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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 revenue via existing customers. Want to know how to upsell and cross-sell within your trade business? Read on.

No matter the industry you work in, 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, upselling and cross-selling 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. All this 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. So what is the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

  • 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

For example, when you’re asked if you want to add an extra patty 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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Upsell vs cross-sell

When it comes to an upsell vs a cross-sell, these techniques are best used in different scenarios.

Upselling techniques involve persuading customers to purchase a more expensive version of the product or service

Take the example of a plumber being called to fix a leak. On closer inspection, the plumber might be able to upsell by recommending a more comprehensive pipe replacement. Or more durable piping materials.

Cross-selling involves offering complementary or related products to the customer

For example, a plumber is hired to fix a clogged drain in the kitchen. Upon completion, the plumber could cross-sell the benefits of preventative measures, such as scheduled drain cleaning.

upselling cross selling

Why is upselling an important skill for tradespeople?

Often a customer relies on a professional tradesperson to guide them through difficult decisions. For instance, 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 during the decision-making process may lead a customer to invest more in a higher specification finish or service.

This may help them 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.

In turn, this will lead to:

  • Customer reviews
  • Repeat business
  • Referrals
  • Recommendations

Remember, upselling is often the result of detailed discussions during the early stages of planning a job. Therefore, it is based on your understanding of what could enhance a decision the customer has already made.

Upselling techniques are not an opportunity to sell customers products or services they neither want nor need. More on this later.

Upselling in practice

Here’s an example of how to upsell in practice to improve the customer experience, provide added value, and increase revenue.

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

  • 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, the bathroom fitter has recommended a more expensive type of tile. However, they know from their professional experience that it’ll provide a better finish, more longevity, and be easier to maintain. In other words, 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 their original purchase.

In turn, this will 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?

Yeah, better together!

upselling project

Cross-selling in practice

Cross-selling can be as simple as spotting an opportunity to carry out another service your customers may not realise they need.

Example 1: Providing a quote for lawn-mowing services and spotted a few unruly hedges?

As a gardener, let your customer know you also offer pruning and maintenance services

Example 2: Quoting to build some shelving in a customer’s home?

Why not mention that you also build bespoke storage solutions to your customers’ specifications?

Example 3: 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 through 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. Or you can even do so while quoting for a job, or once the job is complete.

However, for these sales techniques to be successful, you need to understand your customers’ needs.

You then need to present 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 must use the right language to communicate the value of your proposition. Ensuring 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 customers and what they want to achieve from the service.

What pain points are they looking for you to solve? This will allow you to identify what other services they may benefit from.

3. Educate the customer

Encourage your customers to consider your upsell or cross-sell by educating them about its advantages. 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. Then 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.

Tradesperson servicing a washing machine

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 old cross-selling technique!

Not convinced?

But seriously, if you’re looking to grow your business, 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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Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

*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 to products.

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