Engineering Merchants: Reap the benefits of up-selling and cross-selling

Upselling can lead to large increases in sales revenue. Find out about the benefits of upselling and cross-selling for engineering merchants.
May 7, 2019
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5-min read

Successfully up-selling and cross-selling your products and services can not only lead to an increase in sales revenue, but also open new avenues for your business portfolio. A lot of our Engineering Merchant customers began their journey with a portfolio of specific niche products and over time, through customer demand, have expanded their portfolio to span across thousands of product lines from tooling to fasteners, pipes and valves to fixings and workwear.

Mastering the art of cross-selling products can ensure you become your customer's one-stop-shop for all their engineering needs. Take Allfix as an example: Established in 1988, Allfix began as a local fastener and fixing company and has now become a large nationwide supplier of a range of products spanning their original core selection including workwear, sealants, ironmongery and home cleaning products.

Customer demands and expectations have changed in recent years. With the influence of Amazon and the ease of online shopping, customers expect to buy what they need in one place. This gives you, as Engineering Merchants, an opportunity to cross-sell products that your customers will be looking for and in turn expand your product profile.

How to effectively up-sell and cross-sell?

Regardless of the current size of your product portfolio, it's useful to know how to reap the benefits of cross-selling and up-selling to ensure you can sell the products you stock, and your customers remain loyal to your company. But what's the secret to effectively cross-selling and up-selling? Knowledge.

Understanding your products, industry and ultimately your customers is the only way you'll see the benefits of up-selling and cross-selling.

Understand your products

Staff must have accurate knowledge of the stock you sell in order to recommend the right product for the right job. You'll need to know the brands you sell, what parts fit and work with what products, what is a likely product that often sells with another. For example, if a customer bought a cordless drill, have they chosen the correct drill bits to fit the specific tool?

Having this knowledge about your product portfolio will allow your staff can give valuable recommendations to your customers to ensure they make an informed decision on their purchase.

Know your market

Go beyond knowing the specifications of your products and fully understand the market your customers are in. What are the daily tasks and challenges they face and how can you help to ease or solve their problems? What type of jobs will your customer be involved in and what products do you sell that will work well for them?

Know how you fit in your market in comparison to your competitors. What do they offer that you don't, and why? Have you found a niche product or service that gives you an advantage?

Customer profiling is key

You'll reap the ultimate benefits from up-selling and cross-selling if you know and record all you can about your customers and their business. A few key things you should already know:

  • Order history
  • Most frequently bought item
  • Business type (and their specific needs)
  • Do they have special pricing or account terms with your company?
  • Have they stopped buying certain items from you?

Ultimately the cross-sell or up-sell should not only add extra value to the purchase to benefit your company, but it should also add value to the customer to meet their needs and requirements.

Selling techniques

Selling tactics need to be subtle and genuine in order to build an honest relationship with your customers. If you have the knowledge you need about your customers, products and market then you're 75% there. The rest of the work is reading the situation and adapting to your customer in the moment. What is their budget, do they need the product urgently, do they need guidance or assistance? Reading these cues will ensure you recommend the right product and service. It may be that you cross-sell a related item or a promotional item or even up-sell a better quality, higher-priced item.

This type of service makes customers want to return as they'll value your knowledge and will be thankful for your suggestions.

How to make cross-selling and up-selling easier

Your business software should make increasing sales opportunities easier. A quality CRM or a sophisticated sales order processing module will make spotting opportunities easier as they can highlight related items or promotional items, whether you're placing the order at your trade counter or over the phone.

The prof.ITplus sales order screen highlights related items for staff to up-sell as well as noting the latest promotional items on offer. It also gives full visibility of leakage opportunities, which gives you the opportunity to discuss why they're not purchasing goods from you and whether you can offer price discounts to gain back their business. Plus, the haggle feature shows you the lowest price your staff can sell an item at in order to meet the required profit margin, so managers can set limits, but it still allows for flexibility to win sales. Better yet, with the prof.ITplus ROAD app, this can all be done whilst out in the field by your external sales reps.

How to increase up-sell and cross-sell opportunities?

Having items that are regularly bought together, positioned next to each other at your trade counter will increase the chances of adding value to a purchase. Increasing sales opportunities doesn't end in your store, it can also be done online. Promotional banners on your homepage and through the site will gain attention as well as including related items' to product pages or a recently bought together' section on your eCommerce website to increase interest and up the value of a customer's spend.

Build relationships and increase sales

The benefits of successfully up-selling and cross-selling can have a huge impact on your business. It can allow you to expand into new markets and increase your product portfolio, but it can also help with customer retention because they value the knowledge and expertise your business provides, and it allows you to build better relationships with your customers if it's done properly.

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