Sales Coach Christine Harrington

McDonald’s Started it & Mastered it. What is Upselling & Cross-selling?

Jim from Columbus, OH writes in my “Talk to me” segment:

I sell insurance products. Can you give tips on cross-selling and upselling? Thanks!

The art of upselling was mastered by McDonald. They started the “would you like fries with that?” And SuperSize choices.

Upselling and cross-selling is the ‘cherry on top’ of selling. It’s often a good deal for both buyer and seller.

According to Forrester Research, upsells and cross-sells are on the average 10-30% of revenues. Look at your own book of business. What are your numbers for upselling your product line and cross-selling existing clients? You need to know this.

In this article, you’ll learn why this is important to business, and how to do it. I’ve included scripts too!

And thank you, Jim, for your important question!

What’s the Difference between Upselling & Cross-selling?

To clear up any confusion let’s first talk about the difference between upselling and cross-selling.


For the most part, upselling is getting the buyer to spend more money on the same product.

Let’s say you sell Life Insurance. The buyer is interested in a $250,000 Life insurance policy. After your analysis of the buyer’s financial assets, age and future living expenses that are needed for the buyer’s family should a sudden death occur, your recommendation is a $500,000. When the buyer purchases a face value of $500,000 that is an upsell.


After you deliver the $500,000 life insurance, a conversation begins with other areas you can help the buyer, such as the buyer’s home and auto insurance. When the buyer purchases more insurance products those products are considered cross-sells.

Here’s the dilemma

Should you focus on cross-selling or hand it off to an account manager or associate? My recommendation is if you’ve handled the relationship and pulled in your account manager or associate at the beginning of the process then let them handle the cross-sell so you can devote your attention on more new business.

However, if your account manager or associate does not have a relationship with the buyer, then you handle the cross-sell. Don’t hand off the buyer to an associate unless you’ve made the introductions, the buyer has met the associate or at the very least, had several conversations with the buyer. There’s nothing worse than being handed off to a stranger once a sale has been made.

Set the Stage

Top salespeople know their numbers down to the very last sale. Cross-selling, upselling at the time of the sale or at renewal, or after implementation should always be a part of your business plan. But don’t wait until the renewal or after the sale to plant the seed with the buyer. It should be a part of the sales conversation in the very beginning just like the referral conversation.

The Script

Mr. Buyer, when the time is right, I’d like to recommend an analysis of all your insurance products. You’ll be introduced to __________ my associate. Often times when an insurance firm handles all your insurance needs you could realize additional savings. Once we have processed and delivered your new insurance product, we can have that converation. Fair enough?

The timing of the conversation is just as important as having the conversation. While selling one product, don’t overwhelm the buyer by also trying to sell other products unless they ask you about them. And even If they do ask before you’ve said the above script, then tell them you’re happy to talk more about other products. Then redirect the conversation to the initial sale. I’ve seen too often that the buyer becomes overwhelmed and the salesperson leaves the appointment with no sale! Lead the buyer in stages and share with the buyer the process. You can say something like this.

Thank you for asking. Let’s finish your choices with this product first. Then I can answer your questions about other needs you may have. As a matter of fact, I’d recommend that we do an insurance anaylsis. Does that help?

The Advantage

Bottom line: Upselling and cross-selling create loyal clients. That’s the advantage you can cultivate through a well thought out upselling and cross-selling strategy. You’ll be considered an expert in your field and transition you from being just another salesperson to a trusted advisor.


Does this sound like you?

  • You find yourself glancing around looking for answers because you’re in a sales slump and have no idea how to move forward.
  • Often, you experience difficulty in finding the right words to use when speaking to a prospect.
  • Your focus is challenged so you have difficulty completing tasks with weeks of unproductive selling.

The good news is, I can help.

Simply fill out the form below. In the message section, ask to schedule a 30-minute complimentary Introductory call. We can fix this and other pressing issues you need help with!

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