Upselling and cross-selling have obvious benefits for any company, no matter what the industry: more revenue.

The problem is, savvy customers can see right through the "You may also like … " line, and often stick with the original purchase. And this can feel even tougher if you work in customer success -- where your job isn't technically sales, but you might find opportunities to make sales in your calls or emails with customers.

For example, if your customer has successfully enjoyed using your product for a few months, you will be the best person to mention another product they can use with it -- or alongside it -- to get better results.

To really see success with your product suggestions, there's an integral part of the formula: customer delight. When you can convince your customer that your suggestions are for their benefit, then you can master the art of upselling and cross-selling. So, how can you go about doing that? Keep reading to learn how to use upselling and cross-selling to your advantage.

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 Cross-selling and upselling are often used interchangeably, but different scenarios with different customers can call for one specific approach over the other. The word "upsell" is applied to pretty much any instance where you suggest (or push) a product in addition to the one being purchased. By knowing the difference between upselling and cross-selling, you put yourself at an advantage.

Upselling is encouraging the purchase of anything that would make the primary product more expensive. For instance, a camera might come with an offer of batteries, and a printer purchase might prompt the suggestion for ink.

Cross-selling is the suggestion of any other product to be purchased in conjunction with the primary product -- a scanner suggestion when a printer is purchased or a conditioner suggestion when shampoo is selected.

1. Know which one gets results.

You don't want to bombard your customers with product suggestions -- after all, they've already made a purchase from your company, so you're trying to help them achieve more success by offering other suggestions they can use. With limited opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, you want to use the technique that will get the best results.

It's probably not surprising that upselling works 20X better than cross-selling. Once buyers have a product in mind, they don't really want to be distracted by something else. A product or service that makes their first choice better, though? That's something they can usually get on board with.

Sometimes up-selling isn't an option, though, as in the previous example of shampoo purchases. A cross-selling suggestion could still make that shampoo selection better. With a conditioner, frizz control products, curl enhancing sprays, and other items, you can help the buyer make sure they're fully happy with their hair after the purchase.

2. Offer upsells and cross-sells that make sense.

If you've ever waited on the phone for a customer service rep to help you solve a simple problem, only for them to offer a million "opportunities" before asking for your information, you can understand the frustrations your customers might feel. So suggestions a cross-sell or upsell that's completely out of left field will not only frustrate them -- it could endanger their relationship with your company.

Your suggestion has to fit the customer's exact needs at the very moment he or she is discussing them with you. Listen for signals like "I wish I could do X" or "Next we want to try Y" to give you an idea of if your customer needs more to achieve their desired results. Actively listen to their needs and desires, determine which of your products or services could help them, and offer a cross-sell or upsell.

3. Be honest.

If customers feel at any point that something's not quite right, they'll bolt. The more open and honest and transparent your sales team is during the purchase process to find a good fit, the more likely those customers will stick around and become loyal advocates.

Be up-front and honest with customers if you try to upsell or cross-sell while in communication with them. Transparency about pricing, contracts, and more will build rapport with your customer -- and could make it more likely that they purchase your upsell or cross-sell offer.

4. Demonstrate value.

Once you've determined that an upsell or cross-sell offer makes sense for your customer, your work isn't done. You need to make sure you can demonstrate the value the additional product or service would add for your customer.

You can use things like customer case studies, testimonials, and even positive customer reviews to show your customers how they can use the additional product you're pitching to achieve their goals. If you have data about the increases in KPIs customers can achieve using your product or service, share it. Make sure the value is clear to your customer so they can make the decision on their own -- without sales-y pushing, but by making a logical choice.

5. Reward loyalty.

If you successfully close an upsell or cross-sell, congratulations -- but your job still isn't over. 

You've successfully convinced a customer to spend even more money on your deal -- on top of the money they're already spending on the primary product. So you should make sure to reward your customers for spending more -- and for trusting your consultative guidance.

When a customer takes an additional step with you to spend more and remain loyal, take initiative and reward them for it. Some ideas for showing your thanks could include:

  • Sending them a thank-you letter
  • Sending them a piece of company swag
  • Offering them a free gift or discount code for a future purchase

With these tips in mind, you just might be able to increase your revenue through upselling and cross-selling. Just remember that these should always come second to the primary purchase and you'll be just fine.

To get more ideas, read our blog post about customer appreciation.

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Originally published Oct 23, 2018 5:33:00 PM, updated May 08 2020