Upsell, Cross-Sell Or Both?

Posted 14 September By Hanju LeeSalesNo Comments

Upsell, Cross-Sell Or Both?

I had a meeting with a potential client yesterday and he said something that really aligned with what I’ve been thinking about…especially for this series of how to increase sales for your business.

He said when he goes on a site to purchase something, he’s always looking for options to see if this is the product he wants to purchase or if there are better options available. Like colors, features, sizes, levels of quality, etc. In other words, he wants choices. This is called upselling.

Also, he said when he decides which one he’s going to buy, he’s interested in what else he can purchase with it. For example, if he’s buying a printer, wouldn’t he like to purchase a set of ink cartridges to keep on hand? If he’s buying a portable pet water bottle, wouldn’t he like to purchase a nice matching portable food bowl with it? How about if he’s buying an air freshener for his smelly car, wouldn’t he want to purchase a new Maserati to go with that fresh smell? In other words, he wants the whole package. This is called cross-selling.

Here are the definitions for more clarification:

  • Upselling is when a customer is offered an upgraded version of what they were originally going to purchase. By paying a little more, they end up with a better product.
  • Cross-selling is when a customer is offered complimentary items to go with their purchase. By paying a little more, they get additional accessories.

A great example of upselling is at Coldstone Creamery, where the smaller size is called “Like It,” but for just a bit more you get the larger size called “Love It.” Who wouldn’t give up a little pocket change to move from Like to Love??

Meanwhile, cross-selling is when you’ve ordered your coffee and the person at the register asks, “Would you like something to eat with that?” I originally just wanted x, but now that you mention it, y does go nicely with it, thank you very much.

Both strategies lead to increased profit, but in different ways. Upselling grows the revenue through a higher level product, while cross-selling through suggesting more products to buy. 

As a business, there are some great advantages of upselling and cross-selling. In both cases, you’re offering added benefit to the customer for just a small increase in price. The more helpful your recommendations, the more they will trust you and continue to buy from you in the future.

But the key is: keep it relevant. These types of offers only make sense because they match up with what the customer is currently buying. Imagine how confusing it would be if a barista said, “Would you like an oil change with that?” The more you know your customers and make suggestions with a personal touch, the more effective your upselling and cross-selling will be.

I’ll close with one more story I saw on Twitter: a man in McDonald’s ordered an apple pie, and the cashier said, “Would you like to do two apple pies instead?” They gave no reasoning or context for it, but the man said, “Yes.” It’s a rare occurrence that qualifies as both upselling AND cross-selling, but let’s be honest: the only thing better than one apple pie is two.

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