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5 tips for successful upselling and cross-selling in retail stores


The likelihood of a customer to make a second purchase is almost 30%. After they make that second purchase, the chance of third purchase skyrockets to 50%


The role of retail store staff is to ensure that they are able to increase sales made to customers. To be able to do this, they need to know and understand techniques that can influence the customer into buying more than what they came for. This cannot happen by forcing features on the customer, in the hope that they will get convinced and purchase more. It requires careful understanding and analysis of the customer needs, behaviors and attitudes, in order to be able to achieve the goal of a sale of a higher value.

Two of the most successful ways of doing this is through the techniques of upselling and cross-selling. These techniques define the art of introducing customers to better or complementary products to what they are currently interested in. An example of upselling would be to show a customer a higher end laptop worth 50,000 INR when he/she has made up her mind to buy one worth 40,000 INR. An example of a cross-sell would be to offer a phone cover to a customer who has purchased a phone.

Cross-sell and up-sell have been helpful in boosting sales in retail for years now. But it is important to do it right. Here are some top tips on how to get this right.

📣 Message for the reader

People forget nearly 90% of what they have learnt within just 7 days, unless the concepts are reinforced. That’s why employees swamped with documents, presentations, and classroom sessions are not likely to learn much.

However, time constraints make it difficult to reinforce vast concepts.

What can you do instead? Arm your employees with one concept at a time. Studies show the human attention span is only 8.25 seconds, so keep your training concise.

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1. Do your homework

Before a customer even walks into your store, you need to be well aware of all the pairings of complementary or higher versions of a product in your mind. Think about what general category of product goes best with another. With regular thinking and pairing in your mind, you will be better equipped with suggestions when a customer decides to make a purchase. Shoes and handbags, pants and belts, higher and better versions of a particular product – all these need to be clear to you. When a customer makes a purchase from any category, you should immediately be thinking about what to offer to make a second or even a third sale. Make sure you have good reasons to justify why your suggestions matter.

2. Make sure the additional product provides value

Making a successful sale is an art. It is a blend of excellent communication skills, thorough product knowledge, and understanding of customer behavior. Whenever you go ahead to make an additional sale, ask yourself if it is providing a greater value to the customer or not. Only when you genuinely invest your energy into understanding the needs of the customer will that customer go out of the store satisfied. Help the customer choose and make a choice with no use of force or a memorized sales pitch. Make every pitch customized and ensure that the additional product you offered makes perfect sense to the customer and actually benefits them. Get to know the customer before selling any additional product. Gauge their needs through what they tell you, ask them relevant questions and provide solutions accordingly.

3. Do not go overboard with prices

The biggest turn off for a customer could be when a salesperson offers an alternative product to his choice which is seemingly over budget. This shows recklessness and a desperation to make a sale without really caring about the customer’s limitations on budget. For example, if a customer purchases a shirt worth 4000 INR, it would make sense to offer a tie worth 400 INR. But if you try to sell a blazer worth 5000 INR to this customer, the whole math can go wrong. The suggested additional item needs to be within a certain acceptable and reasonable percentage of the cost of the original item. This percentage might vary for every customer which you need to find out yourself through your conversations.

4. Make customers touch and feel products

To effectively upsell or cross-sell products, you need to make customers see the value and benefit of the same. This is because the human mind responds more towards things that they can define as tangible. For example, if you are showing a higher range of a dress with a softer material, make sure the customer and touch and feel the difference in the material. Give them examples of how that is a better choice and a more popular product in that demography. Along with this, offer some benefits that can attract the customer more to your offer. This can be in the form of a discount voucher, extended warranty or reward points.

5. Be honest

Customers are extremely smart. They know when someone is willing to offer genuine help and when not. If customers feel at any point that they are being forced to do something for some ulterior motive of the salesperson, they get turned off. You need to be as open and honest about your suggestions as you possibly can. When offers being displayed are a good fit and honest, customers are more likely to stick around and keep coming back.

As retail store staff, you need to be upfront and honest with your customers while you try to upsell or cross-sell to them. Be transparent about pricing, offers, contracts, terms, and conditions. Such genuine involvement will help you build a comfortable and trustworthy relationship with the customer.

While upsell and cross-sell product recommendations can be greatly beneficial, make sure you use them right and give them careful consideration. As Aron Erza, CEO of OfferCraft says, “It is not just about what you offer, it’s about how you present it.” Use the right communication techniques, choose your words carefully and wisely and increase the likelihood of making a higher sale.

Thanks for being with us all the way here

Dear reader, thanks for being with us all the way till the end. We suggest 2 things from here

1. Speak to us if you want a microlearning strategy deep-dive: Microlearning is extremely effective, if approached sensibly. Microlearning is the answer to today’s shortening attention spans and we know how to make learning successful via microlearning. Drop your context here and we shall partner with you for the rest.

2. Lap up more content: We have written some intense literature on how microlearning is the superglue between people and successful business operations. Access all of it here.

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