If you’ve ever heard of McDonald’s, you know the longest running joke surrounding the fast food chain is ‘do you want fries with that?’ As RepricerExpress will show you, that simple query is marketing genius on the part of McDonald’s, involving one of two techniques we’ll be writing about today: upselling and cross-selling.

Selling: Going After the Entire Pie

Think of anything you’ve ever bought in your life, whether it was life insurance, a smartphone, snow-clearing services or a puppy. In how many of those instances did you buy only the product or service, and nothing else? We’re betting hardly ever, as life insurance tends to be associated with medical insurance; smartphones come with protective cases, earbuds and warranties; snow-clearing has warmer weather equivalents, like gutter-cleaning; and puppies need food, beds, leashes and toys.

Still using these examples, in how many cases — excepting food for the puppy — were the extra things absolutely necessary? Did you really need that fancy hard shell case for your iPhone, or was it a case of getting caught up in the magic of being upsold?

As a merchant, you need to be doing the same every chance you get. Any time you fail to highlight other products, you lose out on just that much more income. And it’s not income that’ll just remain floating in the ethers — your competitors will come along and scoop it up.

Upselling: Reach for the Sky

To upsell online, all you have to do is present the buyer with options of the grass being greener on the other side. If they’re looking at iPods, show them that if they spend just a wee bit more, they’ll get a larger screen and/or more memory. You always want to be pointing out the benefits of something, no matter how seemingly insignificant the item is.

But it’s not just as simple as showing the fancier option and waiting for the consumer to click in. You have to alter your language, tone and message, and even work on tweaking things like picture placement and colour scheme. The thing you want to remember is that when a person opts for the more expensive version, it’s partly because they want the added options, but also because they want the cachet of prestige and being able to afford a bit of extra luxury. Appeal to that sense by using more sophisticated language and attention-grabbing imagery/colours.

Cross-Selling: Fleshing Out the Final Picture

There’s one easy way to remember the difference between the two ways of selling: upselling takes one product and presents a better version of it, while cross-selling keeps the original product and adds doodads and knick-knacks to it.

We can go back to our original example to really see how cross-selling works. Take the puppy we mentioned. You obviously have to get food for it, but apart from that, everything else is an optionality. A good merchant will suggest things like a retractable leash, ceramic food and water bowls, bones, chew toys, squeaky toys, brush, dog coat, dog bed and anything else that will let Fido live in the lap of luxury.

Are these items necessary? Not at all, but they do enhance the original purchase by providing more options. And not all examples will seem as blatant or gratuitous as the puppy, such as cross-selling batteries for mobile devices. A good way of enticing your customer is to bundle items and lower the overall cost of them, making it even more tantalising that they’ll say yes.

How to Know Which Method to Use

In some instances, you can cross-sell and upsell at the same time, such as with electronics or sports equipment. But sometimes, you’ll have to make a choice between the two: is it better to upsell, or cross-sell?

Generally speaking, if you have to choose between the two, we advise to upsell. When this technique is applied, it tends to result in increasing sales by 4%, compared with 0.2% for cross-selling. And remember, when you upsell, stick to the 25% rule of not increasing the price from one product to another by more than 25%. Doing so will slowly kill your chances of any sale.

At RepricerExpress, we’re all about exploring the ways you can make more money as a merchant, no matter how simple or complex the method may be. Upselling and cross-selling are both fantastic, but they require active participation on your end. Something that doesn’t, something that lets you sit back and relax while it works for you, is our repricing software. And when you sign up for your 15-day free trial today, you can start relaxing even sooner.