By Chris Hancock, Managing Director, GasboxDMG www.gasbox.com
Brands must engage in cross and up-selling in order to grow and survive. Beyond the obvious route of customer acquisition, developing the ability to increase the value each individual customer brings to the brand can have an obvious impact on its bottom line.
But the reputation of cross and up-selling telemarketing techniques haven’t always been positive and even a hint of the ‘hard sell’ is enough to put most consumers off.
However, there are methods which can help to elevate cross and up-selling from being an unwanted intrusion to a welcome approach, which capitalise on what we know makes a successful sales interaction.
Experience clearly shows that the effectiveness of cross and up-selling activity is dependent upon four key factors. The first and perhaps most obvious is the level of customer satisfaction present; put simply, a happy customer is one that is likely to make further purchases in the future.
The relevance of the product or service being offered is also important. You don’t need to be a direct marketing expert to know that propensity to purchase is hugely reliant on the product being something the consumer may actually want or need, so an understanding of the customer through analytical means can help to build a clear picture of the most appropriate content.
The legitimacy of the approach, in the mind of the consumer, must also be carefully considered. Crucially, if the act of cross or up-selling can be linked to an event such as a previous purchase, anniversary of purchase, date of renewal (for insurance for example), home move, marriage anniversary or retirement date, it is far more likely to be viewed as a genuine advance instead of an illegitimate and unwelcome one.
And finally is the nature of the approach and the ability by the brand, again in the consumer’s mind, to establish their needs, position the product or service to meet these needs, and ultimately close the sale.
By building on this experience brands can begin to innovate in the way they cross and up-sell, specifically by capitalising on customer satisfaction as a catalyst to making a sale. It is here that the concept of ‘sales through satisfaction’ is very much at the core.
As we’ve already said, a customer’s satisfaction levels will peak after they’ve made a purchase or equally when they have enjoyed a positive experience with the brand.
This positive experience may be something simple, like the brand changing their address details after being informed of the customer’s impending house move, or successfully adding a new name to a vehicle insurance policy. Using this ‘event’ as a means of pinpointing when an instance of heightened satisfaction occurs, the brand can instigate the process of sales through satisfaction.
Following an event, the brand can interact with the customer with the dual aims of gauging their level of their satisfaction, whilst exploring other opportunities for the deepening the relationship. This can then be the starting point for a conversation, which may eventually lead to the opportunity to cross or up-sell, or which equally may instigate other improvements and refinements in the relationship between brand and customer.
The success of this approach, and specifically in cross and up-sell activity, can be heightened if the brand uses the process of understanding why the customer is satisfied, and applies this insight to the subsequent sales process. By capitalising on the customer’s goodwill towards the brand, using communication made timely and relevant based on the insight acquired by soliciting the customer’s response to the service they have received, can deliver a dramatic improvement on sales activity.
We have used this approach with a financial services brand, as part of its ongoing current account on-boarding programme, aimed at customers who have switched their account. Feedback on their experience of the brand during this initial account activation period was solicited; using a combination of methods over 90% of customers provided a response.
The resulting insight that was generated was then used to inform follow up activity; in this instance leads represent appointments made in the brand branch network, where they are converted into further account openings and other product sales.
This approach can deliver a brand significant customer insight for both short and long term use, but also acts to reinforce the brand and its values in the eyes of the customer. Customer advocacy can also be stimulated and therefore long term loyalty improved, and for instances of less than excellent service, the brand can be seen to be actively engaging issues directly with its customers.
Being better able to cross and up-sell by basing such approaches on insight gleaned directly from the customer, and motivating their purchase because of identifiable instances of satisfaction with the brand can be a hugely powerful tool. But it should be considered and employed carefully; sales through satisfaction offers huge potential, not just in generating immediate sales, but in invigorating relationships with customers and cementing their loyalty and value for years to come.
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