Tag archives: sales

Cross selling and income streams

Cross selling is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as

“the action or practice of selling among or between established clients, markets, traders, etc.”

or “that of selling an additional product or service to an existing customer”.

To highlight this, lets look at my favourite little Iranian stall at the Gardens Mall Food Court. It’s a simple stall run by an Iranian family. The food is simple, fresh and tasty. A lot of the customers are from the Middle East. Personally, I love their kebabs, rice and salads.

Recently, I noticed the stall started selling phone cards (with low rates to Iran and the Middle East). This is an ideal product for their customer base which will generate them extra revenue with minimal external outlay. Capital expenditure is small. They just need to purchase (maybe even on consignment) and offer the phone cards for sale. Placement was in a clearly visible area. Comparing the two products:-

1. Food products – limited lifespan, labour intensive, fluctuations in taste.

2. Phone cards – long lifespan, no labour, no fluctuation in rate and consistent quality.

Given the similar target market it would make more sense to sell this complementary product as opposed to even perhaps introducing a new dish!

The other product placed there was an Iranian magazine called Monorail. It was very focused on the Iranians in Malaysia with relevant advertisements and articles. This was probably a targeted placement by the magazine which produced a win-win for publisher and stall owner. The stall owner has a magazine for the lone diners (which attracts them thus increasing sales) and the magazine can hit its relevant target market (hence enhancing advertising sales).

This is a simple and easy to understand case on cross selling.

Key takeaways

1. Understand your target market – what do they need and are these needs being met?

2. If not – what additional value add could you give to them?

Revisit this on a regular basis and you will be surprised at your new revenue.

Checking in (to the hospital)

Recently, my wife had the misfortune of being checked into a hospital. She was referred by our GP and we took her to the A&E section. When checking her in, the hospital asked me which type of room we would like. I was offered a double room (shared with one other occupant) – RM188, single room – RM288, deluxe single room – RM388, executive room – RM488 and the executive suite – RM688. I was already in a rather stressed state. My question of what’s the difference? – got me shown a list of all the furniture in each room. In my stressed state I couldn’t really work out the difference was in rooms with an extra side table or fridge or microwave and took the basic single room.

Possible improvement. A hospital room is a fixed cost to the hospital. What should they do to maximize this revenue? They could take a leaf out of the hotel industry and look at occupancy rates and have variable pricing, i.e. should occupancy be low, they could offer upgrades at lower prices. In this case the lady could’ve informed me that the rate for the single room was RM288 and the deluxe single at RM388 but for this evening, I could upgrade to the deluxe single for RM350. During the entire time I was there the executive suite was empty which is a lost opportunity cost to the hospital. Offering an upgrade to the executive suite for RM490 would have generated incremental revenue to the hospital.

Customer focus – The check in staff should have been trained to look at the room from the point of view of customer benefits. They should’ve sold the room not based on the furniture but ask key questions (see below for egs).

Sample sales pitch

“Do you have a lot of people who will be visiting? Will you need to take a nap there as well? Maybe you should then upgrade to a room with a sofa.”

After the check in we discovered that hospital food was really bad (big epiphany!). Yes, we are not booking into a hotel, but really, the food was not just bad, it was inedible. Given the location of the hospital, it would probably make more sense to close the cafeteria and outsource all the cooking to one of the nearby restaurants. They could hire a motorcycle rider/van and just bring food in whenever necessary. They would have to deal some other issues such as low fat and healthy food and food hygiene during transportation, but that should be easily overcome with the right chef.


The hospital industry could benefit from the following:-

1. Customer focus – looking at things from the customer point of view from food to rooms.

2. Cross industry learning – taking lessons from hotel and restaurants in terms of processes.