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How to upsell and cross-sell to increase business revenue

Upselling and cross-selling might sound like fancy business terminology, but they're actually really simple ways to increase your business revenue with your existing customers. Want to know how to upsell and cross-sell within your trade business? Read on.

No matter the industry you work in or the trade services you offer, it pays to understand how to upsell and cross-sell your services and products.

Upselling and cross-selling provide the obvious benefit of more revenue, alongside several other positives. Done honestly and ethically, being able to upsell and cross-sell can allow you to offer your customers a more positive experience overall.

In this post, we’ll explain how to upsell and cross-sell to increase your revenue and improve your customer service, without coming across as a pushy salesperson.

What’s the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

Upselling and cross-selling are both sales techniques that can help to increase your revenue and grow your business. However, they are slightly different.

  • Upselling aims to upgrade or enhance the product or service the customer has chosen for a more premium or improved product or service
  • Cross-selling aims to recommend products or services that are complementary to a product or service the customer has already chosen

When you go to that fancy burger restaurant and you’re asked if you want to add an extra patty, flame-grilled bacon, or a layer of smoked halapeno cheese (yeh, we’ve gone real fancy), to your burger, this is upselling. You’re being asked if you want to enhance a choice you’ve already made.

But wait, you haven’t mentioned anything about fries, or chicken wings, but here’s the waiter asking if you want to add any sides. Cross-selling in action. That is, adding something complementary to your original order.

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Why is upselling an important skill for tradespeople?

Often a customer relies on a professional tradesperson to guide them through difficult decisions that may affect the final look and feel of their home improvement project and ultimately, improve their overall satisfaction with the finished result.

Timely advice regarding all options and outcomes of a particular approach may naturally lead a customer to invest more into a higher specification finish or service.

This may help them to achieve the “wow factor” they dreamt of or indeed, their finished project may now last longer than they originally envisioned.

The benefits of upselling

All of these factors will improve the customer experience and work to leave a positive lasting impression of your business, which leads to customer reviews, repeat business; and referrals and recommendations.

Remember, upselling is often the result of detailed discussions during the early stages of planning a job and is therefore based on your understanding of suggestions that could enhance a decision the customer has already made, based on your professional expertise. It is not an opportunity to sell customers products or services they neither want nor need. More on this later.

Upselling in practice

To help understand how upselling works in practice, let’s look at an example of how tradespeople can use this technique to improve the customer experience, provide added-value, and increase their revenue at the same time.

Example: a bathroom fitter is asked their professional opinion on the most suitable tiles for a small bathroom renovation in a family home.

  • While larger tiles may be more expensive than mosaics, an experienced bathroom fitter will know that larger tiles will make a small space appear bigger with fewer dividing lines between the tiles
  • And for a family bathroom, fewer grout lines mean the tiles will be easier to clean, increasing their longevity and reducing the likelihood of mould and mildew appearing
  • Depending on the customer, it might also be appropriate to recommend underfloor heating as part of the bathroom renovation project

In this example, even though the bathroom fitter has recommended a more expensive type of tile, they know from their professional experience that it will offer the customer a better finish, more longevity, and be easier to maintain, i.e. the customer benefits from this upselling.

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How can tradespeople use cross-selling?

Cross-selling involves prompting a customer to purchase additional items or services that will build on your customers’ original purchase to enhance the service they receive while increasing the overall value of the sale.

Remember that epic burger? It tasted great alongside a shake, didn’t it? Yeh, better together.

Cross-selling in practice

Cross-selling can be as simple as spotting an opportunity to carry out another service your customer may not realise they need until you suggest it.

  • Providing a quote for lawn-mowing services and spot a few unruly hedges and shrubs in a customer’s garden? As a gardener, let your customer know you also offer pruning and maintenance services
  • Quoting to build some shelving in a customer’s home? Why not mention that you also build bespoke storage solutions to your customers’ specifications?
  • Visiting a customer property to discuss the building of a loft extension? If it’s more space they’re after, let the customer know your building company also does extensions. Why not show them a few stunning examples of your recent work?

Think about the complementary services you offer and practice spotting opportunities to add value to your customers by making useful recommendations.

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5 steps to upsell and cross-sell your business effectively

You can look for opportunities to upsell and cross-sell before your customers purchase your services, while quoting for a job, or once you’ve completed the job.

However, for these sales techniques to be successful, you need to understand your customers’ needs and present the extra or more premium services and products as a benefit to them. It should never be forced or pushy; you want your customers to make up their own minds.

Want to know how to upsell and cross-sell like a pro? Follow our top tips and you’ll be sure to see the benefits, to your customers, your business, and your revenue.

1. Know your audience

Understanding your audience is key to these sales techniques. You need to use the right language to communicate the value of your proposition and ensure the choice is always in your customers’ hands.

2. Identify customer journey

This is something you can do during the purchase or order. You need to find out as much as possible about your customer and what they want to achieve from the service they need from you. What pain points are they looking to you to solve? This will allow you to identify what other services they may benefit from.

3. Educate the customer

If you want your customer to really consider your upselling or cross-selling techniques, you need to educate them about the advantages of your offer, as well as the risks and missed opportunities.

4. Don’t overwhelm your customer

The last thing you want to do is provide your customer with too many choices. Customers don’t want to spend lots of time choosing between a huge range of products and services. They simply want to see the differences side-by-side, so they can make an informed decision on the value of the services or products you’re offering.

5. Incentivise and reward customers

Customers like to feel like they’ve won when they make a purchase. When upselling or cross-selling, you could offer a discount on a future service or throw in a freebie to incentivise the purchase.

Want to learn more sales techniques to increase revenue?

Got the sales bug? Here are three more articles to help you sharpen your sales toolkit:

We can tell you’re ambitious, so here’s a FREE business development strategy template to help plan your business growth. If these resources weren’t completely free, anyone would think we were trying the ol’ cross-selling technique!

But seriously, if you’re looking to grow your business and connect with customers in search of quality, trusted tradespeople, a Checkatrade membership is well worth considering.

  • Checkatrade members receive more than 100,000 leads each week. 3 million homeowners used our trades last year. A third of all trade work comes through Checkatrade*
  • 8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade compared to one that isn’t endorsed**. The tick that homeowners trust, which helps you to win more business
  • Get exclusive access to trade deals, saving money on business essentials to help keep your profit margins sharp. Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year each*** on everything from equipment, van leasing, insurance, workwear, and more

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*Checkatrade brand tracking survey April 2021

**Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.

***Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Saving calculation based on average spend across 12,505 members in 2020/2021/2022. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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