The “one night stand” approach to sales

Sep 1, 2021

Yesterday I wrote about how to upsell and cross-sell from a place of service…

And not as if the initial sales transaction was a “one night stand” where you tried to milk as much sales out of that first interaction as possible…potentially poisoning the customer relationship from the start.

(If you missed it, you can read it here and leave a comment…)

Now, I know there’s lots of data that shows putting multiple upsell offers in front of a first-time buyer leads to the higher AOV (average order value) most marketers need in order to scale their acquisition efforts and cover their initial marketing costs.

And don’t get me wrong…I strongly believe a few of the right upsell and cross-sell offers when done the right way are exactly what I mean by coming from “a place of service”…as well as being necessary for the bottom line.

But I also have personally seen things get way out of hand to the point that it potentially destroys any kind of long-term customer relationship…filling a new buyer with the one feeling you don’t want them to have during their first interaction with you: REGRET.

And I know a lot of other copywriters and marketers have the same concern…and are wondering how much is too much when it comes to building their funnels.

Let me share a reply to yesterday’s email that I got from one of your fellow Copy Insiders (who I’ll refer to as “JM”). He works for a supplement brand and is grappling with the same issue…

Our company, a supplement brand, has 6 upsell/cross-sells in our post-purchase funnel (most of which I write), but I always thought that many would just annoy our prospects. It would annoy me! The company is on the fence about it, but is planning to keep it pretty much the same for the foreseeable future.

Honestly, not much thought, energy, or time is put into these upsell/cross-sells. I always thought we should do just a couple of them and put as much effort into them as our sales pages. That way, we could really connect with the prospect, build trust, and present reasons this different product or additional bottles will benefit them. I just started writing longer versions of these to see if they will convert better than the shorter ones that everyone’s been used to writing.

So, just wondering if you feel that shorter or longer versions convert better in general?

To answer JM’s question about the length of the upsell/cross-sell pages in their post-purchase funnel, I would go with similar length (and format) as the original sales page/promo for the upsell if introducing a new product.

That’s for two reasons: 1) they initially responded to that length and format, so it’s a safer bet to use it to introduce a new product, plus 2) it allows you the space to explain it and make your sales arguments for buying it (unless it’s a fairly obvious add-on, like a multivitamin or something that doesn’t need much explaining).

But if it’s just selling more of what they just bought (i.e, buy 3 more bottles for just $xx), then you can obviously get away with a much shorter landing page. So I think it depends!

Here’s what’s so important to remember: in addition to building your funnel, think through beyond that initial sales interaction to the follow-up marketing opportunities and retention strategies that will ensure customers reorder from you. Obviously this is where a huge amount of your profit will come from, especially if you are selling a consumable product like supplements or skin care.

When I first launched the Healthy Directions supplement business a few decades ago, I was working within Phillips Publishing. And I’ll never forget being grilled by the company president, Bob King, as I presented our launch plans: “How are you going to get that second order? And the next one after that? And after that?”

It was the subscription renewal mentality…which unfortunately, in many of the supplement businesses I’ve worked with as a freelance copywriter in the years since, I’ve seen given short shrift, with little attention paid to it.

Yet just ask Jay Abraham (who we also consulted with when launching the Healthy Directions business, and who I later worked with on his own newsletter): the “hidden gold” in your business is in its back end!

(Meaning getting more sales out of people who’ve already bought from you…and NOT all within the same, first-time “one night stand” interaction!)

One must take into account that most people will buy only so much initially. However, there’s still a period of time when they’re considered a “hotline” buyer that you can get other offers in front of them…and it doesn’t have to be the immediate 5 or 10 minutes after the initial purchase.

Back in the pre-online marketing days (I’m talking early to mid-1990s), the first week or two people were considered “hotline buyers” and were more receptive to buying other related products or repeat buying, say, supplements. It’s one of the main ways I helped build the Healthy Directions supplement business to $23 million in sales (that’s $40 million in today’s dollars) in the first 3 years!
So I think JM, whose letter I shared with you, is onto something: focus on connecting and building trust, then put more offers in front of the prospect. Don’t try to do it all on the first “date”! (-;

Yours for smarter marketing,

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic…as I know we’re ingrained to think if we don’t get the prospect’s money all upfront, we’re not going to get it later.

What do you think is the ideal number of upsells and cross-sells to put in front of a first-time buyer?

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How many upsells are TOO many?