8 Ways Agencies Can Upsell and Cross-Sell Their Customers

Irina Baranovskaya
Irina Baranovskaya
Content Marketing Manager
≈ 10 min read
Upd. on: 7 Oct 2021

“Buy these candles” “Would you like these candlesticks?”

How often do you get a counter-offer? The thing is, if we get something worth our attention or the thing that would come later, we could quite possibly buy it. Call it voodoo magic, but there’s an explanation for all this.

In the marketing agency world, using cross-selling and upselling techniques can be a great method that not only brings in more revenue but also helps build stronger relationships with customers.
In 2006, Amazon reported that 35% of its revenue was a result of upselling and cross-selling strategies.
In the book “Marketing metrics,” Paul W. Farris shares the result of their research: “The probability of selling to a new customer is 5–20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.»

This is a big difference. But when you come to think about it, it’s just par for the course. People are more likely to buy from a company that they already trust, than from the one they know nothing about.

Not only is it easier to sell an additional product or service than to make the first sale, but it also helps you grow faster.

Confession time. You remember your last trip to McDonald’s? A smiling cashier offered you a pie for dessert or sauce, right? One can hardly fathom what kind of sales growth these simple offers provide. After all, most clients willingly accept the offer (many of us have said so many times: “Let’s go”). And many offline sellers use this practice.

The best part? While implementing these tactics companies don’t spend a single copper penny. Investment is zero, and incomes are still growing. Sweet, right? But this isn’t the only advantage of upselling and cross-selling.

Cross-selling and Upselling: What’s for?

There are many definitions that could be found in the outer fringes of dictionaries. Mostly they’re written by salespeople, bloggers, and opinion leaders. Somehow they manage to take the point further, somehow they beat around the bush. The only way to understand the meaning is to approach each definition with seriousness.

As crazy as it might seem to believe, dictionaries won’t tell how you can use upselling and cross-selling for agencies. But we’ll do our best.

What Is Upselling?

upselling definition

Upselling is the practice of increasing the average cost of the order and sales in general. In short, it’s a way of encouraging customers to purchase a higher-end product with improved characteristics. For example, it may be a product of higher quality or more modern, from a famous brand, etc.

In this case, the buyer needs to be convinced that the proposed option is more profitable and in every sense the best possible purchase.

A key aspect: the buyer gets the offer of the same type of product.

How Upselling Works for Agencies

As said above, agencies can offer similar services but of higher price. Let’s try to shed more light on this.

Imagine an agency which performs a technical SEO site audit to help clients succeed online. This service can consist of a number of things like analyzing of back-end factors such as hosting and indexing, examining of front-end factors such as content, keywords, and metadata, and looking through link quality and outside references. At the same time, you can offer the expanded version of this package. This one may include writing SEO optimized content.

What Is Cross-selling?

cross-selling definition

Cross-selling is a marketing way of increasing profits without advertising costs.

The point is, additional products are offered with the main product. Thus you save on attracting customers and increase profits by about 30%, depending on your niche. Alongside this, the margin on such goods is usually higher than on the main.

It’s simple. Besides the fact that this tactic helps entrepreneurs to increase profits, it also improves the consumer experience.

How Cross-selling Works for Agencies

When considering the example to provide, it’s good to come back to the agency which helps clients with SEO. Only in this case, the agency above and beyond suggests SMM things not the expanded (and more expensive) version of services.

You might start to think about a never-ending chain of services or notice shortcomings in the quality of your agency performance, or worse. Hold your horses:

Watch out for while defining the service offering: you can be everything to everyone or nothing at all.

Let’s be frank, the issue of supersaturation of agencies is heart-rendering — because what would people do without their own business?

Perhaps more importantly, many office workers over time get enough certain experience to be able to share it, which then can turn into a company specialized in this or that field.

Smoking out the competition is hard, but it’s still possible.

More than anything your clients want to know exactly what you do and how well you do it.
Some clients may come to you needing only one type of service for very specific needs while another client might be looking for a more comprehensive full service.

Is it better to start with one or two key services and expand them later or start with a full service and them leach down?

Dylan Hey shares “When I first started as an agency owner in May last year I was offering every single service imaginable and overtime I worked exactly with requirements that were in my niche but now I beleive in less-is-better approach ”

Сross-sell Vs Upsell: What’s the Difference

Upselling and cross-selling: the McDonald's example“The Upsell is asking the customers if they want to go large with the drink. While the cross-sell is suggesting to a customer “Hey look, I think maybe fries and a drink will go well with your tasty burger”

Upselling and Cross-selling Strategies

Sometimes we tend to regret an experience: it’s all because of the fear of missing out on something or information superstition. This is partly because we’re chasing unique insights. Thus, we forget about tried-and-true methods which should be the basis of everything related to sales. Let’s review them one more time:

#1 Identify Happy Customers

Make sure your customers are satisfied with the service. NEVER apply upselling and cross-selling strategies to sell to angry or frustrated users.

The easiest way to identify happy customer is to ask them about it. Knowing who is on your side, is valuable for understanding who to send your suggestions to.
Kari DePhillips from The Content Factory suggest answering the following questions while defining happy customers:

  • Are the arrows consistently green and pointing upward in your monthly reports?
  • Has the client been with you for over a year?
  • Do you have a good working relationship, and does the client trust you and your/your team’s expertise?

If the answer is “yes,” then you’ve got a great candidate for an upsell — just make sure that the upsell will provide additional value or you risk burning the relationship.
Deliver results and ROI to make the clients happy

#2 Focus on How the Customer Will Benefit From It

Per Search Engine Land, 9 out of 10 people are looking at online product or service reviews, posts on social media pages, and so on. This fact shows demonstrating the success of other clients is an invaluable asset while establishing proof that what you’re offering is far way more than words on the “About us” page.

No one cares about your product. Everyone cares about their own problems. Show how people how they can solve the problem with your product or service.

So to say, if you want people to think you’re good, don’t say it show it.

Once upon a time, ASTROGLIDE, the world-famous personal lubricant, came to The Content Factory and asked them for help in improving the organic search traffic through search engine optimization.

Hitting the ground running, The Content Factory team started by conducting a full audit (a-ka magic scanning of ASTROGLIDE’S website content) which revealed the following:
Case study by The Content Factory

On second thought, a love potion in the form of content marketing strategy targeting high-volume, high cost-per-click keywords was put in place. The results have been immediate and measurable, with an average increase in keywords on the first page of Google.

Case study by The Content Factory

While conducting an operation like this, Kari notes that successful case studies of the service(s) the agency is proposing to go a long way toward convincing a client that they need additional service. Do they have the same types of problems that previous clients did, that your services solved? Did you show this effectively with your case studies? If so, the pitch tends to be a lot more successful.

Clients don’t want to be a guinea pig in your next experiment

Wisdom comes from experience. Once you have successfully upsold several customers you’ll get a more clear idea of which types of customers benefit most from additional services.

Kari explains, “The best way to use trends to upsell clients is to show them that their existing strategy, website or whatever is behind the times – and they’re missing out on traffic, leads and sales as a result.”

#4 Forget About High-pressure

Don’t be pushy. Are you desperate for the upsell?

“Even if you are, don’t act desperate – people can smell that from a mile away, and it’s a real turnoff”, notes Kari.

  • If a client doesn’t want the upsell for whatever reason, let it go – but don’t be afraid to revisit the conversation again in a few months.
  • Is the clients’ traffic, leads or sales down? Can your upsell solve the problem? Bring it back up as a solution to their problems.
  • If not, give it another three months and try again. I think the key to not seeming desperate with upsell pitching is to temporarily take the no.

Clients don't see the light on the first pitch because they aren't ready or don't have the budget

#5 Remind Customers Why They Chose You

So many people, so many minds. However, after years of experience, there’s not a single person who’ll deny the fact that business relationships can’t manage themselves.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. That is why advertising campaigns should not be used only for the most popular audiences who have never heard of your company before. Rather, sell the emotion-evoking components of your brand to past customers to make them stay with you for a lifetime.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What about your company, products or services that set you apart?
  • Why do customers choose you, and not your competitors?

Pointing these points in your messages to past consumers will evoke a sense of brand loyalty. You’ll stake out a jackpot if you find a true brand-loyal consumer. In this case, your chances of keeping them for a longer period of time and even getting referrals from them will increase significantly.

#6 Don’t Upsell More Than 25%

Say ‘Yes’ to competent pricing policy. The realities are such that up-selling is possible, provided that the proposed product is not much different in price. The client can pay 10-15% more expensive, but not more than 25%. Do not lose the sense of proportion, do not put pressure on the customer. The offer should not be intrusive and carry value for the customer.

If additional goods and services increase the total order for a smaller amount, it will be much more comfortable for the potential customer to agree to such a surcharge.


A wise word: if a visitor is interested in a package of services worth $100, don’t show additional services or products that can cost more than $125.

#7 Provide Excellent Reporting

If you want your agency to stand out among the many other agencies, you should not only offer the best services but also show your clients — only with the honest truth — the end-results with transparent numbers. In the end, it’s data that tells the story, not nouns, verbs, or adjectives.

Too many digital marketing agencies

It’s just worth spending a bit more time on creating a comprehensive report with all the analytics, comments, and suggestions for your client to understand what’s working and what isn’t for their business.

So if things shape up in your favor, reporting about it will demonstrate your value and skills. The more you can do to customize the work with reports, the more opportunities you will have to successfully upsell and cross-sell your services.

#8 Reward Customer Loyalty

This tip is about a dream to encourage customers to buy a little more than they originally planned. If you’re dreaming about doing so, reward them for spending money with you. There are several ways to do this.

  • Gift card
  • A thank-you letter
  • Free swag
  • A discount on one of your services

A customer who might consider a cheaper package of services can easily justify the higher price by seeing the offer for a gift card or a discount.

This is what makes customers loyal to a brand. As the saying goes, spread love and get it back.

How to Cross-sell and Upsell a Customer: Wrapping Up

We often think, ‘If only I knew that thing before, I’d go about it another way. Everything could be a far way better.’ But at the end of the day, we understand that doors open up for those who are knocking. So if you want to build a lifelong relationship with your customers and engage them to spend more money on services you offer without pressure or dark tricks, find the time to map out a course of upselling and cross-selling actions. They work, as the facts above state.


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