cross sell vs upsell

Should I Cross-sell or Upsell?

For most businesses, salespeople are out there finding new customers and customer services/success teams are in there servicing and retaining those customers. With these in place and hopefully working well, as a business leader the question to ask now is “Should I cross-sell or upsell?”

Cross-selling and upselling are strategies to earn more revenue from existing customers. It’s a different type of sale to the cold call/prospecting type of sale but it’s just as important in the development of a sustainable revenue stream for your business.

When it comes to growing your revenue, including cross-selling and upselling strategies can have huge ROI for your business. If you like statistics (like I do) then here’s a doozy: acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5x to 25x more expensive than retaining an existing one. Customers you retain are likely to spend more and purchase more frequently. 

Existing customers are easier to sell to. You will have a 60-70% chance of success when selling to an existing customer, compared to the 5-20% likelihood of selling to a new prospect. So if you’re not actively engaging in cross-selling and upselling, you’re leaving money on the table.

The key to being successful at both of these is making an offer that’s appropriate for where the customer is at that time. In this article I’ll share some information about cross-selling and upselling. Looking at what it is, then how and when to do it.

So what is Cross-selling and Upselling?

Cross-selling is encouraging the purchase of anything in conjunction with the primary product. 

An example of cross-selling – “Would you like fries with that?” The customer has purchased a burger in this instance, so the fries are being cross sold in conjunction with the burger as a complementary product. 

Upselling is encouraging the purchase of anything that would make the primary purchase more expensive with an upgrade or premium

An example of upselling – “Would you like to add bacon to your burger for just $1 more?” Here we are suggesting a product that will upgrade the primary purchase.. and make it more expensive.

Where cross-selling is offering a complementary product, upselling is offering another product that’s an upgrade or premium of the primary purchase the customer has made.

So which is more effective?

Well this article suggests upselling is 20x more effective.. This may or may not surprise you from a salesperson’s perspective; it’s a bit easier to sell something related to what a customer has already purchased than to sell them something that’s complementary, but still, different. (That being said, I’ll always say yes to the fries question…so they both ofter have their place)

Think of it as the difference between a complementary product and an upgrade: Where cross-selling suggests another purchase alongside the primary product, upselling encourages customers to make an additional purchase to use with the primary product.

These sales approaches are often used interchangeable, but different scenarios with different customers can call for one specific approach over the other. Cross-selling and upselling can occur at the point-of-sale with a salesperson but how do you approach this with existing customers?

How do I Cross-Sell and Upsell?

You or your marketing team will often understand the certain life stages of your customers and where opportunities may be relevant further down the line with a customer, once they’ve already purchased the initial product.

Over the course of their relationship with you, there will be key stages which can be used as ‘checkpoints’ to engage with your customers and inform them about other options. 

1. Understand Your Audience

“Don’t paint your customers with a broad brush.”

It’s important to get to know your audience once they’ve already bought your product or service. Group your customers into tenure, regions, demographics, age and any identifier that will help make a more personalised engagement.

Review each grouping and try to understand what their goals and their challenges may be in order to identify the products you could cross-sell and upsell (that will be most useful to them).

Find that point in the customer journey that they’ll likely be excited to hear your call knowing that you might ask them to spend more money. Wait until they’ve reached this point before trying to cross-sell or upsell.

Avoid calling after they’ve just purchased your product, while they’re onboarding and before they’ve seen its value, as trying to sell to them here will likely be unsuccessful.

2. Choose The Right Approach

“Don’t try sell everything to everyone.”

Before you get on a call and attempt to cross-sell and upsell to an existing customer, take some time to review your product offerings and try align them with each grouped audiences.

Form a clear idea of common challenges your customers face and look at which of your products you can bring to the table that will provide those customers with additional value.

This will form the basis of your approach when making calls and will ensure that your customer is treated with a positive experience that’s tailored to them.

Spending time to create appropriate calling scripts can help with a more consistent and professional approach, keeping your calls both pleasant and informative for your customers.

3.Use the right people to cross-sell and upsell your customers.

Your current team might be able to cross-sell or upsell on the fly during a phone call or over an email exchange (or live-chat exchange), but often they are handling many different business objectives, lack experience or the right sales skills to be truly successful. 

It’s important that you chose agents with experience in warm sales, open questioning, active listening and reading skills for picking up signals that your customers might be ready to hear your offer.  

You want to provide your customers an enhanced experience, so avoid taking risks on using unskilled staff that might jeopardise your valuable relationships.

By using the right questioning techniques, a skilled agent will be able to uncover new needs and determine if a customer will benefit from either upselling and/or cross-selling. Once known, the agent can simply link the benefits of the specific products or services that address these customers needs.

This is where you may consider partnering with an outsourced partner to immediate access these skilled and experienced resources, keeping your internal team focused on existing objectives.

If you would like to discuss how Evolved Contact can help run and maximise the ROI of your cross-selling and upskilling activities please enquire here

Sources: Harvard Business Review; Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance;; Hubspot; Evolved Contact