Cross selling is all about supplementing a customer’s original purchase with complementary products. If, like many, you’ve scrolled down a retailer’s site to see what ‘other customers also bought’ or arranged car hire through the airline you’ve just booked a flight with, then the practice becomes obvious.

For business product resellers, the benefits of maximising the basket and extending the sale are particularly crucial. With pressures in some categories and growth opportunities in others, the cross sell enables us all to protect declining areas and build a bigger footing in expanding ones.

By cross selling you are positioning your business as more of a one stop shop, which is all important for protecting the relationship, making the customer less likely to go elsewhere and delivering the efficiency advantages of ‘one account, one invoice’ to your customer base.

Here are five steps to help your team excel at cross selling:

1. Data

Look at your sales data and Google analytics for your website to see which products your customers are most frequently buying together and which product pages on your website are visited in succession.

Beyond any available data, use your own know-how to bundle together products and services that link, or could do. Think laterally across categories, for example meeting room furniture to presentation materials or tech equipment to cleaning products.

2. Plan

Think about the best order for linked products. Best practice is to start with the original, bigger purchase and move on to smaller linked purchases. Linked products should be cheaper than the main purchase and a relatively easy ‘impulse’ decision for the customer to make. They should be easy to explain, familiar products that in some way ’round off’ the purchasing experience. A bit like batteries, sweets or magazines at the supermarket checkout.

3. Listen

 If you’re face to face or on the phone to the customer then listen carefully throughout the conversation and pick up on any pain points. Ask relevant questions, for example if they’re buying business luggage, ask if staff are working on the move, on trains or in other public places, with a mind to offering privacy filters or encrypted USB sticks.

4. Bundle

At the end of the sale one option is to create a win-win for both parties by offering a bundle of linked products at a price that gives the customer the sense of a bargain while delivering good margin for your business at the same time.

5. Trust

Cross selling is infinitely easier to achieve when you have a strong relationship with customers. Work out their needs, give advice on relevant issues and offer solutions. By becoming a trusted partner rather than just a product provider you are far more likely to be heard when you have suggestions to make. Make a point of learning something new about the customer every time you speak to him or her and use that understanding to improve your offering.

Once you know what makes each customer tick you can start to offer relevant insights on areas from workplace security and desk ergonomics to changing coffee tastes and mobile work practices.

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