Cross-selling and upselling to increase your sales

Both cross-selling and upselling can be useful methods for increasing your business’s sales. But there are also genuine benefits for your customers. They’ll appreciate being offered an item that either complements or adds value to their original purchase.

The art of cross-selling

Cross-selling is the art of convincing your customers to buy a complementary item to go with their main purchase.

For example, if you’re selling books in your bookstore, you’ve got an opportunity to cross-sell by encouraging customers to purchase a pen or bookmark as well.

When deciding what items to cross-sell, look at what you can add to a sale to increase your profit margins, but also keep your customers’ needs uppermost in your mind.

Common cross-selling techniques

Although certain methods of cross-selling are largely dependent on what kind of product or service you’re offering, there are some basic, tried-and-true techniques that can be applied to almost every business.

Getting the hang of cross-selling and making a habit of it are essential if you want to increase your sales and provide additional benefits to your customers.

An important part of successful cross-selling is to be prepared. It’s not something you should improvise. Think about the products or services you’re offering and plan the ones you can sell together. What you’re offering as a cross-sell should be cheaper than the original purchase.

Some of the best and easiest ways to cross-sell are:

  • Bundling products. Offer a package deal, such as the book, pen and bookmark example above. Or if you’re clothing, add a pair of socks to make a ‘shoes and socks’ bundle to attract customers who sense they’re getting added value.
  • Incentivize. This involves tempting customers to spend just a bit more in return for a reward. For instance, you might offer free delivery on orders over a certain amount. So a customer would be more likely to purchase a little more to get free postage.
  • Combine products and services. This is a great method if the primary part of your business does one thing, but you can complement it with the other. Sometimes restaurants will have an area with cookbooks and condiments for sale, for example.
  • Complimentary add-ons. Suggest to your customers that what they’ve just bought would be so much better with another product – one that they will, in fact, need at some point. For example, if you’re selling hats in the CBD at lunchtime, customers might want some sunscreen to go with their hat purchase.

The key to upselling

Upselling is a slightly different selling technique, where you’re aiming to convince your customers to purchase a more expensive item, or to upgrade to the next product (or service).

Quite often you’ll be informing your customers of other options that they may not have even considered, with the aim of selling more and maximizing your profits.

Common upselling techniques

In restaurants and cafés, upselling is commonplace and an accepted way of conducting business. Customers generally view it positively – which is an important point to check. For instance, a car salesperson trying to upsell an average-priced vehicle to a more expensive one may not be seen so positively.

Some techniques you might consider when upselling include:

  • Preparing your website. If you do a lot of business online, consider setting up your website so that prior to each customer reaching the checkout, they are offered a comparative item (one that’s the next price level up). Highlight the features and benefits of upgrading in this instance.
  • Getting to know your products or services inside-out. Being able to compare products or services in ways where customers can see the additional benefits is crucial.
  • Listening to your customers. By really listening to what your customers are telling you, you can pick up key information like how much they’re willing to spend, what they’re looking for, and which products or services they’re more interested in.
  • Trying not to overdo your upsells. Be cautious about what each customer is willing to spend. A general rule is not to upsell an item that’s more than 25 percent more than the original one.

Use your experience and confidence

Cross-selling and upselling are selling techniques that you’ll get better at the more you try them. As you gain experience and confidence you’ll get a feeling for when cross-selling or upselling opportunities present themselves.

Learning the arts of cross-selling and upselling isn’t something you should ignore. They’re essential marketing tools and highly effective ways of increasing your sales, and inevitably, your profits.

Always keep in mind the benefits you can offer to your customers with cross-selling or upsell offers.

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