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Upselling Vs. Cross-Selling (yes, they're different): How to Do Both At Your Gym or Fitness Business

Posted by Andy Miles on Oct 12, 2017 4:15:42 PM

The best methods of upselling and cross-selling at your gym or fitness business


At their core, both upselling and cross-selling are about providing your gym members and gym prospects information on relevant services, products, events, and more that in-turn provide value to both parties. Whether you’re looking to drum up new business, or engage with your current members, both upselling and cross-selling are vital to continuously growing the lifetime value of each member.

You may be asking yourself, “upselling AND cross-selling? I thought those were the same thing!” Well, if that’s what you’re thinking then you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not wrong. As terms, upselling and cross-selling are often used interchangeably, but they are definitely different and it’s in knowing these differences that will allow you to have a real strategy behind your gym’s upselling and cross-selling efforts.

As you read on, you’ll notice there’s some overlap in what’s needed to run effective upselling and cross-selling campaigns. Getting an upsell or cross-sell in front of the right member or prospect for the right reasons with the best offer at the right time and using the appropriate communication method can be challenging, but not with the right plan in place.

Said simply: In order to know who to upsell/cross-sell to you also have to know why, what, when, and how.

But first, let’s start with some definitions.

Upselling Vs. Cross-selling

Upselling can be used strategically to take someone from a lower plan to a higher plan or to buy something more expensive than the original offering. An example of this would be taking a prospect that’s signed up for a free or heavily discounted intro offer plan to a more expensive one. Upselling also doesn’t stop at prospects as it may be even more effective when applied to existing gym members or fitness studio clients.

We were going to write our own definition, but we like this one from BigCommerce more:
(Note: We made some changes so that it’s relevant to fitness businesses.)

“Cross-selling identifies products that satisfy additional, complementary needs that are unfulfilled by the original [service]. For example, a [discounted personal training session] could be cross-sold to a [prospect] purchasing [a new membership]. Oftentimes, cross-selling points users to [services or products] they would have purchased anyway.


And here are some even easier to undersatnd examples:

  • Upselling: ”You're not reaping the fitness rerwards that you could be. Here’s a discount on a more valuable membership.”
  • Cross-selling: “Because you like X you’ll probably like Y and it just so happens that Y is on sale today if you act quickly.”

Of course, we would never suggest using the above sentences to actually run an upsell or cross-sell campaign. Those are just to give your brain an easier way to remember how upselling and cross-selling differ. It’s up to you to decide how to use them.


The Many Benefits of Upselling and Cross-selling

Have you ever launched a new service, thought about one of your members it’d be perfect for, then decided to make it your life’s mission that the member never finds out about it? The answer is probably a resounding “no,” but if you’re not telling your members and prospects about services, classes, discounts, or specials that would be of interest to them, there’s a good chance that’s what’s happening.

Before starting or upgrading your upselling and cross-selling initiatives, it’s important to know who you can sell to. To make this as easy as possible, it’s important to separate, or “segment,” your members (the people that are currently paying you money) from your prospects (the people that are not paying you money).


Who to Upsell and Cross-sell

We’ll assume that even before reading this blog post you already had prospects and members organized into their own communication lists. That’s a great start, but it doesn’t really take anything into account aside from the person’s status as member or prospect. Should all members receive the exact same upsell or cross-sell every time? Probably not. Of course, there are times when you’ll find a certain offer works on a large portion of those that are offered it and we would never tell you to do anything to change that aside from trying to increase the response rate by testing and finding out what exactly makes it so successful.

The best thing you can do to better understand who to upsell/cross-sell is to gather as much information as possible about each prospect and member so that you can make informed decisions about what to upsell or cross-sell them.

How to upsell and cross-sell at your gym or fitness business

For example, if you’re working with a new prospect that’s signed up for an intro offer, you’ll want to find out some information about the prospect and their preferences so that you can make informed decisions regarding what you’re going to upsell them after the intro offer expires. Do they travel a lot? If so, that means they may not respond well to your most expensive “come in 365 days a year 24 hours a day” package since that would be overkill for their needs. Without trying to understand the prospect’s needs, it’s easy to think that all prospects will be interested in the exact same upsell/cross-sell offer which just isn’t going to be the case.

As for your current clients, they want to feel taken care of and part of the community you’ve created. If there’s a retreat or event planned, tell them about it. If they’ve taken personal training sessions, but haven’t in a while, they’re a great candidate for a personal training cross-sell or upsell depending upon the situation and as long as you entice them with the right offer (sometimes it’s as simple as reminding them it’s an option) and at the right time.

Cool, so you now have your two segmented lists that are both ripe for their own particular type of upselling and cross-selling. Now what? This is where the crossover we mentioned earlier starts to happen. In order to know who to upsell to, you have to know why you’re doing it.


Why Upsell/Cross-sell

A key to running successful upsell and cross-sell campaigns is asking yourself “why?” Why are you running these campaigns? Are you solely focused on generating more revenue for your business? Are you more interested in providing services that would give real value to the recipient? In our experience the best upsell/cross-sell campaigns require a little of both.

And if you’re afraid of potentially annoying your prospects or members, don’t be. If you’ve done your research and know what the targeted person would find of real value then you have nothing to worry about. Offer them services or products they’d most likely be willing to pay for, but haven’t thought to purchase or were even aware of. If done correctly, you’ll only ever be offering them upsells or cross-sells on things relevant to their needs and desires.

However, there isn’t necessarily a “correct” way to run an upsell/cross-sell campaign as success can only be defined by you. If there was one piece of advice we could give it would be to create a plan so that you at least know what upsell/cross-sell efforts are happening at any given time.

Another why when it comes to running upsell and cross-sell campaigns is that you can empower your sales staff. By giving each salesperson the ability to decide what service or package would most likely benefit the member or prospect they’re working with, you create a very organic way of allowing upselling/cross-selling to match the needs of the person being sold. This will in-turn make the member more loyal because their needs are being met and they’re being offered something of even more value.


When to Upsell

As we touched on in the section above, it’s important to know as much about the people you’re trying to sell as possible. This will be a lot easier with your current members as we assume you already have quite a bit of data on them.

If you’re working with upselling prospects, it’ll be a little more difficult collecting such data, though not impossible. The easiest method will be to ensure that whatever you use to get prospect data (ex. a form on your website, exit popups, etc.) collects the information you want. 

Note: It’s always a good idea to keep website forms at six fields or less, so you can’t ask someone to fill out a 20-question survey before they’ve even decided to become a prospect. To balance this, you can collect the minimum amount of information via your form and then fill in the blanks after you receive their information by calling or engaging them in person when they come in.

How to upsell and cross-sell at your gym or fitness business

If a prospect does end up taking advantage of an introductory offer, engaging them while they’re becoming familiar with your gym or fitness business is incredibly important. They’ve shown interest and life hasn’t yet had a chance to distract them. “How are you liking it? Can I answer any questions?” Once you ask your questions and collect the data, you’ll then know what the best upsell or cross-sell will be for that specific person. This takes your upselling/cross-selling efforts from “one size fits all” to bespoke.

If you don’t have a system in place that can help manage your upselling and cross-selling, you’ll need to handle it manually, which can become a full-time job very quickly.

Note: Not sure what to say when reaching out to prospects or members? Download our free e-book with 36 ready-to-use sales scripts written specifically for gyms and fitness businesses of all sizes.


What to Upsell

They say “timing is everything,” but in the world of upselling and cross-selling the what is equally as important as the when. If you’ve taken the time to build out or upgrade your gym business’s upselling/cross-selling techniques, but haven’t associated the “when” with the “what” then there’s a good chance opportunities are being lost because the right person is being sent the wrong thing.

If you’ve been following along with the Club OS blogs or ebooks (download some now), you’ve noticed we refer to the “buyer journey” from time to time. Think of the buyer journey as the path someone takes while going from stranger to prospect to member/client to evangelist for your business. The more evangelists you have, the more business you will generate. In addition to your evangelists being great sources of word-of-mouth marketing, they’re also more likely to spend money if you offer them something relevant and of value.

Remember: The buyer journey never ends. If they’re a prospect who’s taken a trial, they’re in a buyer journey. If they’ve been a member of your gym for 10-years, they’re in a buyer journey.

As for what to actually upsell/cross-sell, well, that’s for you to decide! Think about why you want to offer the recipient something and when the best time to offer it will be. Some of this information you will have before you ever run a campaign, other pieces of information will show themselves as you start to analyze the upsell/cross-sell campaigns you run.

How to upsell and cross-sell at your gym or fitness business

Be like Ron and know exactly what your recipient wants to hear.

How to Upsell

“Great stuff! I want to improve my upselling and cross-selling game. Now what?”

For the most part, we humans tend to be very skeptical of people when we feel they’re trying to sell us something. However, with targeted upselling and cross-selling, the entire point is to only offer the recipient something that will be of real value to them. This also means that you have to think about how to upsell/cross-sell in a manner that doesn’t scare the recipient off because it screams “BUY! BUY! BUY!”

How do you reach people to upsell or cross-sell them? However you want. Texting, phone calls, emails, smoke signals, messages in bottles thrown into faraway oceans - can all work, you just have to test to see what happens with each.

Regardless of how you choose to communicate, always remember to make the messaging personal. And if you’re wanting to upsell or cross-sell something that you know would have value to the recipient(s), but is hard to communicate that value quickly, try to think of ways to instill the value. For example, just think about how Apple makes their product videos. They don’t just show you the newest iPhone, no, they open them up and show you how all the magic happens and talk about how long their developers worked on it.


In conclusion, the real work on upselling and cross-selling has to be done by you, but once the foundation is in place (research, data collection, list segmentation, testing, etc) you’ll be able to effectively target both prospects and members so that, in the end, everyone benefits and no one feels like they’ve been tricked into buying something they don’t need.

For a system that can help you organize your upselling and cross-selling, we encourage you to check out Club OS. We're already helping 2,000+ gyms, health clubs, fitness businesses, and studios with their upsellings and cross-selling strategies.


Topics: Sales


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