“Would you like fries with that?” What McDonalds can teach us about Cross-Selling

“Would you like fries with that?” What McDonalds can teach us about Cross-Selling

One of the easiest, and best ways to increase your business’s revenue and profitability is to sell more services to your existing clients.


Of all the business issues I discuss with my clients, the one that comes up over and over again as a real opportunity area is cross-selling. In fact, I’m yet to meet a client who doesn’t see this as a important topic for them and their business.


So why is it that so many businesses recognise cross-selling as an area for potential business development, but few seem to be able to harness its potential? It certainly isn’t a lack of willing.


“Would you like fries with that?”


Good cross-selling is an art. It is all about timing and relevance. It is in no way about manipulating customers. The most effective way to sell more to someone is when they have a genuine interest in it anyway. And the textbook example is the McDonald’s company’s ” would you like fries with that?”. That small question allows McDonalds to sell over 4 million kilograms of fries globally every day. *


And, they don’t stop there. McDonalds’ employees then ask every customer if they would like a drink or larger sizes. The incremental revenues due to these small cross and up sells do wonders to boost the company’s bottom line. 69 million customers per day * being asked to buy more. Interesting, isn’t it.


Now before you wonder where I am going with this, I am not suggesting you take a fast food approach to your professional clients. But, what I am highlighting is that cross-selling and up-selling is an established and well recognised sales technique, that most accept as normal and expected. So why not in selling professional services?


Approaching existing clients to cross-sell 


Never underestimate the importance of your existing satisfied clients. We all know it costs a lot less to keep a client happy than to find another one. And it costs a whole lot less to sell more to them than it does to find new clients too.


Selling more to these clients is quite different to selling to new clients too. They already understand your reputation, your skills and the quality of your advice and service. Of these things the client is already convinced. The key is to demonstrate your understanding of their needs, and bring to their attention relevant and useful services that you provide, at the right time.


Your approach should reflect the already good relationship you have with your client. As long as you are suggesting services that are appropriate, they will genuinely appreciate the offer.


“I didn’t know you did that”


Here’s a thought for you – of the many clients you have worked with recently, how many only really know about the products that they have bought from you? Do they know what other services you provide? Please don’t assume they do. When people buy something they are usually focused only on that thing.


Simply telling your clients about the other services you provide can bring in more business on its own.


I see so many people making assumptions about what their clients know about their offering. Please, don’t be one of them. Clients know what you tell them, that you can be sure of. What you hope they pick up from your marketing is another thing all together.


If a client has ever said “I didn’t know you did that” to you, then you will see my point.


So, what’s stopping you?


There are lots of reasons why buisnesses do not cross-sell well. What is important is to identify the issues and work sensibly to overcome them.


Here are some common issues that I see regularly and some ideas for overcoming them.


Barriers to cross-selling 


  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of knowledge about what others do
  • Lack of trust in other’s capabilities
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Not knowing how to cross-sell
  • Financial considerations
  • Lack of understanding of a clients business
  • The client’s current understanding of your firm


Ideas to cross-sell more:


  • If possible, remove physical barriers in the office
  • Organise cross-department client facing teams
  • Promote good cross-selling behaviours and role models
  • Invest in education internally and encourage cross-firm learning
  • Ensure senior people act as role models
  • Introduce remuneration and incentive packages to drive good behaviours
  • Ensure a consistent client service across all departments
  • Encourage fee earners to do what is right for the client
  • Develop the process and skills of cross-selling
  • Invest non-chargeable time in developing client understanding and their sectors
  • Introduce a wider range of contact points to a client
  • Change your marketing approach to added value
  • Only sell what is appropriate, when it is appropriate


Contact me


For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on + 44 (0) 7736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.


I look forward to speaking soon.


Cross Selling




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