The Art and Science of the Direct Response Marketing Cross-Sell

Whether you’re applying the Pareto principle to sales outcomes or burying yourself in any of the statistics fueling the customer acquisition vs. retention debate, one thing is clear: it costs more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Even so, direct response marketers tend to be so focused on generating new customers. Our sales teams cry for “more, more, more!” but what about maximizing sales with existing customers? If your efforts are a little “light” in the area of engaging current customers with cross-selling offers, it’s time to balance the growth equation.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at why it’s so important (to your bottom line) to retain customers through direct response marketing. We’ll also share some of the ways you can use well-crafted cross-sell offers to delight customers and help meet your sales goals.

Do You Want Fries With That?
Just to be clear: the cross-sell is different from the up-sell. In an up-sell scenario, your goal is to draw a customer in with one offer (say, a cheeseburger) and use a savvy sales technique to encourage the eventual purchase of a more expensive item (like a double cheeseburger).

The cross-sell, on the other hand, is to add value to the cheeseburger order with a side of fries (and an ice cold beverage, of course!). The key concept with the cross-sell is adding value to enhance the customer’s experience, to satisfy their needs more deeply, and, if done correctly, keep them coming back for more next time.

Connect to Create Additional Value with Customers
Burgers and fries aside, cross-selling opportunities are everywhere. But you can’t leave them to chance. That is, you can’t assume your customers know about the (other) great products and services you offer—or even that they’ll think of your business as the place to get them.

Forbes cites a disheartening finding from a Bain & Company study: up to 80% of satisfied customers do not go back to do more business with the company that satisfied them. Why? They’re not connected. They have no sense of loyalty towards the business, even if they did a great job meeting their needs in the past.

In today’s digital world, making (and maintaining) customer connections—and driving additional sales in the process—is getting easier and easier. There’s no good reason you can’t at least try to build a relationship with every customer and make it a win-win through cross-selling. Consider what’s in it for your customer:

· The flexibility and convenience of having a go-to vendor for the products/services they want or need
· More personalized customer service from a company who “knows” and values them
· Access to a broader range of products and services plus easy-to-access offers to take advantage of purchase specials

Using Data to Deliver Personalized Offers
When developing cross-selling campaigns to engage existing customers, you can draw on everything you already know about them. You likely have access to contact information, purchase history, and even behavioral data (if you’re tracking their activity on your website or social media channels). All of this can be used to help uncover the potential for more value.

Offers can also be related to:

· Past purchases – “Is it time to reorder? Check out what’s new, too.”
· Geographical needs – “Did you know? We have your cold-weather solution!”
· Complementary items – “You bought that, so maybe you’ll like this to make the perfect pairing?”

Consider this example from the insurance industry. An Accenture blog series explores how insurance companies can meet the changing—and well-rounded—needs of their customers through digital technology. Some insurers are transforming their distribution channels by using data to personalize and refine their insurance offerings and leveraging partnerships to cross-sell other products and services. In fact, their research shows that 61% of insurance carriers intend to expand their portfolios with non-insurance products.

Timing is Everything
Each communications touch-point is an opportunity to add value by way of cross-selling…but timing is key. Need more business this second? Point of purchase cross-selling can take the form of a salesperson pitch (in-store) or a customized product recommendation (online).

Cross-selling offers of the direct response variety can be scheduled to reach customers at designated times (or at certain triggers) to extend their purchase activity over time and remind them of all the great products and services you can provide when they’re ready to come back for more. For example:

· After a few weeks of using a product, send a follow-up email offering 15% their next purchase of a different, but compatible, product
· In a B2B scenario using a consultative sales approach offer a customer a special package of additional training hours or a free trial of a complimentary service they may find value in purchasing
· When a new product is launched, share a special offer with members of your customer Facebook group or promote offer via a customer-only newsletter

When Lead Generation isn’t Everything
The answer to sagging sales is not always increasing the number of new leads you’re pulling in. It’s promoting new purchases among existing customers. To learn more about effective direct response techniques, contact us.