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Cross-Selling and Upselling: Why Every Business should be doing it!

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Cross selling and upselling are two of the most commonly used sales strategies in any business, especially retail or wholesale businesses. Cross selling is when a sales person sells an additional product or service to that to which the customer is already committed to purchasing. Upselling is when a customer is offered something more expensive which can be more appropriate to their needs. Both cross selling and upselling can be extremely effective at boosting your revenue with minimal time and investment and is far more cost effective than finding new customers. In this article, we will explore the importance of cross selling and upselling in your business and how you can implement these strategies to increase sales and profits.

What is cross selling?

Cross-selling involves encouraging the purchase of anything complementary with the primary product or service which the customer has already purchased or committed to purchase. For example, if your business sells printers, a cross sale would be printer paper and printer ink. The optimal time to do the cross sell is at the initial point of purchase (of the printer) as the customer is already engaged with you and you have the opportunity to address all of their "pain points". In addition, this is the most "cost effective" time for you to offer any discounts as you have not expended any resources in generating the additional income.

What is upselling?

Upselling occurs when the sales person suggests an item at a higher price point.  There are probably certain items that customers are avoiding due to price, but may be willing to purchase if someone encourages them to do so by persuading the customer that the benefits of the upsell far outweigh a small increase in cost. Again, using our printer seller example, the sales person could move the customer to a higher model by demonstrating that the customer costs would be lower in the long term and the quality would be significantly better. A highly skilled salesperson will be able to "delicately persuade" the customer that the increase in cost is negligible and it is simply a "no brainer" not to consider the next model up.

A similar principle would be used for businesses which offer banded support services where the sales person would persuade the customer to move to a higher band where the level of service supplied is significantly better for a minimal increase in cost.


Why should your team cross sell and upsell?

Many consultants will list several points but in essence there are essentially 2 main reasons why you should encourage your team to cross sell and upsell:

  • Increase profitability and ROI.
  • Increase customer loyalty and reduce customer churn.


It's far easier to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones from a business standpoint because your company already has reputation and trust with your existing customers. In addition, your sales team doesn't have to prospect, evaluate, or build relationships with them as this work has already been carried out. It's therefore easy to see that by selling more value to the same customer base will increase profits and ROI as you get more 'bang for your bucks' with a minimal increase in time and investment.

Developing a customer account also increases the likelihood of client loyalty. The more products and services they invest in, the more difficult it will be for them to switch suppliers or develop their own solutions. Reducing client churn with methods like this is essential for all developing businesses as it helps balance the customer portfolio with a mix of established and new customers.

Sounds easy - why isn't everyone doing it?

Cross selling and upselling are two of the most effective ways of increasing revenues in your business - but that doesn't mean it's easy - growing sales isn't easy!

To effectively cross sell and upsell you need to have a cross selling and upselling strategy in place which covers:

  • Products and services bundling.
  • Optimatisation of online content.
  • Existing customer segmentation and targeting.
  • Sales staff training and development programme.
  • Targets.
  • Incentives.


Whilst this may seem like a lot of work it is significantly less than the work (and investment) required to identify, market to and win new customers.


The most cost effective way to increase revenue and profits is to cross-sell and up sell. However, cross selling and upselling must be part of a wider strategy supported by an effective sales training and development program and improvements to online content which bolsters your message.