Tag Archive: up_sell

Sell Me Something I Don’t Know: Tips for Cross- and Upselling Customers

Sell Me Something I Don’t Know: Tips for Cross- and Upselling Customers.by Robert Lerose.

Have you ever ordered a meal at a restaurant and been asked by the waiter if you’d like a salad to go along with it? Or, just as you’re ready to buy a 42-inch flat screen TV, the salesman informs you that for just a few dollars more, you can get the 50-inch model? And, oh by the way—how about a deluxe surge protector to go along with that?

If you answered yes, then you were the subject of two well known, but infrequently used sales techniques: cross-selling and upselling.

PQ_SellMeSomething.jpgSimply put, cross-selling offers a product or service that is related to the original purchase (the salad). Upselling moves the customer to a higher-priced transaction. And both can add substantial revenue to any business.

Best leads: your existing customers

Since you’ve already spent time and money to build your house list, cross-selling and upselling to previous buyers is more cost-effective than acquiring new customers. You can leverage their loyalty and your established credibility.

“Your customers are your most valuable asset, no matter what size your business,” says Pat Friesen, who runs a Kansas City-based business strategy and copywriting agency. “Someone who knows and trusts you is more likely to buy again, buy more, and buy more often.”

For those who think that these techniques are only effective during flush times when businesses have excess capital to spend, Friesen disagrees.

Over the last couple of years, while some companies chose to hunker down and wait out the recession, a lot of smart marketers turned to their list of lapsed or inactive buyers and went after leads that they had not converted yet.

As an example, she found that insurance companies who pursued all their inactive policyholders (including lapses, cancellations, and unconverted prospects) generated handsome returns. Moreover, since they already owned the names and weren’t working from cold lists, their prospecting costs were lower.

“They’d already paid for these customers/leads. There was already a relationship of some sort established, even if it was minimal,” Friesen says. “If people were going to spend money during hard times, they wanted to make sure they trusted the people getting their money.”

Dispelling the myths of cross-selling

Businesses that are reluctant to embrace these techniques often fall back on outdated excuses about their suitability. A big misconception is that a business will come across as pushy, trying to coerce a sale that the customer doesn’t want.

“The benefit in the long run is that you can help your customer by offering additional services and products that they may not be aware you have,” says Kelley Robertson of the Robertson Training Group, an Ontario, Canada-based sales training and coaching company.

Robertson practices what he preaches by offering a CD or a book whenever he does a training session. It’s another way to stay on a customer’s radar screen and earn extra income for his own small business.

Another myth is the fear that businesses will over-communicate and turn off their customers.

Not so, says Robertson.

He will typically send out weekly emails over the course of three weeks to announce a new product or service, changing only the subject line. Even though he may turn off some subscribers, he has found that he more than makes up for it with new revenue he generates.

“As long as you continue to provide some type of value to your customers, they’ll listen to your sales letters or your sales pitches,” Robertson says.

Put a program in place

Often, sales people stop selling prematurely. One way to counteract this is to put a sales training system in place that makes it easy to learn from successes and failures. To lay the groundwork for an effective cross-selling and upselling culture in a company, Robertson recommends a simple, three-step plan.

First, create a checklist of add-on products and services. Then link them to other relevant offerings in your inventory so your sales team can see the potential universe of additional sales.

Next, instill the idea that upselling or cross-selling actually benefits the customer as well as your small business. Your customers get solutions and you generate extra revenue.

Lastly, ensure your sales people are asking enough questions to find out the goals, objectives, and problems of your customers. Once they have that information, they can better match your products and services to their situation. Hidden opportunities can often be uncovered with some targeted probing.

Robertson experienced this serendipity himself recently. During a casual conversation with one of his clients, he mentioned that he had a particular expertise that the client was in need of—and unaware that Robertson provided.

“It was one of those things that I hadn’t thought about because we had never had a conversation about that,” he recalls. “Don’t underestimate what your customer might be looking for. Take the chance. Make that suggestion.”

Whether your small business sells plumbing supplies or time management software, there are a number of ways to start the conversation:

“Mention what the customer has bought in the past, especially if there is a direct tie between the original product and what you are now offering,” Friesen says. “Also thank your customer for his/her past business. Thank you is a great way to start a letter.”

Bundle different items into one package (think McDonald’s Super-sizing) and offer it at a price that is lower than the combined price if purchased separately but more than if the customer just bought one item.

Use expert recommendations to influence behavior and drive sales. Amazon uses this method extensively, which is one reason their revenues surged over $10 billion in 2011.

Set up an auto-responder program or pop-up window on your website that automatically offers cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Sell Me Something I Don’t Know: Tips for Cross- and Upselling Customers

Sell Me Something I Don’t Know: Tips for Cross- and Upselling Customersby Robert Lerose.  

Have you ever ordered a meal at a restaurant and been asked by the waiter if you’d like a salad to go along with it? Or, just as you’re ready to buy a 42-inch flat screen TV, the salesman informs you that for just a few dollars more, you can get the 50-inch model? And, oh by the way—how about a deluxe surge protector to go along with that?

 

If you answered yes, then you were the subject of two well known, but infrequently used sales techniques: cross-selling and upselling.

 

PQ_SellMeSomething.jpgSimply put, cross-selling offers a product or service that is related to the original purchase (the salad). Upselling moves the customer to a higher-priced transaction. And both can add substantial revenue to any business.

 

Best leads: your existing customers

Since you’ve already spent time and money to build your house list, cross-selling and upselling to previous buyers is more cost-effective than acquiring new customers. You can leverage their loyalty and your established credibility.

 

“Your customers are your most valuable asset, no matter what size your business,” says Pat Friesen, who runs a Kansas City-based business strategy and copywriting agency. “Someone who knows and trusts you is more likely to buy again, buy more, and buy more often.”

 

For those who think that these techniques are only effective during flush times when businesses have excess capital to spend, Friesen disagrees.

 

Over the last couple of years, while some companies chose to hunker down and wait out the recession, a lot of smart marketers turned to their list of lapsed or inactive buyers and went after leads that they had not converted yet.

 

As an example, she found that insurance companies who pursued all their inactive policyholders (including lapses, cancellations, and unconverted prospects) generated handsome returns. Moreover, since they already owned the names and weren’t working from cold lists, their prospecting costs were lower.

 

“They’d already paid for these customers/leads. There was already a relationship of some sort established, even if it was minimal,” Friesen says. “If people were going to spend money during hard times, they wanted to make sure they trusted the people getting their money.”

 

Dispelling the myths of cross-selling

Businesses that are reluctant to embrace these techniques often fall back on outdated excuses about their suitability. A big misconception is that a business will come across as pushy, trying to coerce a sale that the customer doesn’t want.

 

“The benefit in the long run is that you can help your customer by offering additional services and products that they may not be aware you have,” says Kelley Robertson of the Robertson Training Group, an Ontario, Canada-based sales training and coaching company.

 

Robertson practices what he preaches by offering a CD or a book whenever he does a training session. It’s another way to stay on a customer’s radar screen and earn extra income for his own small business.

 

Another myth is the fear that businesses will over-communicate and turn off their customers.

 

Not so, says Robertson.

 

He will typically send out weekly emails over the course of three weeks to announce a new product or service, changing only the subject line. Even though he may turn off some subscribers, he has found that he more than makes up for it with new revenue he generates.

 

“As long as you continue to provide some type of value to your customers, they’ll listen to your sales letters or your sales pitches,” Robertson says.

 

Put a program in place

Often, sales people stop selling prematurely. One way to counteract this is to put a sales training system in place that makes it easy to learn from successes and failures. To lay the groundwork for an effective cross-selling and upselling culture in a company, Robertson recommends a simple, three-step plan.

 

First, create a checklist of add-on products and services. Then link them to other relevant offerings in your inventory so your sales team can see the potential universe of additional sales.

 

Next, instill the idea that upselling or cross-selling actually benefits the customer as well as your small business. Your customers get solutions and you generate extra revenue.

 

Lastly, ensure your sales people are asking enough questions to find out the goals, objectives, and problems of your customers. Once they have that information, they can better match your products and services to their situation. Hidden opportunities can often be uncovered with some targeted probing.

 

Robertson experienced this serendipity himself recently. During a casual conversation with one of his clients, he mentioned that he had a particular expertise that the client was in need of—and unaware that Robertson provided.

 

“It was one of those things that I hadn’t thought about because we had never had a conversation about that,” he recalls. “Don’t underestimate what your customer might be looking for. Take the chance. Make that suggestion.”

 

Whether your small business sells plumbing supplies or time management software, there are a number of ways to start the conversation:

 

  • “Mention what the customer has bought in the past, especially if there is a direct tie between the original product and what you are now offering,” Friesen says. “Also thank your customer for his/her past business. Thank you is a great way to start a letter.”
  • Bundle different items into one package (think McDonald’s Super-sizing) and offer it at a price that is lower than the combined price if purchased separately but more than if the customer just bought one item.

 

  • Use expert recommendations to influence behavior and drive sales. Amazon uses this method extensively, which is one reason their revenues surged over $10 billion in 2011.
  • Set up an auto-responder program or pop-up window on your website that automatically offers cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

5 Innovative Ways to Generate New Business

In his great book The E-Myth, Michael Gerber says that many small business owners spend too much time working in their business and not enough time working on their business. Why is working on our business so important?

Because clients and customers leave.

They leave for all sorts of reasons – maybe they don’t need you anymore, or they found what you do somewhere else that is more convenient or cheaper, or they moved, or whatever. Working on your business means it is not a crisis when a customer leaves.

Here then are five innovative ways to work on your business – to grow your business – without breaking the bank:

1. Tap into the Power of Testimonials: Satisfied customers can be one of a small business’ best marketing tools. A testimonial impresses potential customers because it is an independent third-party validation that a business really is as good as it claims to be.

So get out there and ask some of your best customers to write you some letters of recommendation on their stationary. Then you can take these testimonials and:

Put them in your shop window
Add them to your website
Add them as an email tagline
Use them on your blog or e-newsletter
Use them in sales presentations

What about adding a video testimonial to your website? Talk about making an impact.

2. Boost Your Word-of- Mouth Advertising: We all know that word –of-mouth is the best sort of advertising there is. But aside from just waiting or hoping that a customer passes your name along, you can:

Create a referral reward system that gives customers a discount when they refer you business
Encourage comments on your Facebook page, blog or website
Ask your best customers to recommend you

Finally, check out the organization Le Tip; a group whose purpose is to foster word of mouth referrals.

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss.

3. Stay in Touch: One way to make a one-off customer into a loyal, repeat customer is to remain top of mind. If you want to get repeat business, your customer has to think of you when he or she has a need. They will more likely think of you if you gently, consistently (but not too often) stay in touch with them.

Here are two ways to do this:

Social media is all the rage for a reason: It works. Creating a Facebook page for instance is easy, and through contests and great content, you can get people to “like” it. Thereafter, that page becomes a friendly place to stay in touch. Tweeting can also be used.
Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch because it is permission marketing, that is, by signing up to receive your e-newsletter; customers are giving you permission to stay in touch with them.

4. Sell gift certificates and gift cards: You see gift cards for sale everywhere these days – at the market, in department stores, heck, I even saw some for sale recently at my car wash. Bottom line: Gift cards sell, it is estimated that up to 10 percent of all holiday sales now are in the form of gift cards.

Gift cards cannot only be used by large businesses. Any small business can and should create them as well. Also, if you currently accept debit and credit card payments, check with your card processor to see if they offer a gift card program.

5. Up-sell, but do it right: As you likely know, up-selling is the art of having a customer buy more than their initial purchase. Up-selling, when done wrong, is annoying, but when done right can help both you and your customer. The key is to offer the item in a helpful, non-aggressive way, i.e., “Did you know that if you buy two more gift soaps, we throw in another one for free?” If they say they are not interested, don’t pursue it any further, or you may be seen as overbearing and pushy.

What types of approaches do you use to get new business? What have you found that works/doesn’t work? Share your tips with the SBOC community below.

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here.