5 strategies to customize your upsells and crosssells

Posted on 12.7.2019
Written by Eva Ciga


The truth is; finding new customers can be a daunting task. Indeed, if you have been in eCommerce for long, you may have noticed that it is stress-free and affordable to retain an existing buyer than it is to acquire a new one. Estimates suggest that acquiring a new customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping existing ones.

It’s surprising then how online store owners allocate big chunks of their budget towards customer acquisition over retention. As a savvy business person, the smartest decision you can make is to prioritize increasing the average customer order and lifetime value.

So, how can you attain this?

This can be achieved via up-selling or cross-selling. Up-selling/cross-selling can empower you to increase revenue regardless of your industry. The strategies empower you in two primary ways; make more sales and increase existing customers spends.

What is Up-selling and Cross-selling?

Your loyal customers are willing to buy more from you; all you need to ensure is to push more intelligently. In 2006, Amazon recorded exceptional profits, and the company reported that 35% of its revenues were directly obtained through cross-selling. So what is cross-selling?

  • What is cross-selling:

Cross-selling is defined as a solid sales strategy used to drive increased sales by proposing complementary or related products to the one the customer has committed to buy. It is a tactic used to encourage customers to purchase anything in combination with the primary product.

For example, if a customer offers to purchase a printer, it would be cross-selling to propose the purchase of printing papers. Cross-selling should be structured to improve the shopping experience. As a result, the products and services you recommend to the customer should add more value to the initial purchase.

  • What is up-selling?

On the other hand, up-selling is an effective sales tactic used to encourage the customer to purchase an upgraded or expensive version of the initial product. The idea is that, if a customer has selected a specific product, it can be stress-free to convince him/her to consider an upgraded, or marginally different option.

For example, if a customer has offered to buy sunglasses, upselling could mean proposing sunglasses with UV protection or polarized lenses. In this case, the customer may be tempted to buy the sunglasses with uniquely polarized lenses since they offer extra protection to their eyes. Given a choice, many customers go for the premium versions. This impact sales figures directly and is a vital tactic that adds value to customers and boosts the bottom line of business.


5 Strategies To Customize Up-sells and Cross-sells

Cross-selling and up-selling are two reliable and time-tested sales tactics that can bring unprecedented benefits. The problem is, today’s customers can easily see through the line “you may also like…..” brush the statement aside and purchase the initial product. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly tricky to up-sell and cross-sell. For this reason, to derive any significant benefit from these tactics, you should be smart enough.

Here are some tactics to help you customize your up-sell and cross-sell strategies:

Put Customer First

As mentioned earlier, today’s customers are intelligent and knowledgeable and can easily read your up-sell and cross-sell strategy. If you are not careful with your message, the customer will interpret your up-sell/cross-sell to be another dirty and dishonest sales tactic.

So how do you do it right?

The first thing is; put your customer first. Take Mr. Jeff Bezos, for long Amazon.com has been the archetype of cross-selling and up-selling. Mr. Bezos once said that the reason Amazon has been successful is because they put customer first.

The strategy to successful cross-selling and up-selling is understanding your customers. What do the customers want? What do they value? Understanding your customer enables you to provide suggestions that add value and improve customer experience. And, the customers will be delighted and feel sincerely thankful for the suggestions. As a result, they will most likely, purchase the initial product together with a few of your suggestions.

Be Honest

Honesty is critical when up-selling or cross-selling. To succeed in your up-sell or cross-sell strategy, you need to be transparent and upfront with your customers. Customers hate being coaxed into a sale, and anything that sounds sneaky could end up ruining the customer relationship.

The more open you are in the sales process, the more likely the customer will trust you and stick around. Be transparent about the pricing, contracts, and the benefits the customers will get from the additional products and services. Take an upfront approach and talk to your customer about the investment they need to make to enjoy the benefits.

Also, it would be nice to break down the pricing to dispel any concern the customer might have about hidden or vague charges. You should also be honest with yourself and ensure that the deal you are offering is worth the customer’s time and yours too. Do due diligence and pinpoint the benefits the customer will get, if you cannot find any clear advantage, abort the plans.

Better still, define the target customers. Understand that not every customer is the right candidate for cross-selling and up-selling.

Demonstrate Value

Once you determine how the up-sell and cross-sell options will benefit your customer, you’ve just set the ball rolling. Next, you need to demonstrate the value the product or service will bring to the customers.

Today’s customers love investing in a business that offers a justifiable proof of a possible benefit. For this reason, you need to back up your claims with tangible evidence. Even some of your loyal customers will need some convincing to trust your up-sell and cross-sell options.

So how do you demonstrate value?

One of the best ways to show the value of your up-sell is providing quick wins. If you are selling a software product, you could give the customer a free trial of the upgrade. This will give the customer a taste of the benefit they will get from the purchase. A free trial will require less effort, but it will directly demonstrate the value the customer will gain.

In addition, you can utilize testimonials, case studies, and positive reviews to show a potential customer the long-term value they will gain. Whatever the strategy you use, make sure it demonstrates the instant value the customer is likely to achieve by using the additional product or service you are proposing.

Do not overdo it

Once you launch your up-sell or cross-sell plan, avoid overdoing it. Customers don’t like being deliberately sold to. For this reason, if you bombard them with numerous up-sell and cross-sell options, you will most likely change how they perceive your brand.

The idea is to be tactful and find intelligent ways to present the up-sell and cross-sell options in tactics that improve the overall customer experience. Giving customers too many additional options is counterproductive. This is because the more offers you give the customers, the more problematic it becomes for them to decide what to buy. To succeed, focus on the most appealing and relevant 3 or 4 up-sell offers.

Most importantly, avoid proposing products or services that proliferate the customer order value by over 25%. Take this example, if the first product selected by a customer costs $75, do not suggest an upgrade or an option that costs over $100. This is a rule of thumb; it’s quite simple, but when done right, it’s effective. Up-selling below 25% boosts your chances of boosting the average customer order value.

Reward Loyalty

Last but not least, always reward loyalty. It is an amazing experience to close an up-sell and cross-sell deal. Closing the deal is the ultimate goal, but that is not the end of the process. Customers love being appreciated, and it’s your obligation to reward their loyalty.

Of course, it’s not an easy feat to convince a customer to spend extra money, on top of the amount they already spent on the primary product. On the other hand, it takes a lot of trust and loyalty for the customer to accept your consultative guidance and spend more. For this reason, your customer deserves a reward.

Take the initiative and present your customer with a reward to demonstrate your appreciation. This could mean giving the customer discount code, a gift, or sending them a thank-you note. Rewarding loyalty is a way of encouraging the customer to shop in the future. By nature, human beings are obliged to reciprocate any kind gesture. If you reward customers for shopping from your store, they will most likely return in the future.


In summary, here some of the things to remember when cross-selling and up-selling:

  • Communicate clearly with your customers.
  • Be proactive
  • Understand your customers and pinpoint their needs
  • Tailor you up-sell and cross-sell options to the customer needs
  • Keep innovating.

These, together with the tips we’ve highlighted in the article, should help you come up with a ground-breaking cross-selling and up-selling strategy. Remember; convincing customers to spend more on your brand should not be a daunting task. While strategising for up-selling and cross-sell can be tricky, following our tips will most likely increase your chances of success.

Always, keep finding what works best for your business and don’t shy away from taking risks. Practice makes perfect, and with time as you hone your up-sell skills, you will improve the take-up rate on your cross-selling and up-selling offers.


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