Finding new clients and increasing revenue as an agency will always be a challenge. With over 13,000 agencies in the U.S. alone, and that number continuing to grow, you must capitalize on each relationship and new sale possible. One of the best ways to do this is through cross selling.
When done right, cross selling can add value to your existing relationships, establish credibility, and increase revenue.
What is cross selling and why should you care?
Cross selling is the process of selling a different product or service to a customer to increase the value of a sale. It is often confused with upselling, which is anything that increases the price and functionality of the original purchase.
For example, consider a fast-food employee asking if you want fries with your burger. This is a cross-sell. The fries are a complimentary “product” to the burger. An upsell might be an upgrade, another expensive item, or an add-on to an original purchase.
Continuing with the fast food example, an upsell might include asking the customer if they want to “super-size” their meal:
The fast-food restaurant is trying to sell you a more expensive version of your original purchase.
Agency cross selling examples
In an agency environment, if a client hired you to design ad graphics, you might cross-sell them on landing page design services. If a client hired your agency to build a website, you might offer copywriting for each page’s content. Both examples demonstrate how an agency attempts to sell a higher-priced product.
3 effective cross selling tips
No matter what services you offer, the secret to success starts with your approach.
Cross-selling takes a bit of skill and flair to pull off correctly. Your approach has to be subtle, otherwise, the customer is likely to be put off. Here are a few tips to increase the effectiveness of your cross-selling strategy:
1. Take advantage of drip emails
Instead of trying to make an additional sale right at the start of a new relationship, it may be best to wait a few days or weeks before selling a client on any other service. Instead of reaching out manually via email, create a drip campaign to follow up automatically.
For instance, take a client who purchases one of your agency’s web design packages. You could add them to a drip campaign that introduces them to the importance of copywriting in one email, results that some of your clients get from your copywriting services in another, and then in the third email, send them an offer.
This approach subtly works in the cross-sell as part of your drip email process, rather than immediately trying to sell a client on an additional service. By sending a series of emails first, you can explain the benefits without coming off too aggressive. With a drip campaign, you can automate this entire process to save time and identify the most effective emails (by looking at open, click, and reply rates).
2. Wait until you can provide a “win”
Another tactic is to work on a client’s project for some time. Once you can show measurable results, clients will be more willing to invest in your additional services.
You’ll also be able to establish a better relationship during this time and can craft a more personalized plan tailored to them. That’s because you’ll have an inside look into what marketing methods the client was utilizing before contracting your agency, what is successful, and what doesn’t work.
3. Match services with client goals
Just because you offer web design services, for example, doesn’t mean your client needs a brand new website. So, you need to consider a client’s goals and how your additional services relate to them.
If their goal is increased traffic, you could offer PPC advertising, SEO, or content marketing. Web design may still play a role in these services (e.g. designing landing pages, publishing blog posts, etc.) but you should factor them into your entire offering and demonstrate how each service will help meet the client’s goals.
This way, you’re providing value and not trying to sell the client on something they don’t need to turn a profit.
5 common cross-selling methods
With many ways to cross-sell, here are a few of the most common approaches digital marketing agencies can use:
1. Offer additional services
One way to cross-sell clients is by offering additional services. For instance, if you sell software, you may consider selling a complementary service or vice-versa. As an example, if your agency sells SEO software, you could provide link-building services.
Screaming Frog is an SEO agency and web crawling software company that does just that. Alongside their web crawler tool (SEO Spider), they also provide SEM, SEO, and Social Media Marketing services:
2. Provide complementary items (bundle sales)
Bundling sales is another common way to complete a cross-sell. Amazon uses this method often in their “Frequently bought together” section:
In an agency, you might bundle SEO and SEM services to meet both short-term and long-term ranking goals. Another example could include bundling the content and design of an ebook.
3. Make data-driven suggestions
You can sell additional products or services by looking at a client’s previous interactions with your website and purchases they have made.
If you find that a client has been navigating your website, reading blog articles on digital advertising techniques, and downloading advertising-related ebooks, you can reach out directly and make the case for your PPC services.
Many CRMs, like HubSpot and Agile CRM, can assign website activity to any contacts that you have:
4. Pitch promotions
If you currently have a promotion for one of your services, this is an ideal time to cross-sell a client. This approach comes across as an attempt to highlight a sale rather than specifically targeting a client, so there is less inherent risk attached.
As an example, if you have a Black Friday discount on your social media marketing services, you could contact your content marketing clients to inform them of the sale. They might be interested in the service as a way to further promote their content.
5. Educate your clients
Lastly, some clients may not fully understand the value of your suite of services. They might realize that SEO is essential, but the advantages of specific SEO services (link building, content marketing, and mobile-friendly web design) may require more education.
By educating clients, you can illustrate the benefits of each service and how they might apply to your client. Sending them ebooks, related blog posts, or entering them into an email course are some proven ways to show your expertise and educate clients.
Once they see how each service can benefit their business, they will be more likely to agree to additional work.
When is the best time to cross-sell?
Knowing when to cross-sell is just as important, if not more so, than the initial sale itself. If you try to sell to a client at the wrong time, it can damage your relationship moving forward or negate the original sale entirely.
No single approach or rule dictates the best time to cross-sell.
However, by remembering the central goal of cross-selling — to persuade a customer to purchase a service that complements their original purchase — you can time the sale just right. Simply put, the best time to cross-sell is when the sale makes sense.
If you were a video game store, a great opportunity to cross-sell video games would be when somebody purchases a new console.
As an agency, if you have a client who has just launched their social media accounts, you may offer social media management to help attract new followers. If a client just launched Google and Facebook Ads, you might offer post-click landing page design services to generate more traffic and leads.
Ultimately, there is no exact time to cross-sell, but there are plenty of wrong times, and it’s up to you to determine when to make the call. Some sales may go well immediately after a client signs with you, whereas others are best saved for later in the relationship.
Cross-selling is valuable for both you and the client
Recurring revenue is extremely vital for agency growth. Without money coming in month-over-month, it can be difficult to predict cash flow and make the necessary investments to grow your business. Yet, finding new customers is a difficult and expensive process.
That’s why it’s so important to capitalize on the sales you do make and continue selling to current customers. One of the best ways to do this is through cross-selling. By taking a subtle approach, creating a positive experience, and timing the sale, you can squeeze the most out of your cross-selling strategy.
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