Up-Sell, Down-Sells, Cross-Sells, and Fist-Bumps — Oh My!

How to earn more from your customers without making them angry

August Birch
Aug 14, 2019 · 6 min read
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Photo by Kirsten 24K on Unsplash

e’re creators and visionaries. We’re makers, do-ers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs. We’re in this because we can’t imagine doing anything else. We believe in our work and we believe in it so wholeheartedly that we want the best for our customers.

However, sometimes in this pursuit of awesome, we leave a ton of money on the table.

I hear this a lot, so I’d like to dispel a little bit of misinformation about selling. People will only be upset with you if you offer them products or services that have nothing to do with their mission, or you haven’t shown them the transformation possible, with your product in their life.

This isn’t to say you can’t overdo your pitching.

For most, however, we can double or triple our income without making our current customers angry in the process. There’s no secret about the agreement between you and them. Your tribe follows you, not because they want you over for Christmas ham, but because they believe in your work.

This is a commercial relationship from the get.

You absolutely should treat your customers like family. You should never offer them products you don’t stand-behind or fully believe in. But you sure-shootin’ can offer them a lot more than you are now.

How to sell more

First, never run out of products or services to offer.

This can be done over time, so don’t freak out. But this is the number one rule. Always have something more to sell. You never know where your customer is along the buying continuum. Maybe they don’t have time to read your five dollar book, but they’ve got plenty of money to shell for your $10,000 hand-holding service. Offer tiered products and services.

Next, offer more at the time of the sale.

This means up-sells, down-sells, cross-sells, and order-bumps. There’s an art to this process. And I’m no expert by any shot, but here are a couple things you should know:

  1. Wait for payment for the first purchase. This requires software in the sales process that does all the work for you. Once the customer agrees to make the first purchase, and enters her card info, then (and only then) do you make an up, down, or cross-sell. If you try for the up-sell before the card goes in, you’ll likely lose the entire order if the person isn’t interested in the additional offers.
  2. Don’t annoy them to death. I’ve seen this done well and poorly. Don’t use more than one up and one down-sell offer. If you go on forever with this, we’ll think you’re a scam artist and not a legit business owner. Honestly, I think two additional offers is too much, but I’ve got no data to prove it.
  3. Order bumps are not annoying. They are seen as a bonus. An order bump is “hey, if you want a second XXX with your order, I throw in another for half price and free shipping!” I’m very sensitive to order bumps. They get me every time and I almost always take them. Your customers will love them too. They already want what you’re selling. They put in their card. Of course they’ll want another one for half price or 75% off. Or three more for the price of two.

Sell soft, but sell often

I’m talking about your email correspondence. If you have the products available, sell in every email you send. There are different types of emails, some will be a full pitch for a new offer. Others will be pure value for the reader.

But you should soft-sell in every piece of correspondence.

Remember, you won’t hurt the reader’s feelings. This is a commercial relationship. We love to buy stuff, we just don’t like being pushed around to get there.

How to soft-sell: Write a well-written article or email, with a valuable, actionable takeaway in the end. Even if your reader buys nothing from you, she’ll still benefit from your email.

At the end of your email/article, give a little “if you’d like to know more…” statement. Show that you’ve got a premium version of the knowledge you just bestowed upon the reader. If she’d like even more, she can click the link to your sales page.

Let the sales page do the heavy-selling.

The soft-sell only has to get the reader to click the link. You don’t need to sell your service from the soft-sell. It’s a step-wise process. Our customers need more exposure to our offers than ever before.

The old marketing rule used to be that a person needed seven exposures to your offer before they’d make a buying decision. Today it could be 20, 30, 50, or more. Sure, sometimes we impulse-buy, but for the big decisions that cost more than the money in our wallets, we need a lot of hits before we buy.

I share this story frequently (because it’s important):

I recently purchased a workout program from a YouTuber I’ve followed over four years. Every week he emails two videos, relentlessly, without fail. This means he’s had up to 416 touches with me before I made my buying decision to spend a hundred bucks.

This is extreme, I get it.

I also don’t normally take this long to make a purchase decision.

…but in the end, his process worked and he got my money. What if this YouTuber gave up after three tries? Or one hundred? You — me, we’re giving up too early.

Don’t give up too early

As creators who care, we’re in this for the long-haul, not the quick buck. We can earn more and sell more per year, if we make more thoughtful offers. We love buying stuff, don’t forget.

We just don’t want to be sold.

There’s a difference. The buying process is never rational, as much as we’d like it to be. I could’ve spent a hundred bucks on my silly workout program four years ago. It wasn’t about the money. It was about how I felt about the seller’s message.

You don’t have to fire-hose your sales pitch to close the customer.

We know you’ve got stuff to sell. Remember, we know you’re not our Aunt Tilley. Make an offer in every piece of correspondence, but take it easy on us. We’ll see the offer, don’t worry.

We’re not stupid.

We need a lot of exposure to your products before we’ll make the buying decision. Those of us who take longer to decide are your biggest pool of paying customers. The low-hanging fruit feel good, because they buy now, but they’re a much-smaller pool.

Stay in the game.

Make more offers.

You’ll get more sales.

And if you want to build a email list the right way, with real customer engagement, fewer unsubscribes, and more clicks — tap the link below and enroll in my free, Tribe 1K email masterclass. Get your first 1,000 subscribers without a penny in advertising.

We’re waiting for you.

Enroll in my Free Email Masterclass. Get Your First 1,000 Subscribers

August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make work that sells and how to sell more of that work once it’s created. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.

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August Birch

Written by

Blue-Collar Indie | Marketing & Email Tips for Writer-Creators | Tap for My FREE, Tribe 1K Email Masterclass: bookmechanicmedia.com/your-first-1000-subscribers/

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

August Birch

Written by

Blue-Collar Indie | Marketing & Email Tips for Writer-Creators | Tap for My FREE, Tribe 1K Email Masterclass: bookmechanicmedia.com/your-first-1000-subscribers/

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

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