5 Cross Selling Techniques

Everywhere you look, cross selling is alive and kicking but it’s usually online and automated. Tesco’s sporting its specials when you do your online shop, Amazon suggesting you might also like this, the sports site bundling the pump with your shiny new soccer ball.

But when you go face to face with salespeople, we seem to have an aversion to cross sell. Perhaps we’re worried about being too pushy or salesey, after all, websites don’t have feelings but people do and having a customer reject you might put you off offering your additional product to the next customer.

Here are 5 strategies that’ll help you cross sell more without the worry of rejection or annoying your customer.

Problem questions

We all know that the secret to consultative selling is finding out the customer’s challenges, problems, pains that motivate them to want to buy our product or service so as to relieve themselves of the pain they’re suffering. Of course, there’s more to selling than just plugging pains, but it certainly creates motivation to act.

The secret here is to craft some questions to ask your customer that reveal the pains and challenges they face and maybe hadn’t realised, so you can present your product to solve them. That’s cross selling. Here’s how.

Take an inventory of what you sell and note down the problems that they solve. Every product or service solves an issue, a problem – you just have to find it. For example credit cards, everyone’s current enemy number one, solve the problem of short term need for cash. So if you’re arranging a loan for a customer, rather than harping on about the great introductory interest rate, ask a question on how your customer copes with short term cash flow crises. That way a credit card might be appealing.

Alternatively you could use this technique. Suggest the problem and ask how they’re coping with the problem.  For example:

“Many of our customers struggle to keep the hardwood floors clean; may I ask how you’re planning to do this?”

“Lots of our customers get into short term cash flow challenges; may I ask how you deal with those?”

Once they have talked about maybe suffering from the problem, you introduce your product and hey presto.

Chunk up the problem

Customers come to you for a product or service and our test is to be able to cross sell. An answer is to chunk up the problem in your customer’s mind to something bigger or the big picture challenge. Ask them what the problem is part of. For example:

“I see you’re looking to secure some hard wood flooring for the space, can I ask what bigger project is this part of?”

“A loan is important to you to finance the car, if you don’t mind me asking, how does this fit in with your overall plan to finance major purchases?”

“You’re looking for a great deal on your mortgage, but what’s the bigger aim for your family of getting a mortgage?”

Once you have the bigger problem in the air, you can then consider packaging a suite of products to suit the needs. Presenting a package of services and products can help you cross sell by eliminating the “add on” perception that some people have. Rather than adding the shoe polish at the checkout, which is too late, consider a package of products which includes polish, cleaning clothes, warranties and shoes, all at a bulk discount of course.

Something new and shiny

One of my favourite programmes on TV is the Gadget Show on Channel 4. An hour of the newest, shiniest, must have gadgets.

And that’s the point about cross selling. Sometimes, as customers, we don’t know what the newest, shiniest, must have product is. So salespeople or customer service people mustn’t be afraid of just telling them what the latest product is.

Naturally it must be relevant to the customer first and you need to put it across as a brand new offering, something new, and you’ll probably get your customer excited.

Here are some more ideas:

Use a customer story to present the “something new” product. Show how a previous customer was initially sceptical and then realised the fabulous benefits once they started to use it. Stories must be real, involve characters, have a challenge to bridge and enjoy a solution at the end.

Use the “are you sure” approach when they initially baulk at the something new product. A quick “are you sure” with the right tone, smile and eye contact can often persuade them away from their knee jerk reaction to being presented something else.


Use the “Amazon – others found this product to be useful too” approach or bundling of products together.  Amazon are world renowned for this cross selling strategy and it works as people are influenced about what others say or do. Mention that many of my customers also found this product of benefit as well.  This bundling of products approach can work really well if you’ve done your homework on what you sell.

Can you link them together in some way, do they complement each other, and have similar benefits?

The right beliefs

It’s all in the head. Cross selling for some is an anathema, an abomination, a loathing. But to others it’s the natural order of things, something to cherish as you’re helping the customer solve their problems and satisfy their needs.

To some it’s natural to others it’s a dreadful experience.

And how you feel will determine how successful you are.

So rid your mind of negative beliefs when it comes to cross selling. Adopt a higher purpose in your selling or customer service role. Convince yourself that what you are doing is moral, designed to help the customer and a valuable service.

Here are the 4 empowering beliefs of successful cross sellers. They believe:

  1. Serving the customer is good
  2. Customers actually want our products and services – all of them
  3. Customers want my expertise and cross selling helps me to demonstrate this
  4. Customers can say no if they want, I’m ok with that.

Adopt them. Use the 21 day rule if you like, write them on cards and read them out to yourself everyday for 21 days and you’ll begin to believe in them.

Or just realise that if you don’t, then you will never succeed at cross selling continuously.

After all websites don’t have feelings, and they’re super successful at cross selling – just ask Amazon who’d cross selling engine generates 40% of their total sales revenue – that’s computer code not a human.