Pro Cross-Selling Strategies for Organic Growth

By Josh Hoffman, Contributor, on February 14, 2018

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Whether we like it or not, sales are an important part of the indy game — and if we have to sell in order to be successful freelancers, we might as well understand how to maximize our earning potential from any given client through upselling and cross-selling strategies.

To upsell a client is to encourage them to purchase a more expensive offering of a product or service. Need an example? Well, let’s imagine — just for a second — that you’re a designer and you’re building a new website for one of your clients. If you have a tiered pricing model in place, you can try to encourage this client to choose the premium package, which may include the valuable add-on of logo design services.

Cross-selling, on the other hand, is “a technique that entices a customer to supplement his or her initial purchase with products that complement it.” This technique often comes into play when freelancers try to encourage their clients to invest in two of their products or services that are often purchased together. If, for example, you’re a copywriter, you could suggest that a potential client should use your services for both their website copy and their printed marketing materials.

Of course, a successful initiative will earn you a more profitable sale, but don’t forget to note the key focus here: Upselling and cross-selling should only be done when you truly believe the upgrades will be value-adds for the customer.

Here are three proven sales tactics I use to upsell and cross-sell to my clients:

1. The “In-Order-to” Statement

Often, freelancers become so consumed by their services, they fail to realize their services are simply the “means” to a client’s “end.” Include an “in order to” statement in all of your communications (both formal and informal) with current and prospective clients to clearly show how your services (the “means”) will help them accomplish their bottom-line goals (the “end”). An example of an “in order to” statement is:

I will provide a digital marketing strategy in order to generate additional exposure for the client and increase the client’s potential lifetime customer value.

When you make the conversation more about the “end” and less about the “means,” you’ll increase the value of your services in the minds of clients, which makes an upsell that much easier.

2. Start With Why, and Read Between the Lines

Often, clients don’t know what they really want (even when they think they do) which is why it’s important to always start by asking the most critical question: “Why?”

If a client approaches a freelance graphic designer because she wants a new logo, the designer should start by asking why she wants a new logo. A new logo is simply the “means” to the client’s “end,” which may be stronger brand recognition. Even if the client doesn’t explicitly indicate that she wants a stronger brand, it’s important to listen closely and read between the lines of the client’s answer when you ask them why they want what they think they want.

At this point, you can offer a better (and more profitable) solution to a client’s “why.” In the example above, a new logo on its own probably won’t be enough to help the client build a stronger brand. Assuming this is the ultimate goal, the designer can offer a suite of options, such as a new website — which, of course, will cost more money than a logo, resulting in a worthy cross-sell.

3. Stop Soliciting

Upselling and cross-selling strategies only work when clients knock on your door, not when you knock on theirs, because these strategies require leverage. The more leverage you can obtain, the easier and more profitable an upsell and cross-sell will be.

Instead of spending (or, wasting?) time writing cold emails and applying for random gigs on various freelance marketplaces, build a system that compels clients to come knocking on your door by:

  1. Adding a lead magnet to your website.
  2. Complementing the lead magnet with a basic content marketing strategy, like LinkedIn, that’ll drive people to the lead magnet.
  3. Adding an automated email series that automatically emails people every one or two weeks after they sign up for your lead magnet.

While sales isn’t necessarily the most exciting aspect of freelancing, these three tactics will make you feel better about the process — and ultimately land you more clients at the prices you want to charge.

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