Upselling and cross-selling: tips and tricks

Alex Davies-Parmenter
Product Marketing at Timely
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Upselling. To some people, the word sounds like opportunity and salon profit. To others, it sounds like hard work and awkward hassle. Becoming the master of the upsell (and cross-sell) is all about making sure you’ve got the right tools and education in place.

Too often, upselling opportunities knock and we don’t hear them. Every stage of consumer interaction is full of opportunities to upsell, but it’s about identifying these opportunities and approaching them creatively.

As a salon owner or a manager, you may not be always be hands-on with clients. So how do we encourage our staff to maximise these opportunities?

Why should you be upselling?

As a business owner, you probably know why upselling is great for business. But are you helping your staff to understand why you care about it so much?

The best way is to show your staff how it will benefit them.


Your staff already know why up selling is important – if your business runs on the usual salon/spa model, they get commission for each service and product their client purchases. So obviously, the more they upsell, the more they make. It’s a no-brainer, right?

For a lot of people the concept of ‘sell more, make more’ isn’t the problem: it’s the scale. Why try to persuade your client to upgrade to a service that’s $10 more, if you’re only going to see $5 of that? Your staff might be falling in the trap of only putting in the effort for larger upsells.

Remind them that the little sales add up over time. Better yet, show them: pull up your product sales report by staff and show them the total amount they’ve sold over the last 6 or 12 months. Seeing the total number might just encourage them to keep working those upsells and cross-sells.


Another benefit of upselling: it makes your clients trust you more. Strange but true!

When you take the time to educate your client, it confirms your position as the expert. And if your client leaves happy with their choice to upgrade a service or purchase a product, they’re more likely to come back to you. They took a leap in trusting you, and it paid off – that creates an actual chemical buzz (like a mini high!), and a stronger relationship.

When you take the time to educate your client, it confirms your position as the expert. And if your client leaves happy with their choice to upgrade a service or purchase a product, they’re more likely to come back to you.

It’s important, however, that your staff are passionate about the products and services on offer too. Encourage your staff to share their voice on the products and services that you provide. If a staff member loves eco-friendly products, why not consider stocking these if they’re the right fit for your salon? Have a brow expert in your midst? Empower them to take charge of that aspect of the business.

You’re staff are much more likely to recommend products and services that they themselves believe in (and are enthusiastic about).

The do’s and don’ts of upselling

You and your staff want to come across as the salon experts that you truly are; make sure that you’re only up-selling when it’s appropriate and when it will benefit your client.

Does this complement your client’s service?

Upsells and cross-sells are only successful when they’re relevant to the original purchase. You want the client to feel as though they’ve come away with what they were hoping for AND more.

Does this benefit your client?

Make sure that the product you’re trying to sell with really benefit your client. If you’re recommending retail products and add-ons that are suitable and helpful for your client, then they will learn to trust your judgement.

However if you’re obviously just trying to flick-off the end of line stock, your client will be put off.

Are they comfortable with spending more?

The last thing you want to do is to make your client feel uncomfortable. If your customer has made it clear that they’re on a budget, or that they’re only after the one product or service, or are in a hurry, then don’t force anything on them. Read the room!

In this instance, talk about the products you’re using, or suggest products they should consider using if they’re hoping to maintain ‘at-home’ looks and styles.

How to upsell at each stage of the appointment

Part of successful upselling is identifying the right moment. There are opportunities at each stage of the client’s visit – knowing how to recognise them is half the battle!

Upselling products or services at a salon can take place at any stage of the visit.

1. Booking

If the client enquires about a treatment, always start with the deluxe option and work down to a more basic one, not vice-versa. This way, you’re able to show off all of the treatments available to the client, and then rule out what they’re primarily looking for.


If your client has booked a basic service, offer them the chance to upgrade to the deluxe option now. Just make sure you check the stylist’s upcoming appointments first. You don’t want to accidentally overlap into the next booking!

Waiting area

The time your clients spend waiting for their service is a perfect chance to expose them to what you offer. Service menus and product samples should be on display for your clients to use. If a client can see, smell, and feel a product, they’re much more likely to take something home.


The consult is the best chance for your staff to get to know their client – and the perfect chance to discern someone’s pain points.

If your client is struggling to manage their curly locks, that’s the perfect time to bring up your favourite curl-boosting products. Or is your client heading away for a holiday in the sun soon? Perhaps you can ask them if they’re happy with their current sun protectant.

Taking notes is also vital at this stage. Update the client’s record to say that they’re on holiday in June, or that they tend to struggle with limp hair. This makes it easy to follow up with the client, or to recommend a relevant treatment next time they’re in.

Remembering client histories is important for building relationships, but make it easy for yourself by taking notes.


If you’re not the one checking the client out, be sure your client notes are synced to the front desk. That way they don’t offer the same upsell that’s already been accepted or rejected.

Recommending products and services is like planting a seed.

Keep notes on what products a client has bought from you and ask them how they are getting on with them, or whether they’re running out or not. This may be your chance to make one more sale!

Your work may not come to fruition immediately.

Your client may need time to go away and think about a supplementary service or product, but this work may pay off later down the line.

How to get your team on board

Now that you’ve explained to your staff why upselling is important, and given them tips on how to do it, you have to make sure you’re giving them the right tools. If upselling puts a big wrench in your staff member’s day, you’ll probably find they won’t put much effort in.

The easier the process, the more likely you’ll find your staff (and yourself) doing it.

Equip your staff

Make sure your salon software has the ability to store client notes, and that these notes are visible to all staff. A client’s favourite products, at-home ills, family events or holiday plans should be documented. This not only creates a stronger relationship between staff and client, but it also provides staff opportunities to upsell.

How easy is it for your staff to handle the extra services or products at POS? The last thing you want is to have your client stand there waiting while your staff struggle to change the price.

We just added a new feature to Timely to cut down on time spent invoicing your upsells – check our walk-ins feature for the details.

Keep an eye on stock levels

Make sure your stock is clearly tracked, and that your staff are able to get alerts when a product is low. Accurate stock count ensures you don’t get caught wrong-footed, upselling a product that you don’t even have.

Make it a game

Sometimes staff need a little more motivation, or a fun incentive to try to upsell. Why not create a bit of in-salon competition?

A friendly, low-stakes competition turns a chore into a game.

Loxy’s Boutique in Wellington have a cool little game going on in their back room: Snakes and Ladders. If a stylist sells product, they move up (or down) the board. Whoever finishes first wins! It’s an easy way to get people a little more excited about upselling, without making them feel too pressured.

The most important thing to remember when upselling is to always provide value. Yes, encouraging clients to upsell is beneficial for business, but you must be sure that what you’re offering is advantageous for your client if you want them to return.

After all, the best way to upsell is to educate your clients and build the trust. Then they can make the choice to upgrade the service or buy a product, with nary a pitch from yourself. If you’ve put in the groundwork, it will start happening!

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