If you’ve ever eaten at a fast-food restaurant, surely you’ve been asked, “Would you like fries with that?” or “Would you like to supersize your meal?” Cross-selling involves presenting customers with complementary products or services to consider above and beyond their initial purchase. Here are a few tips on how to successfully cross-sell (or up-sell) your products to increase revenue:
- Use cross-selling as a way to help customers try to solve a problem, rather than just to sell more stuff. Educate them on products or services you have to offer that may meet their needs or new items that weren’t available before.
- Suggest relevant items that complement and make the initial purchase more valuable (such as selling a memory card, camera case, and batteries with a new camera). Also consider offering items that vary in price, such as an $8 case, a $15 case, and a $25 case. The least-expensive items will most commonly be added as impulse buys.
- Position products in lucrative places on your website to cross-sell complementary items, or direct customers to other items they may be interested in. For example, Amazon.com offers suggestions of items that are frequently bought together, as well as “Customers who bought this item also bought XYZ.”
- Promote bundled packages that provide a price break to purchase extra items together. For example, “Save $15 when you purchase our XYZ camera, case, and memory card value bundle.”
- Reinforce cross-selling efforts with customer testimonials or expert recommendations. Popularity sells, and people are more likely to follow suit when they see what others are doing.
- Timing is key when up-selling products. Don’t try to promote an extended warranty until after the decision has been made to purchase an item.
Done properly, cross-selling is an effective way to boost revenues, while at the same time helping customers get more value from their purchases.
Experts say it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Consequently, customer retention is critical to the success of your business. Here are a few tips to help you stay in front of your customers and increase your customer retention rates:
- Develop a customer loyalty program that offers special promotions and incentives for return customers, such as birthday discounts, a reward punch card, free shipping, monthly discounts, free upgrades, and the like.
- Offer surveys that ask customers what they think of your business and how you can improve.
- Encourage open communication with your customers. Request feedback and suggestions. Offer options such as email forms, surveys, a toll-free number, chat forums, and social media links.
- Consider creating a focus group with a couple loyal customers to provide their insight from a customer’s perspective. Be sure to reward them for their input.
- Utilize customer complaints and suggestions to improve your products or services.
- Create a referral program that encourages and rewards loyal customers to do the selling for you.
- Differentiate yourself from the competition. Offer value add-ons, educate your customers about industry trends, provide helpful tips, and have a live person answer your phones instead of a confusing automated system.
- Socialize with your customers. Attend trade shows, offer open houses, encourage customers to respond to blog posts, and communicate with your customers on social media sites.
- Mail personalized thank you cards showing your appreciation for recent purchases or for interest in your products and services.
If you have other ideas for keeping customers satisfied, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
Baseball legend Babe Ruth once said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
Ruth may have been talking about baseball, but the same is true in business. While we often celebrate visionary leaders and pioneering individuals who set themselves apart from the crowd, most successful companies are built and sustained on the effectiveness of their teams.
So what sets great teams apart, and what traits should you aspire to as part of a team? Here are five keys to get you started.
Define your role. Every show needs a supporting cast, and every team needs role players who bring their own unique skills and experiences to the table. Figure out what role you play (or should play) on the team. If you are the team leader, then lead. Otherwise, carve out a niche for yourself that allows you to bring your best qualities forward for the betterment of the group.
But be flexible. Remain open to the needs of your team and willing to adapt to fill a role outside your comfort zone. Doing this will not only help the team meet its goals but will also help you personally grow and expand your own skills and abilities. In the process, you might have fun discovering new areas of interest you enjoy tackling on the job.
Assists are important, too. In basketball and hockey, players are given assists for helping set up a scoring shot. In baseball, relief pitchers must often get their team out of a tough situation, and closers are called upon to “save” another pitcher’s win. Look for ways you can contribute to victories at work, without the need for personal glory or praise. Use your strengths to complement those around you, be quick with a helping hand, and remember that when the team wins, you do, too.
Communicate effectively. Open communication is vital to any team’s success. Strive to be clear, concise, honest, and direct with your team, always mindful and respectful of the other members, too. Work on creating an atmosphere where people feel encouraged to share their ideas and to discuss them freely, with the goal of bringing the best ideas forward, regardless of egos.
Play nice. In discussing solutions, listen intently to contrary views. Tackle each project with a spirit of cooperation. Keep discussions civil, and look for ways to compromise when possible without sacrificing the team’s goals or integrity. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and offer support for others who may be struggling. Above all, remember that you’re all part of the same team and are working toward the same common goal.
Some truths are timeless. Here are six from the Roman statesman Cicero. He called these “The Six Mistakes of Man,” and though written more than 2000 years ago, each is still applicable today.
1. The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others
While this may be true of Hollywood villains and reality show contestants, most of us realize that true success comes from working together toward a common goal. Profits are certainly a vital component of success in business, but making them at the expense of those around you is not. Partnerships, collaboration, and teamwork are far more effective ways to build the kind of long-term, sustainable success most of us are after.
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected
Far too much energy is spent on idle worrying. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t concern ourselves with improvement. By all means we should. But worrying never accomplished anything. Try not to get overly concerned with things that are beyond your control. Do your best, accomplish what you can, and keep plugging away.
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it
Many of the things we take for granted today were once deemed impossible. Sure, a task may not seem possible right now, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t accomplish it someday or that you couldn’t team up with somebody (or several somebodies) to accomplish it in the not-too-distant future.
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preference
It’s easy to fall into the thinking of “my way or the highway.” There’s a reason we do things the way we do: because our way works. In many cases, a lot of time, effort, trial, and error have gone into refining our methodology. But sometimes, we just do things a certain way because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Opening our minds to other possibilities helps us grow personally — and as an organization or team.
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind and not acquiring the habit of reading and study
Most business leaders are also lifelong learners — always reading, refining their skills, and studying others to stay ahead and continually improve their companies. Many also embrace a culture of learning throughout their organizations — cultivating knowledge, encouraging growth, and rewarding employees for ideas that translate to the company’s bottom line.
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do
In some ways, this relates to #4 above, but on a grander scale. Instead of issues related to company policy and procedure, this mistake goes into personal beliefs and attitudes. Sure, life would be easier if everyone believed the same things and lived their lives the same way, but it would also be a lot duller. Different opinions, beliefs, and life experiences can infuse a team with energy and lead to fresher ideas and bigger innovations.
So, what do you think of Cicero’s mistakes? Can you think of any that he might have missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
In order to satisfy today’s information-hungry audience, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetie) doesn’t always apply. Prospects and customers are looking for detailed information to help them make informed decisions. Here are a few tips to help you educate your audience about the products and services you sell:
- Make your marketing materials more educational. Include a product history, list benefits from a customer perspective, explain how it works, and provide comparisons of why your product is better than the competition.
- Provide customized information packets neatly organized in a pocket folder full of detailed information for customers interested in a specific product or service.
- Show confidence in your products by providing free samples, free product evaluations, or a discounted, no-obligation trial for customers to try your products or services firsthand and learn more about them before making a decision to buy.
- Take advantages of opportunities to be viewed as an expert in your field. Write guest columns in industry publications, speak at a trade show or on a radio feature, and post your own blog.
- Provide a Q&A section on your website that offers convenient answers to potential questions.
- Offer educational product videos that show product highlights, key features, and tips.
- Create customer forums that allow customers to discuss your products openly and educate each other.
- Provide free hands-on training or presentations at your business, during trade shows, or on-site for customers to see and learn the benefits of your products firsthand.
- Offer webinars, e-learning, or how-to seminars that offer educational tips and interesting information not only about your products, but your industry as a whole.
- Publish a regular newsletter as a marketing tool to build relationships and offer information about your business, team, products, and industry.
- Invite customers “behind the scenes.” Give them a tour of your building, and introduce them to your team. Show them a “day in the life” of your company. Let them view how products are made and learn more about your quality-control standards and guides.
Remember that educating your customers shouldn’t stop at the sale. By staying front-of mind and continuing to offer helpful information and tips, your customers will look to you first when they are ready to purchase again in the future.
Nineteenth-century humorist Josh Billings famously said, “Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on the stuff he’s made of.” Here are five tips to help you make sure life’s polishing you into a beautiful gem:
Slow down. Yes, we’re all busy, and we all have deadlines we need to meet. But trying to go 100 miles per hour in 20 different directions simultaneously will only get you nowhere that much faster. Take some time each day to step away from the grind, unwind, and slow down. Go for a walk. Spend time by yourself. Buy a coworker lunch or a cup of coffee. Or just relax, recharge, and reconnect with the world around you. You’ll return more focused and better able to handle the day.
Show appreciation. As human beings, we all appreciate feeling, well, appreciated. Make sure you thank those around you for the things they do to help and encourage you. Let your coworkers know how much their time, talents, encouragement, and support mean to you every day.
Offer positive reinforcement. This may sound like showing appreciation, but it’s a little different. With appreciation, you’re thanking someone for something they’ve done for you. With positive reinforcement, there’s no expectation that the other person has done or will do anything for you. You’re showing them encouragement with no strings attached. For example, when you see a coworker making strides in an area of concern or taking on new challenges, give them a pat on the back and hearty congratulations. Similarly, if you see someone struggling, offer support and guidance if you can.
Counter negativity with positive words and praise. Negativity is a highly contagious workplace disease. Don’t let it spread to you. Avoid overly negative office chat. Focus instead on building people up by being a positive voice for and influence on those around you.
Find creative ways to use your strengths. We all have things we need to do at work, and it’s important to accomplish those tasks. But, whenever possible, try to carve out some time to work on projects that showcase your talents and put your strengths to maximum use. If such projects are hard to find, create your own, and present them to your manager or boss. Make sure to include valid reasons you think your projects will benefit the company. If your ideas get shot down, don’t give up. Come up with a better plan, and keep trying. Your initiative, determination, and positive attitude will not go unnoticed.
You’ve probably heard the question asked, “Why are manhole covers round?” Answers vary from the obvious (“because manholes are round”) to the more obscure. Wikipedia offers several possibilities. My personal favorites?
- A round manhole cover cannot be accidentally dropped into the round hole it covers.
- The circular shape makes the heavy covers easier to roll.
- Round castings are easier to machine lathe than those of another shape and less expensive to produce in a size wide enough for a person to fit through.
- The round shape makes it easy to replace an open cover without having to line up the corners.
- A round tube holds up better against the earth’s compression surrounding it than a shape with corners would.
If I were to guess, I’d say it’s probably a combination of all these things (and maybe more) that made round manholes and manhole covers so popular.
Which brings me around to marketing.
Like a manhole cover, the best shape for your company’s marketing is also round. More to the point, the best approach to your marketing is a well-rounded one. Just as the reasons for using a round manhole cover are many and varied, so too are the reasons for choosing each specific element in your marketing plan. The big difference? In marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all.
As you consider new marketing opportunities for your company — and reexamine existing channels you’re not sure are still working as effectively as before — ask yourself, “How well does this approach fit with my overall marketing plan?” If the answer is “not very well” or the reasons you come up with for trying it aren’t very sound, you know where that idea should go: straight into the file shaped like a manhole cover.