addon selling

The following are three actual chapters from Jim Domanski’s book, “Profiting By Phone–No Nonsense Skills and Techniques for Selling and Getting Leads by Telephone.” Jim also has another book, “Add-On Selling–How to Squeeze Every Last Ounce of Sales Potential From Your Calls,” which greatly expands on these ideas and give a step-by-step proven approach to cross-selling, up selling, and overall increasing sales revenue and opportunities every time you speak with a customer.

Add-On Sales Ideas

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By Jim Domanski

Chapter 35-How to Increase Profits By Cross-Selling

 Cross-selling is a superb way to increase the value of a sale by suggesting an accompanying product. When and where applicable, scripts should be developed for cross- selling opportunities. Developing a script for an add-on product is a combination of a word-for-word bridge and a job aid.

There is one major rule to follow before attempting to use your cross-selling script: have the original order in hand. In other words, make sure you have achieved your primary objective first. Close the sale, take down the particulars, process the order and then, and only then, attempt the cross sell.

Once the order has been taken, then bridge to the cross sell item. For example,

“Thank you Ms. Schroeder for the bubble jet printer order. Incidentally, did you know that we have ink jet cartridges on sale this month for 20% off? Not only will it save you some money but it will eliminate the hassle of running out and finding a cartridge when it needs replacing. Would you like me to add a couple of cartridges to the order?”

Note that the cross-sell relates directly to the purchase and that the item is relatively low-cost in comparison to the original order (therefore, a major purchase decision is not necessary). From a scripting point of view, the item is a commodity and therefore needs little or no description. Secondly, by adding the word “incidentally” there is a casualness to the remark and reduces the “hard sell” feeling that sometimes accompanies an add-on sale. The benefits are clearly expressed and not belabored. Finally, there is a direct close.

The function of the job aid from a scripting perspective is to relate the purchased item to the add-on item. It is a quick reference source and reminder.  

The job aid can be as simple as a sheet of paper, or can be added into the order processing software. For example, one company has installed a default to a job aid. Once the order has been entered into the computer and the “enter” button is touched, a pop-down screen appears listing the feature of the month.

Before creating your cross sell script, do some homework. Examine the type of client to whom you will be selling. How knowledgeable are they? Will they see the add-on as a commodity, or something requiring a little more thought? Will they require additional information to make the purchase decision?

Answers to these questions will dictate the type of job aid you will require. In the above example for Norton Utilities, a Features-Advantages-Benefits sheet was developed that quickly explained the product to the customer who was not as familiar with the product and its use.

Be brief, to the point, and casual. Typically, no more than a line or two should be scripted. Try it for your next sale!


Chapter 36-Use the Primer Technique for Cross- and Up-Selling

Let’s talk about those situations when you’re in an order-taking mode. You know, the phone rings, the friendly voice says, “Yes, I’d like to place an order.” Regardless of whether these are the calls you handle all day long, or if they’re a welcome respite from the grind of outbound calling, you can make these orders more valuable. And you can learn important selling skills in the process. I’m talking about cross-selling or up-selling. Specifically you can make the whole process easier on yourself by using the “primer” technique.

First of all, a cross-sell or an up-sell is easy because a sale has already been made. The customer is in a buying mood. What this really means is that he or she is open and positively inclined towards an additional purchase. A customer who has just bought can buy more. There are some who will argue that this is manipulative selling which takes advantage of a customer. I disagree. You are not being manipulative. In fact, you are being a better salesperson by reminding a customer of additional benefits that could be derived from the additional purchase. It’s like when I go to McDonalds and the server says “Would you like fries with that today?” Something clicks inside and says “Yeah, sure. Sounds good.”

Customers are intelligent people who make decisions every day. If they do not need or want the item that you have offered, they will tell you. There were times when I did not want fries with my Big Mac and I told the attendant that. Guess what? She neither leapt over the counter and knocked me down, nor was she the least bit offended. She offered it politely and I declined politely. So the message here is get rid of any hang-ups you might have about the customer perceiving you as some aggressive bully. You’re not.

“The Primer” is a technique that makes the process easier. The primer means that you have preconditioned or “primed” the customer for a cross- or up-sell. It goes like this,

Customer: “I would like to order the burgundy crewneck sweater, please.”

Sales Rep: “Oh, that’s a good choice.”

Or, “I just love that one.”

Or, “It’s one of our most popular sweaters.”

Or, “I think you will like that one.”

Or, “I have one myself.”

Of course, all these statements would have to be true if you were to use them. The point is that you are giving your approval of the customer’s purchase decision. I know that must sound a little weird at first, but when most people buy an item, there is a moment of uncertainty. They wonder if they made the right choice, if they paid too much, or if they really needed it. Most of us consciously or unconsciously seek approval from others. By “approving” their purchase you actually make them feel “correct.” In essence, they did the right thing.

The next step is easy:

Sales Rep: “You know, we have some great silk scarves that would go perfectly with that burgundy. Would you be interested?”

What’s the very worst someone could say to you after you have just paid them a compliment about their original purchase decision? The worst one could say to you is “No, thank you.”

But, more likely, you will have tremendous sales results.

Priming goes beyond pre-conditioning a customer to an additional purchase suggestion. It injects life, personality and charm into the conversation. Most of us are used to giving our orders to some bland, lackluster individual on the other end of the line. When we find someone who has an obvious interest in the product, we feel even more inclined to buy more. Enthusiasm is a catchy thing and adds a whole new element to the selling process.

To reemphasize, the comments on a particular product or service must be absolutely sincere. The majority of customers will know if you are scamming them. Cross-selling and up-selling is simply rich in potential.


Chapter 37-10 Tips for Profitable Cross- and Up-Selling


Here are 10 tips to help you cross-sell and up-sell.

1. Sell First and Tell Later
Never, ever attempt to up-sell or cross-sell until you have all the information necessary to fulfill the first order. In our rush or excitement to up-sell we sometimes forget that the customer has an order to place. Selling additional items too early in the call might turn the customer off. You could lose the original sale.

2. The Rule of 25
The value of an add-on sale should not increase the overall order by more than 25%. For example, if the original order is $100.00, you should be cautious in your attempts to exceed that order by $25.00. Despite the fact that people are motivated to buy, they still have a mental limit as to the amount they will dispense. For whatever reason, that figure rarely exceeds 25%. Generally, going above that value is only marginally successful.

3. Make a Profit
This is more of a management, rather than a salesperson decision, but the whole point of the exercise is to make money. The item(s) you choose must make enough profit to at least cover the cost of the additional time you spend on the phone. One source I’ve read claims that you must show at least a $4.00 profit on each add-on sale.

4. Don’t Dump Junk
There is, on occasion, the urge to use cross-selling and up-selling to move unwanted inventory. This in itself is okay provided the customer isn’t saddled with useless or defective products. If you are clearing stock that won’t be replaced, let the customer know. If it is a discontinued line, don’t hesitate in letting the customer know. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry later.

5. Limit and Relate
Limit your choice of add-on items to those that clearly relate to the original purchase. If a customer were buying a blazer he has seen in a catalogue, suggesting a shirt and a tie makes sense. Suggesting a goose-necked garden hoe, however, does not.

6. Familiarity Breeds Success
The more familiar your customer is with the add-on item, the more likely he or she is to buy. Cross-selling and up-selling is not the time to introduce a brand new product, unless the price is unusually low (Refer to #3.) New products take time to sell using features and benefits. This will take additional time. The purpose of the up-sell is to increase the order while the buying motive is strong. Introducing something unfamiliar will only confuse the customer.

7. Plan, Plan, Plan, and Plan Again
Again, likely a management issue, but your life will be much easier if the program is well planned and implemented. For instance, not only must you decide which products to sell, you must determine what product(s) they relate to. So, if you are going to up-sell with ties, you’ve got to decide, in advance, which blazers they will match.

8. Train to Avoid Pain
Ensure that you are trained on the products or services offered. Make sure you understand them. Rehearse the skills necessary to get the customer to say “yes.” One catalogue firm spends 40 hours on training designed to demonstrate how a particular add-on applies to and benefits the customer.

9. Test with the Best and Roll With the Rest
Okay, another management issue that you might want to make your manager aware of. Test your cross-selling and up-selling with your best people. They have the drive and initiative to work out any of the kinks. Introduce the cross-selling and up-selling program to the rest of the sales reps only after you are sure of the test results.

10. E=MC2
Your cross selling efforts (E) will be directly dependent on how motivated (M) you are. Cross-selling and up-selling takes additional time and effort. If there is no reward . . . if you are not motivated . . . chances are the program will not be a rip roaring success. Compensation (C) is always a critical factor in selling and perhaps more so when you are asking for that little extra with each sale. The other “C” stands for Control. Whether you are a sales rep or a manager, the ability to control the direction of the cross-selling and up-selling activities will determine success. In other words, measure your productivity, your performance and your profitability. If there is something lacking in any one of these areas, make changes.

(These are three chapters from Jim Domanski’s book, Profiting By Phone. Click Here to see more info on the book and to order your own copy.)