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

One of those benefits is obvious: more revenue.

The problem is, savvy customers can see right through the "You may also like … " line, and often stick with their original purchase. And this can be 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.

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, you can master the art of upselling and cross-selling. But how exactly do you go about doing that?

Keep reading to learn how to use upselling and cross-selling to your advantage.

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What is upselling?

Upselling 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.

Upselling can increase a key sales metric that your team should track: average value per transaction (AVT).

This KPI tells your sales team how much revenue the company is making relative to how many people purchase products or services. One way to quickly raise the AVT is by upselling and adding on products that your customers need and express interest in purchasing.

What is cross-selling?

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 a product in addition to the one being purchased.

By knowing the difference between upselling and cross-selling, you put yourself at an advantage to sell more and solve the customer’s needs.

1. Determine which products get the best 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.

Tools like Crossbeam can make upselling and cross-selling seamless by finding customer overlaps between your business and other businesses within the ecosystem. The tool helps salespeople identify partner solutions that the customer would find valuable in addition to the product that they’re selling. It’s a win-win-win for your company, the partner company, and the customer.

3. Upsell and Cross-sell with integrity.

If customers feel at any point that something's not quite right, they'll bolt. The more transparent your sales team is in finding the perfect product fit during the purchase process, 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. Using tools like PartnerTap can give you a behind-the-scenes look at what really matters to the customer by collaborating with other business partners. As a result, you’ll foster transparency about pricing and contracts, and build rapport with your customer — making it more likely that they purchase your upsell or cross-sell offer.

4. Demonstrate value before making the pitch.

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 that the additional product or service will add to your customers' lives.

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. Tap into your network for upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

The ultimate goal of upselling and cross-selling is to solve a customer pain point and deliver value.

If you use channel sales to drive revenue for your business, you’ll find these sales reps tend to identify natural opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. Partners who sell your product or service on your behalf have access to additional networks that your in-house team might not. They may be able to leverage additional products and services that work in conjunction with the main purchase which brings more value to the customer.

Allbound is one of the leading partner portal solutions on the market and can help third-party sales reps identify these opportunities to upsell and cross-sell according to your process and preferences while maintaining a high standard of integrity.

6. Reward customers for their loyalty.

If you successfully close an upsell or cross-sell congratulations!

However, 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 remains 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

Take your business’s revenue up, up, and across with upselling and cross-selling techniques.

Don’t be afraid to get carried away by the idea of upselling and cross-selling to existing customers. When done with integrity, upsell and cross-sell opportunities can be beneficial for the customer just as much as they benefit your sales KPIs.

The perfect time to mention an additional opportunity to purchase is when there is a true need for another product or service your company offers. With these tips in mind, you just might be able to increase your revenue through upselling and cross-selling.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Originally published May 3, 2021 1:15:00 PM, updated May 03 2021