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How to Upsell and Cross-Sell for Better Profits

June 8th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you struggling with how to get new customers for your small business? Are you desperately seeking leads or trying new marketing methods to attract new clients? A simpler way to boost sales and profits might be right under your nose: Try upselling or cross-selling existing clients.

Upselling or cross-selling refers to selling customers on additional products or services beyond what they’ve already purchased or committed to. We’ve all experienced this in a restaurant, for example, when you order an entrée and the waiter asks if you’d like a side salad too. How can you make upselling or cross-selling work for your business? Here are some ideas.

Identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. Go through your customer list and think about what products or services each customer could potentially use that naturally relate to what they’re buying from you right now. Also look at your product or service offerings to determine which products or services naturally complement each other and make sense to cross-sell or upsell.

Consider time. Cross-selling isn’t limited to tangible products or services. For example, if you’re selling someone a yearlong gym membership, can you upsell them to a longer contract? If you’re selling a product, can you upsell an extended warranty? Typically, you make the cross-sell work by lowering the price per time segment when the customer purchases a longer contract or commitment.

Train your sales team. Cross-selling and upselling works when it seems to arise naturally, not when it feels forced or like a blatant attempt to wring extra cash from a customer. Make sure your salespeople can execute the process smoothly, or their efforts could do more harm than good.

Use technology. If you have an ecommerce site, a recommendation engine that suggests related products based on what customers are looking at or what they have in their carts is a great way to automate upselling.

Create bundles or levels of service. A three-tiered scale with low-, mid- and high-priced products or services is effective way to bundle related offerings together without having to upsell them separately.

Cross-selling and upselling is an effective tool for every small business—and can lessen your reliance on a constant stream of new customers.

Image by Flickr user rarbol2004 (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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