Marketing & Growth

How to Upsell and Cross-Sell Your Customers

By Rieva Lesonsky

Your and your salespeople’s skill at upselling and cross-selling existing customers can add a substantial amount to your business’s revenues. Upselling means convincing customers to buy a better, more expensive version of a product or service they’ve already decided to buy; cross-selling means selling customers products or services that are related to or complementary to their purchase. How can your company do better at both? Try these tips.

Make the Effort
Many times, employees don’t remember to upsell or cross-sell on a consistent basis—they just do it whenever they happen to think of it. Educate your salespeople about how much successful upselling and cross-selling could add to your business’s bottom line and to their paychecks. Create a system that builds a step for upselling and cross-selling into your sales process.

Make the Initial Sale First
Pushing a more expensive or additional product or service too early in the sales process can turn the customer off, as it appears too “salesy.” Instead, wait until the customer has placed the initial order to suggest upgrades or add-ons.

Make an Assumption
Salespeople stand a better chance of success if they suggest an upgrade or add-on confidently, assuming that the customer will say yes. Don’t make a big deal out of the offer or do a huge sales pitch around it; just suggest it and briefly mention the benefits, such as how it protects the investment in the initial purchase or makes it easier to use. If the customer does say no, don’t try to force the sale.

Make it Easy to Buy
Offering a limited number of choices for add-ons or upgrades simplifies the decision-making process. Even offering just one or two choices can be enough. Offering the products or services that have the best track record as add-ons or upgrades increases the chance that the customer will say yes; you can even say something like, “Most of our customers in your industry like to add phone support with that. It’s just $10 more per month.”

Make it Affordable
When cross-selling, never suggest a product or service costing more than 25 percent of the price of the original purchase. The lower the cost of the add-on item, the easier it is for the customer to say, “Sure; why not?” Similarly, don’t try to cross-sell too many items at once.

Make use of Technology
Customer relationship management (CRM) software enables you to track customer preferences and purchases so you can tailor future upsells or cross-sells to their interests and buying habits. You can also use automated email marketing to send customers emails triggered by previous purchases or by their actions on your business website. For example, if someone buys a certain software system from your company, you could trigger a call or email a month after the purchase to follow up and suggest complementary products or services. If you notice that same customer has been browsing on your website for information about a related product or service, you can follow up with a call or email.

Make it opt-out Instead of Opt-in
Whether you use printed order forms or online checkout, you can boost add-ons and upgrades by pre-selecting them on the form so that customers have to opt out if they don’t want them. The point of this is not to trick them into buying something, but simply to present the additional products or services as something that most people buy.

Need ideas for ways to upsell or cross-sell your products and services? Consider:

  • Offer package deals that bundle products or services together
  • Offer bulk discounts for products
  • Offer month-to-month, quarterly or annual service contracts
  • Offer insurance or extended warranties
  • Offer automatic updates
  • Offer three different levels of products or services, such as silver, gold and platinum

Since it’s easier to sell more to existing customers than to get new ones, upselling and cross-selling are smart strategies for boosting your sales without a lot of additional expense.

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