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Serve Your Customers Better with Up-selling, Down-selling and Cross-selling

up-sell, down-sell, cross-sell,

We’re never going to tell you to sell at the expense of serving your customers. So when we talk about up-selling, down-selling and cross-selling, we’re not talking about fancy sales techniques to increase your revenue by tricking your customers into spending more money. No, we’re talking about how you can serve your customers better by knowing how to up-sell, when to down-sell and why cross-selling adds value to your service calls.

Perhaps, the easiest way to define these sales terms is with a quick visit to McDonald’s for a Quarter Pounder hamburger. An up-sell would be offering you a Big Mac. If you’re looking for something cheaper, a down-sell would be suggesting a hamburger or cheeseburger. And cross-selling is something McDonald’s made famous with the phrase, “Would you like fries with that?” Let’s see how these three sales approaches work in a home services business.


As you’re describing the features of your best-selling furnace to a customer, if you notice that they really like how it uses less energy, you may be able to better serve this customer with an up-sell. Let them know you do sell a more energy-efficient model. Plenty of people today will pay more to use less energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Many customers are willing to pay for the best products and services for their home. So whether it’s a furnace, a water filtration system, or a hot water heater, don’t shy away from up-selling to the best product that you sell.


Now, it may happen that your customer is interested in the new furnace that you’ve recommended to solve their problem, but, suddenly, after you give them the total price, they want to back away from the deal. Down-selling is offering them a lower-priced model, but making clear what features are being lost.

Serving your customer’s best interest may require down-selling to a lower-cost alternative. You might say, “Okay, you do need a new furnace, but I understand you can’t buy one now. What we could do is repair part x and do some lubrication to see if we can get your furnace through this winter.”

upsell, downsell, crosssell

Down-selling allows you to serve your customers even when they are not able to afford the best solution.


People shopping on Amazon think nothing of it when Amazon tells them, “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and they list a few products related to the product they were looking at. Many customers will look at those products too and some will buy one or more of them. People are conditioned for cross-selling. It’s about adding value to their purchase.

While selling a new furnace, you might recommend an air purification system. If you have found that your customers often replace their water heater a year after their furnace, you can say to your customer, “I noticed that your water heater is about the same age as your old furnace. Would you be interested in knowing what options we have for replacing your water heater?”

Cross-selling could also be offering to sell them an extended warranty on their new furnace, or letting them know that now would be a good time to get their ducts cleaned and/or carpets cleaned.


Now, more than ever, homeowners want to invest in their homes to be as safe and as comfortable as possible. You’ll serve the best interests of your customers by knowing how to up-sell, when to down-sell, and why cross-selling adds value to your service call.

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