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Eight Ideas for Cross Selling Success
Many early stage businesses that offer more than one product or service can do a much be
tter job of educating customers on the different solutions they deliver. This type of cross se
lling can be a highly effective tool for a small business.
When you cross-sell, you offer the customer a product or service related to whatever they
are already buying. It can be as simple as the waiter asking if you want a salad to go with y
our main course. Up-selling positions higher priced products in a good/better/best progres
sion. Both methods of encouraging clients to spend a little more can dramatically boost yo
But maybe you worry about irritating them with too many sales pitches to buy more. Don’t.
Surveys show that most buyers appreciate being told about additional products or services
that might better meet their needs or about new items that were not offered in the past. It’s
a way of demonstrating that you are aware of their needs and care about their satisfaction.
Here are some ideas to help you improve your cross selling success:
Ideas to improve your opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling
Let nature take its course. Many cross-selling opportunities arise naturally. If you are selling
tennis racquets, for example, you can also offer a bag, balls, lessons and accessories. To
gain the extra sale, you might simply have to mention that the other products or services ar
Stay relevant. If you overload customers with too many unrelated cross-selling suggestion
s, you may blow it. Offering socks with shoes is certainly a good fit. But if your attempts to
cross-sell are not closely related to the original purchase, they are far less likely to succee
Post expert recommendations. One way to facilitate cross-selling and up-selling success i
s to state specific recommendations from professionals, experts or other customers. This c
ould be a chef’s recommendation on a menu, a doctor’s recommendation on a mailer, or li
sts of related items that other customers have purchased on a website. When you buy a bo
ok at Amazon.com, for example, the site automatically lists other books purchased by peop
le who bought the same book you just ordered.
Train employees in cross-selling techniques. The approach must be built around serving th
e customer, not just selling more stuff. For example, you might describe how the additional
products or services would complement the original purchase and further solve the custom
Timing is important. Cross-selling and up-selling can occur at different times, depending o
n the products and services you are selling. In some cases, the best time is while a custom
er is trying something out. If they are looking at a low priced digital camera, for example, b
ut seem disappointed in a lack of features or performance, they may really want a higher pri
ced model. Or you could suggest a belt to go with a pair of pants while the customer is tryi
ng them on. Other items are more appropriately offered once the initial buying decision has
been made, such as an extended warranty.
Leverage the cross-selling potential of your website. Position cross-sell and up-sell items t
hroughout your site in places where they can help educate shoppers on the depth and varie
ty of what your business offers. Try mixing and matching different items to see what works
Offer a range of prices. If you suggest three items to complement a product, try to offer a
mix of price points. The lowest cost items are most likely to be picked up as impulse buys.
But other items that meet the customer’s needs can also sell at higher levels.
Try product or service bundles. Bundling has long been used as a way to entice shoppers t
o buy not just a single item, but an entire group of items that go together. Offering a price
break on package deals will help close the sale.
Our Bottom Line:
The key to successful cross-selling and up-selling is to focus your efforts on meeting the c
ustomer’s needs, rather than simply pushing more products and services. This is one area
of startup marketing where you may need to do a little experimentation in order to find just t
he right balance, but you need to make cross selling a key component of your list of sales t
Seven Cross-selling tips
Choose correctly complementary products.
Use an automated recommendation system based on past purchases.
List best-sold products.
Target your clients; Estimate which clients are suitable candidates for the cross-selling pro
cess, create clients' behavior profiles and models.
Provide your clients with good customer service. This will help repeat sales, when you have
higher chances of cross-selling and especially up-selling.
Inform your clients correctly about the opportunity to buy an additional product without forci
ng them to wonder or search.
Keep track of refusals to accept cross-selling or up-selling offers.
Cross-selling online - things to keep in mind
Suggest additional products and include a direct "add to cart" checkbox under the main pro
duct picture. The function of the "add to cart" checkbox is to allow the promoted cross-sell
ing products to be added to the shopping cart simultaneously with the main product.
Also, the additional products should be familiar to the buyer. Because it is advisable not to
have an additional page for the cross-selling product description, choose products that ca
n be added directly to the shopping cart without links to other pages.
It is very useful then to provide pictures and useful information in the cross-selling page. T
he additional product pictures should be bigger than "thumbnails" but smaller than the main
product picture. Try cross-selling directly in the shopping cart page but also in other pages
of the site where you can help clients find more about your products. To see which product
association is bringing you best results try as many product combinations as you can.
In the product's presentation page add no more than three cross-selling elements; the addi
tional products should be cheaper that the one chosen initially for purchase. Also you can u
se a "Before you Check out" technique, including the additional products before the order p
rocess is finalized. This technique is a good way to cross-sell add-ons for your software pr
Based on the definition of up-selling, the additional product offered should be more expen
sive that the main product. Carefully keep track of customer's behavior and needs because
this technique is more risky than the cross selling technique since you are trying to sell som
ething more expensive.
Underline the added value of the expensive product, for example "Buy a two-year license a
nd save." The up-selling offer should be recommended in the product presentation page, b
efore adding the product to the shopping cart.
Don't forget to use new releases. Point out against the suggested additional product (for in
stance on the product's picture) that is "Just released" or "New version." Add a link on the p
roduct image to a page with details; don't simply add it into the cart. The client must under
stand the benefits of choosing the up-selling offer. Offer discounts and special promotion
Another important aspect is helping the client decide to buy as a result of a pleasant experi
ence. The website should be intuitive and easy to use, should inspire trust and confidence,
should be functional (no dead links, fast loading pages) and provide enough product detail
The Do's and Don'ts of Upselling and
Penny Schneck -- Furniture Today, July 31, 2009
One of the easiest ways to improve your bottom line is, of course, to get existing customer
s to increase their average order size. Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to up
sell and cross sell your regular online customers?
Up selling is defined as offering customers a product that is more expensive than the produ
ct they are currently considering or to add options/features to the product they are buying.
Cross selling refers to selling items that are complementary to the item they are purchasing.
Not only will cross selling and up selling improve your bottom line, but their good customer
service - as long as your suggestions are relevant and informative.
Following are some do's and don'ts you can implement on your e-commerce site to boost
• Do continue to sell on the thank you or exit page. The most common locations for a
dd-on sales are the product page and view cart page. However, there are several other gre
at locations for suggesting additional purchases. Typically, the thank you page confirms the
transaction, but be sure to include promotional copy at this point, too. Consider including a
nother product image and description with a simple instructions on how to add the recomm
ended product to the original order. Your customers should be able to purchase the additio
nal item without having to go through the entire check-out process a second time. Even if y
ou decide not to offer an additional product on the thank you page, this is a great place to
ask customers to sign up for your enewsletter or emails on upgrades, new items and specia
• Remember to add links to special offers in your email confirmations!
• Do use your shopping cart technology to automate the cross selling and up selling
• If you don't have the latest online shopping cart to cross sell, simply add links to si
milar products on your product pages with copy such as "People like you who purchased th
is product also purchased this product". You also can add bundled packages of goods to y
our site catalog in addition to selling the products individually. Test bundles with different pr
• Be sure highlight discounts for buying in quantity.
• Sales appeal. Everyone is looking for bargains these days so be sure to highlight sal
es, special offers and other discounts.
• Discounts on shipping once a customer reaches a certain volume are a win-win for
buyer and seller. You'll get the incremental sale and your customers will feel they've come
• If you want to sell a high-priced item you can first prepare your customer by selling
several low priced items. I.e. create and market several low-cost items that lead the custo
mer to purchase the high priced item.
• Be sure to personalize your recommendations. "People like you who purchased this"
works better than "Customers who purchased this".
• Consider "top rated" or "bestseller" suggestions with reviews from other shoppers to
help build credibility for your recommendations.
• Stay relevant. Make sure the product you are trying to cross sell actually relates to t
he product the customer is purchasing. Offering a reading lamp for a desk makes perfect s
• Do test your cross selling and up selling to see which strategy and combinations wo
rks best for you. Try mixing and matching different items to find the combination that gener
ates the most amount of revenue.
Now for the Don'ts:
• Don't interfere in the original purchase process. Wait until the customer has put so
mething in their shopping cart before recommending additional items.
• Don't use the cross sell tactic to simply unload unwanted inventory. If the item is a
discontinued item, be sure to let the customer know.
• Don't try to cross sell a new product. The features and benefits of a new product ta
ke time to explain. Cross sell purchases are typically impulse buys that are no-brainers for t
• Don't be pushy when it comes to add-on sales. These should be recommendation
s. Put your customer's interests first and view cross selling and up selling as a means to ed
ucate your audience. In fact, Jupiter Media Metrix reports that online merchants also should
be looking for cross-selling as a way to increase customer value over time.
• Don't try to sell a big-ticket item as a cross sell. Generally speaking the incremental
add-on should be 10-25% of the price of the original item already in the customer's shoppi
ng cart. Adding additional items to the shopping cart process is similar to adding that maga
zine, candy or drink to your shopping cart when you are in the check-out lane at the grocer
Finally, don't miss out on the opportunity to cross sell and up sell or you risk leaving revenu
e and profit per order on the table!