Dear business.com: We’re looking to expand our marketing reach and would like to explore how to promote jointly with noncompeting businesses. Do you have some ideas on how and where to do that? – Partnering Up
Why sell just one product or service when you could sell two or three? And why promote to only your own prospect lists when other businesses could help you promote to their lists as well? That, in short, is what cross-selling and cross promotion are about – two inexpensive and cost-effective ways to generate sales and expand your marketing efforts.
How to cross-sell your products or services
You can also cross-sell within your own business by offering customers a product or service related to what they are already buying. It can be as simple as the waiter asking if the customer wants a salad to go with the main course. It’s a subtle way of encouraging clients to spend a little more.
And customers generally don’t mind. A survey suggests that cross-selling may be effective. However, it’s also a way of demonstrating that you are aware of customers’ needs and that you care about their satisfaction.
The key to successful cross-selling is to focus your efforts on meeting the customer’s needs rather than simply pushing more products and services. Treat the cross-selling process like a suggestion so customers will volunteer more information about their requirements.
Here are some ways to improve your opportunities for cross-selling:
- Stay focused. Don’t overload customers with unrelated cross-selling suggestions. You might simply need to mention that the other products or services are available for the customer’s consideration.
- Train your team. Build your approach around serving the customer, not just selling more stuff. Describe how the additional products or services can further solve the customer’s problem.
- Cross-sell online. Position cross-sell items on your website where they can help educate shoppers on the depth and variety of what you offer. Mix and match items.
- Offer a range of prices. If you suggest three items to complement a product, offer a mix of price points.
- Post expert recommendations. One way to facilitate cross-selling is to provide specific recommendations from professionals, experts or other customers. This could be a chef’s recommendation on a menu, a doctor’s recommendation on a mailer or lists of related items that other customers have purchased on your website.
- Try product or service bundles. Bundling has long been used as a way to entice shoppers to 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.
- Build relationships. Cross-selling requires that your business have a good relationship with the brands you choose to cross-sell your product with. Take the time to ask questions. This will help you to identify the right products and services for your customers as well as improve your cross-selling opportunities.
- Quality counts. One of the best ways to ensure successful cross-selling is by not using this as an opportunity to move unwanted inventory. If you are attempting to clear stock and your product will benefit from cross-selling, make your intentions clear, and let the customer know that you are clearing stock that cannot be replaced.
- Manage your expectations. It’s important to move slowly and understand that your efforts may not have immediate results. It takes time to build trust. Instead of assuming that what is right for you is right for the other person, focus on what you can do to develop the relationship.
It’s essential that you understand the difference between upselling and cross-selling; the most important thing to remember during the cross-selling process is that there isn’t a substitute for good customer service. Cross-selling can generate excellent results, but it takes time, and you must make the other person/customer feel as though they have made a beneficial recommendation.
One example of a successful cross-promotion strategy
Consider French Toast, a school uniform company that sells almost everything kids need to wear to school, except shoes.
French Toast swapped coupons in its outgoing mail orders with shoe seller Stride Rite Kids. Both businesses were targeting the same customers (moms with school-age kids), but one sold school uniforms and the other sold kids’ shoes. So, both could benefit from the partnership.
French Toast partnered with Stride Rite at CrossPartner.com, a website that facilitated such matchups. CrossPartner allows members to post, buy or swap marketing opportunities, such as coupon inserts, signage, invoice stuffers, internet banners, emails, menu ads and event sponsorships on its site.
Even if you don’t want to cross market yourself, you may be able to generate income by selling cross-marketing opportunities to other small businesses. Businesses can swap marketing opportunities with noncompeting partners at no cost.
Companies that sell business-to-business can also use the technique to join noncompeting businesses to co-produce events, share trade show booths, link websites or pool mailing lists.