You have a loyal base of customers who are happy with your products and services, and many of them probably order the same items from you on a regular basis. While consistency is good and loyalty is great, have you ever considered trying to sell these customers alternative or complementary products outside of their normal purchasing behavior? It’s called up-selling and cross-selling, and it’s a strategy that will not only benefit them but will also help you and your bottom line.
In the never-ending quest to increase sales, a B2B company shouldn’t be focusing its energy on finding new customers. Frankly, it’s more difficult and costly to acquire new customers. Instead, your efforts should be concentrated on your existing customers – the ones with whom you’ve earned their trust and loyalty. According to thinkJar research, 65% of companies are able to successfully up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers, while only 12% of companies are able to sell to new customers. That’s why selling more to your current customer base is a better way to maximize your profits and increase your customer lifetime value (CLV).
The importance of knowing your customers
Before you use the up-sell/cross-sell strategy on your customers, you must better understand them so you can help them see needs they didn’t know they had, or find solutions to problems that perhaps they didn’t think you could solve. Start by reviewing your analytics and reporting to evaluate your customers’ search and purchasing history. You’ll be able to see what products they’ve been researching or considering, and get a better sense of their buying patterns. After you’ve gathered the research, engage with your customers via a phone call, sales visit or survey, asking questions that will help you identify their goals, priorities or concerns. This personalized outreach will provide valuable information to assist with your selling strategy, and will show them you’re genuinely interested in improving their customer experience with you.
Once you’re armed with this wealth of customer information, you’re ready to develop an up-selling or cross-selling strategy tailored to your different customers’ needs.
The art of up-selling
Up-selling usually consists of a recommendation of a product or service that’s more expensive than the one a customer is considering. It requires a careful balance of offering higher-end products that still suit the customers’ needs. If you push products without a reason or purpose, you can leave the customer feeling deceived and distrustful. Show the benefits of a different product over their current product by offering product comparisons online. With the help of rich product descriptions and specifications, customers will be able to make an educated decision that justifies trying your suggested product.
Another opportunity to up-sell is when you’re trying to get a customer to purchase products in larger quantities. Present the benefits of your offer by highlighting the savings they’ll receive when they purchase in bulk, or include an incentive of discounted or free shipping to help sweeten the deal.
The convenience of cross-selling
When you cross-sell to customers, you’re presenting additional products or components – related or unrelated to their current product purchases – that you feel would be well-suited for them. Cross-selling, when done properly, shows your customers that you’ve taken the time to know them, their business and their needs by suggesting products that they otherwise may not think about or realize you sell. For example, your customer is always buying electrical cable and terminals from your site, but none of the safety gear their employees need when using your products. Why not suggest appropriate safety products such as protective eyewear, gloves or hardhats to go along with their order.
Another way to effectively cross-sell your products is by showing additional purchases that were made by other customers who bought a similar product. It gives your customers a chance to see what others in their industry are buying and may even spark additional product purchases.
Up-selling and cross-selling is a profitable but under-utilized marketing strategy for B2B companies. However, with a robust eCommerce platform, proper analytical tools and employees dedicated to the effort, you can provide a better shopping experience for your customers, and more profitable sales for your business.