Master the Art of Retail: See These Dos and Don’ts for Selling More

Upselling and Cross-Selling Tips for Selling More to Your Retail Customers

Training your retail salespeople to upsell and cross-sell items when your customers make purchases can make a significant difference in your store’s overall income and profitability. But too many retail salespeople neglect to cross-sell or upsell, either because they’re not motivated to do so, they’re not trained how to do so, or they’re afraid of seeming pushy.

Upselling means selling a customer a more expensive version of the product they’re considering. For example, a women’s apparel store might sell a bargain-priced white cotton shirt for $19.99, a heavier-weight, better-quality white cotton shirt for $50, and a similar-styled silk shirt for $120.

Cross-selling means selling add-on purchases that complement the customer’s primary purchase. Examples include selling a customer a phone case to go with their new smartphone or a scarf to complement that white shirt.

Upselling and Cross-Selling Tips

Both are easy to do once your salespeople know how. Here are some dos and don’ts:

1. Do have appropriate inventory. In order to upsell, you’ll need similar products at varying price points. Keep them within the same general range — for instance, carrying a $20 shirt and a $2,000 shirt at the same store wouldn’t make sense, but carrying a $20, $40 and $100 one would. In order to cross-sell, you’ll need accessories or related products that work with the primary products you carry.

2. Don’t jump right in to suggest products. Asking enough questions to understand the customer’s needs is key to successful upselling. For example, if a customer comes in looking for a white shirt, you could ask what occasion it’s for, what price she had in mind, etc. The answers will help you tailor the cross-sell or upsell.

  • Is it for an important occasion? “That’s a great shirt you’re holding. Since you mentioned you want to wear it to a job interview, you might be interested in this one, too. (Shows $50 shirt) It costs a bit more, but it’s better quality and won’t wrinkle no matter how nervous you get.”
  • Is the customer motivated by discounts? “We’re having a special today only — if you buy a blouse, any accessory is half-off.” (Shows scarf that looks good with shirt)
  • Is the customer on a tight budget? “That’s a great shirt for the price. If you add these dress shields, you won’t have to dry clean it as often and you can still keep it looking good.”

3. Do educate employees about your products. The more they know about your inventory and how items complement or relate to each other, the better they’ll be at making smart suggestions.

4. Don’t be afraid to use a little peer pressure. “If you’re looking for a white shirt, this one is one of our best sellers. We have trouble keeping them in stock!”

5. Do focus on benefits, not features. Always focus on how the product you’re trying to upsell or cross-sell will benefit the customer — not on its features. “Since you’ll be taking your phone to the beach, you might want to look at this waterproof case that also keeps sand out.”

6. Don’t fake it. Your interest and concern for the customer must be genuine, or they’ll know you’re just trying to sell them more products.

7. Do make it simple. Particularly when cross-selling, the purchase process needs to be seamless. You don’t want to keep a customer buying $300 shoes waiting while you search the stockroom for the $10 shoe polish you cross-sold. Have ancillary products stocked and ready to go.

8. Don’t wait until checkout. Upselling and cross-selling should start on the sales floor. Once they’re at the point of sale counter, most customers just want to hurry up and get out of the store. You’ll have more success by approaching customers while they are browsing, touching or examining merchandise.

9. Do know when to say when. If you’re really listening to customers, you can tell when you’ve crossed the line from “consultative selling” to “pushy salesperson.” If you’ve attempted the upsell/cross-sell twice and it doesn’t work, let it go.

10. Don’t show disappointment. We’ve all dealt with salespeople who treat us like a long-lost pal … until we say “No” to the extended warranty package. Keep the same friendly and helpful demeanor no matter what. Take the customer to checkout and thank them for their business.

Do cross-selling and upselling right, and you’ll have more satisfied customers. The result: Long-term loyalty, along with a boost to your bottom line.

Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.