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Cross Selling Techniques for Every Kind of Freelancer

When you’re a freelancer, you gain a few new titles in addition to the one you use to introduce yourself at uncomfortable networking parties. You’re not just a “freelance copywriter,” you’re also the head of marketing, president of sales, and number one coffee gopher.

Your services aren’t going anywhere unless you can market yourself, and your income isn’t going to get any higher if you can’t sell those services, right? If you can manage to become an expert in sales (honestly, expert status isn’t even necessary; you’ve just got to get a handle on things), you’ll find that you’re making more money than you thought possible… and you don’t have to feel like a sleazy used car salesman in an avocado green leisure suit to do it.

Upselling! Cross selling! What… selling?

Ah, freelancing! It’s a beautiful world full of freedom, pajama pants… and confusing buzzwords that you just have to nod knowingly about and look up when you get the chance. In this case, I’ll do the looking up for you so you can relax for a bit.

Cross selling and upselling are similar but not the same. They both, however, are equally important when you’re a freelancer. The folks over at Big Commerce do a great job of discerning between the two:

“Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question, while cross selling invites customers to buy related or complementary items. Though often used interchangeably, both offer distinct benefits and can be effective in tandem.”

I’m going to fight the urge to compare this idea to french fries in the drive-thru, and instead use our good buddy in the avocado leisure suit to help us understand this difference just a little better.

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new car, and you’ve headed over to Fast Freddie’s Fantastic Automobiles to get your new wheels.

If you pick out a car and Fast Freddie tries to sell you a bigger, faster, more expensive one, that’s upselling.

If you pick out a car and Fast Freddie tries to sell you a sweet purple spoiler and a NOS system (What can I say? I’m in the mood to watch the Fast and the Furious, for some reason.), that’s cross selling.

Like I said before, neither one is better.

In both Upselling and Cross Selling, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Make sure your extra services are relevant.

When you’re trying to convince your clients to purchase more from you, it’s important to think specifically about that client, their needs, their company, and their brand. For example, a copywriter trying to seal a deal with a blog client can try to convince them to add website copy to their agreement. That’s a fantastic upselling technique if it makes sense for the client. Let’s say, however, that the client just spent thousands of dollars on a new website, and it’s clear that they paid for the new copy as well. Why waste your time trying to convince them to pay for something they don’t need? Perhaps adding a monthly progress phone call to your agreement would serve both of you better.

Keep a Few Things in Your Pocket

Why do people pay you for your services? Well, sure, we all know you’re good at what you do… but it’s also pretty likely that your clients simply have no idea how to do it. This means that they’re not familiar with your industry jargon, don’t understand unspoken implications, and will probably need some hand-holding.

Upselling and cross selling, especially with clients like this, needs to be minimal and specific, rather than broad and impressive. Showing your client every single option can quickly overwhelm them and jeopardize your chances of getting more work.

Move Your Upselling Techniques to the Proposal

One way to upsell or cross sell gently is to simply add your extra options to you proposal. Try using a phrase like:

“These services are limited to design and development. Client can choose to add SEO to the monthly agreement for X dollars by checking this box.”

Putting your upsell directly within the proposal allows your client to think about it in context with the original offer, and without the pressure of an immediate response.

Make Cross Selling a Collaboration

Not everyone is a jack of all trades. Partnering with other freelancers in a combined cross selling effort can score you more clients without forcing you to do work that you’re not confident in. A copywriter can partner with a web designer to create a complete branding package option. Clients will get a new website and brand-customized copy, all in one shot, while you and your collaborator get more work and more word-of-mouth advertising.

Provide Evidence

Clients aren’t likely to throw more money at you simply because you tell them they should. If you’re going to suggest a social media marketing plan, you have to provide data that proves they need one. Infographics, statistics, and real-life testimonials are all great ways to show clients how much your extra services are worth.

This also reinforces the importance of determining need when it comes to cross selling and upselling. It’s hard to find applicable data when clients don’t actually need that extra service.

Offer Three Options

One of the best upselling techniques you can use to ensure that you get paid what you need while also securing the chance of getting paid more than you thought you would is to offer your services in the form of three different options or packages: “bare minimum,” “just right,” and “holy buckets that’s a lot of money” might work, but you should play around with the package names so that they’re appealing and fit your brand.

Your minimum option will include only the basics, say (if you’re a writer), two blog posts per month with one revision each. The next option will need more, perhaps a monthly content strategy phone call. And, finally, the supreme option, the fine china, could add an extra revision period and SEO optimization. As long as these options are doable for you, you’ll be setting yourself up for success no matter which option a client chooses… and setting yourself up for big bucks if they choose the top shelf.

Remember That Your Clients are People (Unless they’re actually robots or something.)

As a freelancer, you know how much it hurts to pay for something you don’t really need. Remember that your clients are actual people with real needs, running a business just like you. Don’t pressure people into highly expensive, premium options when their budget can only afford your basic one. If you treat them with respect and compassion, they’ll be more likely to come back and get that premium option as their businesses grow.

Upselling techniques, when used responsibly and un-obnoxiously (get that avocado green leisure suit out of here, Fast Freddie!), have the potential to increase your income in a big way.

Why not give a few of these tips a try and see where they get you? I’m telling you, that sweet purple spoiler is calling your name.

Success!