Tuesday 17 March, 2015

Bob Steele – Ecommerce Tips – Upselling, Down-selling and Cross-Selling to Meet Your Customers’ Needs

There are three common sales techniques businesses use to better meet customers’ needs and also maximize profits. These are upselling, down-selling and cross-selling. In your business sales processes, you should develop ways to use these selling techniques.


Upselling is when a customer makes a purchase or is about to make a purchase, and the salesperson offers them a higher priced alternative or an upgrade. For example, a waiter may suggest a higher priced wine than the one you’ve chosen for dinner because it will go better with the meal.

Another example is when a sales person recommends the buyer get an extended warrantee for an appliance they’re buying. This creates value for the seller because of the higher price, but also for the buyer, who gets several more years of coverage.

The idea behind the upsell is not only to create a higher-ticket purchase, but also to direct the customer to items they could use but maybe didn’t know about.


As the name suggests, down-selling goes in the other direction. Instead of the relatively high-ticket item the customer is considering, you offer them something with a lower price instead.

For example, imagine you’re a parent buying a guitar for your son or daughter to learn with. You select $500 guitar at the guitar shop, but the shop clerk suggests that a $100 starter guitar may be enough for now; you can upgrade later.

A software salesperson may offer a customer a more stripped-down version of the program without excess features they don’t need, or a similar item that’s cheaper and doesn’t have the unnecessary features.

It may seem odd that this is an effective sales technique. After all, by down-selling, you’re reducing your profits. But the value for the business is the trust it gains from the customer. When you down-sell, you show the customer that you truly have their best interests at heart.


Cross-selling is similar to the upsell, but the goal here is to offer the customer another item they can use with the item they’re purchasing. A common example is when Amazon offers you other items its algorithms tell it you might like. It says something like, “Customers who purchased X item also purchased this.”

When a PC dealer offers accessories to go along with the computer a customer is purchasing, they’re cross-selling. Similarly, a mobile dealer may recommend a mobile phone plan for a customer to go along with the phone they’re buying, or vice versa.

All of these techniques can be used to increase profits for you, but a truly expert sales person puts the customer first. They suggest the upsell, down-sell or cross-sell based on what offers the most value to the customer. If you do this effectively, you’ll create an excellent experience and value for the customer, and they’ll come back to you when they want similar product again.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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