A warm call is better than a cold call any day. An existing customer knows you and they know your company, but they might not know the full scope of your product line or services that you offer. Ask the questions and discover a need or problem. Remember the line from the animated movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: “Find a need, fill a need.” Introducing all related and complimentary products to customers that can help them solve their problems or fill that need will increase their satisfaction level and help build loyalty.
After you read this, you’re going to do a face palm. In the two years of COVID and the “Great Resignation,” I know of at least ten people who have moved on to different companies in similar positions. Go to your LinkedIn account and look at how many of your contacts have moved on. Probably a lot more than you think. If ONLY you had cross-sold them earlier. Why, you ask? Cross-selling is an efficient tool of promoting products and services that they might have otherwise never known about. And maybe that Managed File Transfer tool that they didn’t need at their old employer is just the right solution for them at this new job. Who do you think they’ll call when they realize they need one? And that leads me to the next benefit.
It’s a fact: If your customer feels cared for and is loyal to your company because of a great relationship, they’re going to recommend your company when they see a need that can be filled by a product or service you offer. By cross-selling and introducing your full product line, you create awareness. They may not have a need for an advanced Business Decision Engine or an easy-to-use Content Management System, but their buddy who is VP at a bank or their sister-in-law who owns a mortgage company might. A loyal customer who feels cared for is going to be the first to recommend you and give you the best kind of lead: A warm referral.
You may only know your customer based on a small role that they play. So how do you learn more? Cross-selling is a great way to acquire all relevant (and irrelevant) and required information and data from your customers. When you cross-sell, you’re asking questions and learning about this customer. All the information you collect gives you a better understanding of their needs and actual wants and builds a good relationship. And if you uncover something that they’re not responsible for, you’ll get one of those things I talked about in the previous paragraph: a warm referral.
I am not sure what our annual marketing budget is, but I think it is safe to say I would swap my salary for it. Attracting new business every year is a major expense for every business, regardless of what they’re selling. Econ 101 says one way to increase revenue is to lower costs, so why wouldn’t it make sense to get your existing customers to purchase more and different products in your portfolio? Through cross-selling, products and services are introduced to existing customers for a much smaller investment. Therefore, companies can reduce their marketing costs and increase revenue.
So, let’s take a moment to add these up and get a quick fifty-thousand-foot view. You’ve got existing customers that love (hopefully) at least one or more of your products. If you’ve got more great products, why wouldn’t they love them too? It is a warm lead that costs you nothing, and conversing with them about your other products helps build customer loyalty and gives you a better understanding of them and their business. If there isn’t a need right now, you may see a referral to someone else inside the organization or another potential customer. Hopefully, you’ll agree that with these great benefits, it only makes sense to cross-sell. Good luck!
Thom Tate is a Senior Sales Engineer for Progress Software. Based in north Georgia, he supports North America across the entire Progress product portfolio. In his spare time, he is the head coach of the Kennesaw State University Women’s Club Lacrosse team, and he is the author of the Covert World series of spy thrillers.
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