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Use Cross-Selling and Upselling to Boost Revenue Potential

Growers discussing Input Programs

“Would you like fries with that?”. You’ve likely heard this phrase a time or two while indulging at your favorite fast-food burger joint. It’s a simple – yet effective – form of cross-selling that may motivate a customer to spend a few extra dollars to complete their meal.

Whether it’s fast food or ag retail, the goal is the same: to increase sales, boost profit margins and add revenue. When executed effectively, cross-selling and upselling present excellent opportunities to increase your bottom line by expanding sales with customers you’ve already secured business with.  


What’s the difference between cross-selling and upselling?

First, let’s clarify the differences between cross-selling and upselling, as there can be some confusion between the two strategies. Cross-selling involves selling an additional product or service that fits well with what the customer is already purchasing. If you refer to our fast food example, offering fries when a customer orders a hamburger illustrates cross-selling in action. A relevant ag retail example would be recommending an effective adjuvant to increase the performance of a contact herbicide your customer is buying.

On the other hand, upselling offers a premium or more expensive version of a product or service that a customer already plans on purchasing. If your cable provider has ever sold you on more channels than you currently have at a discounted price, you’ve seen upselling at work. In the ag retail world, upselling might be offering a new, premium fungicide that contains multiple modes of action to a customer with a history of hard-to-manage foliar diseases.


When should you cross-sell?

Not every customer is a good fit for cross-selling. You must segment your farmers to target those that would benefit from buying more products or services to complement the ones they’re already purchasing. Some farmers just won’t be open to spending more money than they’ve already allocated or aren’t comfortable experimenting with new products or services they are unfamiliar with. That’s ok. Focus your efforts where you are likely to win.

Cross-selling is easier once you’ve established credibility and have had some on-farm wins with your customers. After customers have seen the value your recommendations add, they’re more likely to consider complementary products and services that supplement their success.


When should you upsell?

Upselling is often easier than cross-selling because the customer is already interested in purchasing the product you’re trying to upsell. If you know a farmer is already going to invest in a product or service you’re offering, recommending a next-level solution seems more attainable than presenting a completely new product category.

New product launches are a great time to initiate an upsell. You can explain how the new product differs from what the customer already uses and articulate the added value it could bring to their operation. Upselling is also very effective when you’ve identified a performance gap that a premium product or service could fill. For example, suppose a farmer uses a nutrient source that isn’t immediately plant-available and doesn’t see an efficient crop response. In that case, you may recommend a more premium formulation to satisfy the crop’s nutritional needs and the farmer’s expectations.


How can you cross-sell and upsell effectively?

Cross-selling and upselling require thoughtful planning to ensure you’re targeting the right customers at the right time with the right products and services. Here are some tips to boost your success.

Determine customer problems

Pay attention to the challenges your customers are facing to find opportunities to cross-sell or upsell solutions they may not be using today. For example, if a customer complains about high fertility costs, you may recommend soil sampling to develop a more prescriptive crop nutrition plan.

Use data

Customer data is a gold mine for cross-selling and upselling. With seasons worth of purchasing information, you can easily spot customer trends and identify opportunities to boost business with your farmers.

Take a full-acre approach

When you go into any sale, you should be looking for ways to get on more of the acreage. Don’t settle for selling one product at a time. Instead, take a holistic view of the crop production plan and match the right products and services to a grower’s season-long needs. Seed purchases are an excellent time to discuss a comprehensive crop management strategy, lock in fertility and crop protection purchases, and in-season services, such as scouting and tissue sampling.

Keep it simple

One warning about cross-selling and upselling: it’s easy to overdo it. Keep your recommendations manageable once you’ve identified an opportunity to promote additional products or services. Offering one or two key products is effective; any more can add confusion and may be counterproductive. Presenting too many choices may even cause the grower to abandon the sale altogether, so be mindful of your approach.

Consider loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are an excellent way to reward repeat business and incentivize customers to spend more dollars with the same supplier. You can leverage a solid customer loyalty program in your cross-selling and upselling efforts.

Follow up

Your ag retail team should follow up with customers to gauge satisfaction and evaluate product performance after every sale. Follow-ups show you’re invested in the farm’s success and can help you understand how you can continue to add value with more premium products or complementary services. Did your recommendations meet the grower’s expectations? If not, how can you improve?


Inspiration for cross-selling and upselling

You know the difference between cross-selling and upselling and understand how to use the strategies effectively. Still, you may need some inspiration to execute them with your customers. Here are some ideas to help get you started.

Cross-selling opportunities

  • Offer aerial imagery services to accompany in-season scouting
  • Recommend an effective drift reduction agent with a dicamba purchase
  • Offer a premium fungicide on acres where a disease-susceptible hybrid is purchased
  • Suggest adding a premium seed treatment on early-planted soybeans
  • Encourage in-season foliar nutrients with pesticide tank mixes

Upselling opportunities

  • Recommend a hybrid with an exceptional above- and below-ground insect trait package on corn-on-corn acres
  • Encourage a premium fertility plan over a foundational program
  • Suggest the latest weed control technology to replace older chemistries
  • Offer a more comprehensive prescription service than the customer is currently using

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