Sometimes the way to boost sales is to get more business from your existing customers. Customers who buy certain goods or services from you will likely buy related products and services—with a little encouragement. That encouragement, called cross selling, involves gently reminding customers to consider purchasing related products you offer.
Here are four methods you can put into action.
1. Listen and Bundle
As customers describe what they’re after, anticipate which related products or services might also interest them. Lenny Kharitonov, president of Unlimited Furniture Group Inc. in Brooklyn, N.Y., offers additional items toward the end of a sale. “If someone is finalizing a purchase of a bedroom set, we will offer either an extended warranty or a mattress at the end of the transaction,” he says. “The key is to listen to clients to figure out what other needs they might have.”
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2. Use a Database to Follow Up
Perhaps a customer’s interest in additional products or services is there, they’re just not ready yet. Rather than letting that extra sale slip away, “Put info like who didn’t buy a car this year into a marketing and sales database,” says Kent Ekstrom, president of Ekstrom & Associates, a marketing and sales consultancy in West Jordan, Utah. Set reminders to follow up with customers after a certain amount of time to see if he or she is now able to acquire that related product. Your database doesn’t have to be a fancy affair; Ekstrom says you can use as simple a program as Excel.
3. Entice with Free Samples
Sometimes customers need to experience the suggested product to get on board. Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese is the founding artist and owner of Twisted Limb Paperworks, a Bloomington, Ind., company that crafts handmade custom invitations from recycled materials. “One way that we cross-sell is to send a complimentary draft of a matching thank-you note design when we send a customer's invitation design for approval,” Woodhouse-Keese says.
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4. Offer Discounts
Offer a discount on the additional product(s). “We offer 15 percent off the thank-you notes, waive the typical design fee and remind the customers that they will not [pay] additional shipping,” Woodhouse-Keese says. She enjoys a high return on her discounts. “Over 90 percent of the customers agree to add the thank-you notes to their order.”
This article originally appeared as a "MyBusiness Extra" (Feb/March 2012). Learn More about NFIB's MyBusiness Magazine that strives to deliver our members updates and resources that they need to own, operate, and grow their businesses.