Looking for a quick and easy way to increase your online sales without significantly increasing your sales efforts? Long-time sellers have learned how to propagate the momentum of one sale into multiple sales through the method of cross-selling.
Simply put, it's the technique of offering additional items related to what a customer is already buying from you. When you offer many items concurrently, you can increase your sales rates by simply calling attention to related goods your customer might like in addition to what they're currently purchasing.
If you haven't yet tried this technique in your selling, now is the time to discover how you can sell more items in a single transaction, creating a value-rich experience for your customers while tallying up some additional revenue for yourself.
While the customer is in 'buying mode,' suggest another item or two that would be of use or value
The 'how' and 'why' of cross-selling
Cross-selling is an effective sales method since it works to harness the natural momentum of a transaction, for both the buyer and the seller. The first task of any seller is to engage a customer in a transaction. When you offer desirable goods in a compelling manner, such that you convince and motivate a customer to make a purchase, you've just cleared the first hurdle toward a sale.
Now, while the customer is engaged with wallet in hand (that is, in "buying mode"), you can suggest another item or two that would be of additional use or value. For example, if you sell sports memorabilia, you could suggest additional items that represent a particular sports team or even a particular player. If the customer is seeking more than just the single item, it would make sense that they look at the additional relevant goods.
The key to cross-selling is that the items you suggest are truly relevant to what the customer is buying, and are of relevant value, more or less, to what they've already chosen to buy. To this point, refrain from insulting a customer by suggesting another item that's wildly more expensive than what they've already chosen to purchase. And be sure your cross-selling offer is a "suggestion" and isn't perceived as pushy or overly ambitious—buyers will avoid you in the future if they feel you're a high-pressure sales person.
Work smarter, not harder
For you, the seller, cross-selling is a tool of efficiency and greater return on effort and investment. Think of the effort and attention you give to each of your sales listings. You begin with well-crafted item titles, ensuring use of the best keyword search terms. You write helpful and thorough item descriptions. You include compelling images to give that visual nudge that an interested buyer make a purchase from you.
When you give this sort of effort to each and every one of your online listings, it becomes easy to help prospective shoppers find and inspect other items that you've likewise presented in stellar fashion. Rather than hope a buyer might return to make another purchase, similar to what they've just bought from you, tell them what else you offer while you already have their attention. Since each of your items is offered in a well-crafted presentation style, the hard work is already done; just point your customer over to the item.
Tips for cross-selling success
As you can see, cross-selling can be a relatively easy proposition. Here are some additional tips to consider when you employ the method in your sales:
Offer a scale of relevant goods to let the customer have some power of choice in the cross-sell
- Keep the suggestions relevant. As previously mentioned, cross-selling works best when the items you suggest are truly related to what a customer has already chosen to buy. If you offer napkin rings, suggest cloth napkins. If you offer candles, suggest candle holders. You get the idea.
- Online, limit the cross-sell offerings. When you cross-sell online, try to limit your additional suggestions to no more than three relevant items. If you make too many cross-sell pitches, your customers may feel as if it's too difficult to make a simple purchase from you. Remember, your goal is to sell the item they've already chosen, first and foremost. Cross-selling should increase your ability to sell one or two additional items, but never cause the customer to drop what they had previously chosen and leave your virtual store without making any purchase. Keep the experience easy and convenient, above and beyond anything else.
- Provide extra value for additional purchases. Be sure to let customers know they can save on shipping costs when they purchase additional items in a single purchase. Customer love the idea of getting a better deal and saving money from a bundled purchase as opposed to several "one off" buys. Provide suitable discounts and savings when they choose additional goods.
- Offer price choices, too. Going back to the candle example, consider offering several different styles and price points of relevant candle holders. When you offer a scale of quality relevant goods, you let the customer have some power of choice in the cross-sell. They might choose the lowest-cost candle holder or they might buy a higher-priced offering. When you give them a choice, you help them maintain control in what else they'll purchase and at what price.
- Keep the cross-selling focused on your customers. When you offer additional relevant and reasonable goods to a ready buyer, you communicate your interest in providing more value, helping them in their shopping quests, and possibly solving a problem: "I love these candles, but what sort of candle holder would work best?" Keep the customer in mind as you identify and offer relevant items and they'll be more inclined to make the additional purchase.
Cross-selling is a time-honored method to increase sales while you have your customers' active attention. When they've indicated they're ready to buy, try indicating another item or two that they might also want or need. You'll be amazed at how many will say, "Yes, I'll take that, too!"
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Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.
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