The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Sales Strategy: When to Up-sell or Cross-sell a Customer?

sales strategy!Take a moment and think of times you were up-sold in the past.  It happens so frequently, that you don’t even realize it.  I wanted to order flowers on a website, another screen popped up and I ordered chocolates and I received free shipping…  I went to the auto repair shop specifically for an oil change and added two additional repairs that my service clerk recommended…  As a sales strategy, is this a bad thing or a good thing?

Let’s say you wanted to add cable to your home and so does your neighbor, except your neighbor tells you he got his cable for 1/3 of the price because he purchased internet and TV at a bundled price…  You would probably complain that you weren’t offered that deal.  

At some point in the customer relationship, customers expect to trust us and to look out for their best interests.  If additional products and services are valuable, they want to at least know about it.

The question is when is it the best time to Up-sell or Cross-sell a customer? 

There are a few optimal times during the relationship:

  1. The point of sale…  Using the example from above, if the customer understands how standard cable service will meet his/her needs and has decided to purchase, then they will also appreciate the opportunity to know how HDTV and SMARTTV might enhance the performance of standard cable service.  They may not re-evaluate their decision to buy standard cable simply because you’re talking about HDTV or SMARTTV (after all standard cable still meets their needs).  What they will be evaluating is what HDTV or SMARTTV might bring, and if that warrants the additional costs.  Most importantly, they will look to you as not a salesperson who is “selling,” but more of a consultant that is helping them make a decision.
  2. Product and Service Delivery and Implementation…  Customer Service plays a huge role in delivering the product and service to a customer in an efficient and effective manner.  If done correctly, this becomes an optimal time to “show and tell” additional benefits to an upgrade or addition to their product and service.  Customer Service personnel should be trained to recognize when it is appropriate to up-sell to a satisfied client.
  3. Post-sale…  Salespeople should be constantly aware of their existing customer needs and how they’re evolving by practicing good account management practices.  Keeping up with new ideas and technology will keep your customers a step ahead of the competition and will continue to build trust in the relationship.

We need to realize that the above are points of the relationship when we become more than just  salesperson to our customers – we are trusted advisors – and up-selling is adding more value to the solution which most customers would appreciate.


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Jeff Roth is a Client Engagement Director for the Center for Sales Strategy

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Topics: setting expectations sales strategy Sales