Before I tell you a little more about this sales strategy please be aware that it has nothing to do with website links. In the past when I have talked about ‘link selling’ some people have thought I meant selling website links, this is not the case!
Link selling can also be known as cross selling and here’s my description of the technique and how it could help your business to increase sales.
This sales technique is something that was introduced to me several years ago when I was training to be Cabin Crew for an airline. You may think that’s an unusual place to learn about sales but we actually got bonuses if we reached certain targets each flight and it was a major part of the job!
In essence it’s ‘linking’ together items that match or could be used or worn together. For example if you go into a clothes shop and try on a skirt and the sales assistant recommends a top to match that skirt, or the lady behind the beauty counter suggests an eye shadow to match the lipstick you were going to buy that is link selling.
A very well known one is ‘would you like chips/fries with that’ used at many fast food restaurants, it’s still trying to sell an item that you didn’t originally intend to buy but would probably complement your burger nicely!
As a business you would use link selling to encourage customers to buy more items from you. This technique is very common in a retail environment and if you have an actual shop I would recommend you trying this technique and train any staff to use this technique too. It could be a simple as saying to a customer ‘have you seen…that would match/look great with this?’.
· If you sell jewellery and someone wants to buy a necklace suggest earrings or a bracelet to match.
· If you sell cosmetics and someone wants to buy bubble bath suggest a body lotion in the same range.
· If you sell toys recommend books about the character someone wants to buy (as long as you sell books too!).
· If you sell something that could be being purchased as a gift, suggest a gift box or gift bag to go with it.
The aim is to basically sell more than you would have done originally.
Link/Cross Selling in Your Online Shop
You can also use this technique on your online shops; most big brand websites do this. Tesco for example, on their Tesco Direct pages, have ‘you may also like’ items both at the side and underneath any items you view. Marks and Spencer also have a ‘you may also like’ as well as ‘customers who bought this also bought’, they are in effect suggesting you to look at other items that match the one you are already looking at. Debenhams also have ‘other items available in this range’ and a very polite ‘may we also suggest’.
This technique is also used more subtly by clothes retailers on their online stores. For example you don’t just see a picture of a pair of trousers on their own you see them as part of an outfit. The best example I can think of is Next’s online shop (and their catalogue too), you not only get shown a single item of clothing but you see the item worn with matching garments, shoes, handbags and even jewellery or other accessories. And every time I go on their site to look for just a pair of jeans I always want to buy more! (I am a bit of a shopaholic though!)
(For anyone not in the UK Tesco is one of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains, Debenhams is the UK’s biggest department store and Marks and Spencer and Next are two of the biggest retail brands in the UK.)
Ok, you may be wondering how you can do this on your website or Facebook page. One suggestion would be to simply write in a comment under the photo, ‘this item has matching…’ or ‘please see following photo/s for items in this range’ or even link to the photo.
You could even do an album for each range of matching items by doing a ‘group’ photo as the album cover and then putting photos of individual items in that album. If you decide to do a photo where someone is for example wearing an entire outfit or is wearing a necklace and matching earrings, make sure you clearly state the price of each item so customers don’t think they are getting all the items displayed in the picture.
Maybe you could even join up with another seller/shop for props? For example if you sell children’s clothes and do your own photos, see if someone could supply you with toys, shoes or even hair accessories. Be clear where all the items are available from and let the other seller/shop use the same photo to advertise their products displayed in it as they will also be advertising yours.
My suggestion would be to go and have a look at the big shop’s websites or catalogues. If possible look at ones that sell similar items to you and see what techniques, be it photographs or wording, they use to encourage customers to have a look at other items. I would be very surprised if you came across a big well know brand that didn’t in some way recommend other items they have for sale.
If you don’t have a business and are reading this as a customer, I hope I’ve also given you a little insight in to what shops do to get you to buy an extra item. They’re not just being helpful in suggesting matching items they want you to buy more stuff from them!
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