Cross-selling and upselling should be a key strategic inclusion for any business plan, no matter the size or industry you operate within. Why? Because increasing sales from existing customers is a far more cost-effective method than winning new ones.

What is cross-selling?

When we cross-sell, we’re positioning an additional product or service to the customer to the one they have already purchased. If a customer is already at the point of purchase, it costs you nothing to try to sell them something else. A cross-sell strategy could increase your annual sales by 10% and your profits by even more. 

The good news is you can cross-sell at any point in the buying journey. For example, if you’re quoting for a product, you may cross-sell another product which supports the customer in another area of their business. Alternatively, you may do this when they come to renew, and you know they are already warm to the products. 

What is upselling? 

Upselling works by encouraging the customer to buy a higher end, usually more expensive version of the product or service.

When using this method, it’s important to understand your customer well. Upselling is an important part of the sale strategy, but you must use it effectively at the right time to the right client to avoid it seeming like a sales pitch. 

Four essential points for getting it right

1.      Understand your customer

Use your database to find out what products and services each client has previously bought. Aim to fully understand their business and any changes it’s going through or challenges it faces. By doing this, you can make sure the products or services you’re selling make sense and are relevant to them.

You can do this by highlighting how recent changes or developments to their business may have resulted in the need for additional products or services.

2.      Get your timing right

Clients are more open to cross-selling when they’re confident about the advice they’ve just been given.

Use your insight to identify opportune times are and target them. By doing this seamlessly, your client will see this as good client care rather than an intrusive sales pitch.

3.      Practice your pitch and be confident in your products

A lack of confidence can be a barrier to starting a conversation with your client about the benefits of a particular product or service.

Consider arranging an internal training session to give you and your team a broader understanding of the range of products available and how they meet your client’s different needs.

Providing your team with supporting marketing materials may also prove valuable. Emailing or linking to an explanatory document on your website can help to initiate the conversation. Having it to hand also allows your client to consider their options after the call, as well as having reason for a follow-up call.

4.      Reward customers for their loyalty

Successfully cross-selling or upselling a product or service is only half the job. It’s just as important to reward the customer for spending their money and trusting you and your business. This can go a long way and could even lead to further future sales.

A simple thank you note can be enough or check in on them every few months to see how they are getting on with their purchase. 

Building your cross-selling and upselling action plan

1.       To get started with your cross-selling and upselling plan, ask these questions:

  • Which products can you cross-sell or upsell?
  • Which client segments should you target?
  • What is the benefit to the client in each case?
  • What are the advantages for the client?

2.       Once you've agreed your cross-sell and upsell offering, think about these points:

  • When and how you should make the offer
  • Whether to include a staff incentive scheme to promote the offer
  • Carrying out role-play training if the offer is to be made face-to-face or over the telephone

Don’t forget, your clients already know and trust you, so expect a healthy response with a profitable outcome.

Working out the best ways to cross-sell and upsell products can be profitable for your business and prove valuable to your clients, so it’s worth taking the time to finesse your approach.

More on how to attract and retain clients