August 31, 2023
Devn Ratz

The Upsell vs. Cross-Sell: Restaurant Sales Tactics in The Digital Age

Upselling and cross-selling each encourage customers to order, spend, and engage more with your restaurant’s branded offers. These are all distinct, but related, phenomena in the sales process. As a simple starting example of outcomes, your customer may:

When you know how to upsell and the right cross-sales or upselling tactics, both upselling and cross-selling add sales volume, increase ordering averages, and improve customer experiences. For the most part, all these effects are under your control when both strategies—the upsell and cross-sell—rely on the skill of your staff and your restaurant menu design

Learn just how effective it can be to specifically train servers and optimize menus for more effective selling. Some restaurants see spikes in restaurant revenue by as much as 30 percent once they're clear on upselling vs. cross-selling differences. See how to compare and easily combine the upsell vs. cross-sell through modern technology integration covered in the post below.

Key Takeaway: When comparing the upsell vs. cross-sell, both prove to increase revenue, stir customer satisfaction, and maximize restaurant returns. 

Learn how Revolution Ordering can enhance your upsell vs. cross-sell opportunities through data intelligence in this\ free ebook download for your inbox.

Comparing The Upsell vs. Cross-Sell in Restaurants

Upselling and cross-selling are shown to enhance your customer’s experience of dining and being a custom loyalty program member. 

When a diner receives new information—tailored to their life, habits, interests, or preferences—based on a conversation with your staff, they feel invigorated to make the best choice for them. 

This is the charm of upselling and cross-selling techniques: relevance. Unlike other sales methods that demand constant pressure and promotion, the upsell and cross-sell are soft, subtle, and highly successful. 

Let’s compare what these techniques are, how they work, and how upselling or cross-selling can easily become part of your customer’s experience.

Restaurant Upselling Defined

For the most part, when your staff is “upselling” in your restaurant, they’ll be gently convincing customers to spend more on add-ons, upgrades, or premium ingredients. 

But, your menu itself may make these targeted, relevant recommendations too. Many restaurants now use restaurant automations and novel menu design ideas to increase the effectiveness of the optional upgrade. 

The result of effectively training your staff to upsell, upsell, upsell can be a 30 percent boost in restaurant earnings. Servers enjoy the extra boost to their pay as much as employers like the relative cost-reduction effect of bringing in more money against rising operating expenses, food prices, and the cost of labor.

Cross-Selling Comparison

Cross-selling activity among staff—and digital solutions too—looks similar to upselling, except that the cross-sell is not strictly an upgrade. 

Consider this example: a customer orders surf-and-turf, and the server recommends a dry, local wine… So, rather than offer the customer the option of even more surf-and-turf, the server suggests a new, complementary item consistent with their choice. 

This is cross-selling, and, not surprisingly, it turns out to be slightly less effective than upselling alone at increasing online ordering sales. This could be because the customer faces a new choice during the cross-sell through an additional item option, whereas upselling is more focused on choices “already made.

Still, cross-selling techniques are quickly improving with the advent of online ordering platforms and artificial intelligence restaurant tools with potent, personal suggestions. 

Implementing these tech solutions for more orders, averages, and loyalty can pay off, however, when restaurants choose highly flexible, data-driven online ordering.

Maximizing Upselling and Cross-Sell in Your Restaurant

When looking at the upsell vs. cross-sell, most restaurant owners notice three primary similarities: the positive impact on business gains, order values, and customer trust. 

Both strategies prove effective because they ask diners to consider their maximum fulfillment as the final say on the timeless question: What to eat? Yet–they are not equally effective in the same domain. If you are thinking of renovating your specific sales process, consider how their results and demands compare.

Financial Incentive for Upsell vs. Cross-Sell

If you use both upselling and cross-selling, your restaurant staff and menu will wield impressive sales potential. 

For example, adding more specific social skills, menu memorization, and rapport building training could drive up your total revenue by at least 10 percent—and up to 30 percent, in all. 

On the other hand, cross-selling techniques offer a sales increase of up to 20 percent by most standard studies. It’s nothing to scoff at, especially when you consider the possibility of using both tactics at the right moment. Beyond that, personalization already cross-sells at least one-fourth of most e-commerce revenue. 

If your integrated ordering system isn’t making note of personal opportunities to cross-sell your customers automatically, revenue is basically running away.

Operative Ease of Upsell vs. Cross-Sell Tactics

The most successful upselling and cross-selling strategies house themselves in solid restaurant staff training and smart technology integration

As your lessons shape staff's skill in spotting low-hanging sales opportunities, their natural talents of rapport will gently and generously increase purchases. While your servers suggest personal favorites, palatable advice, and add-on options, technology can take up the reins of cross-selling to off-premise restaurant customers

Tools like Revolution Ordering connect to POS systems to gather helpful restaurant data intelligence through customer data and order histories. Such technology speeds and streamlines your path to sales excellence as it marshals every relevant item into a targeted online ordering moment. 

See upselling and cross-selling in action through restaurant technology with the intelligence automations and integrations to personalize, promote, and sell.

Frequently Asked Questions About Upselling vs. Cross-Selling

Discover whether the upsell vs. cross-sell is right for your food brand. Explore some of these deep-thinking questions about simple-but-powerful restaurant ordering sales techniques

If you want to know how to possibly double your revenue, challenge your notion of upselling and cross-selling by leveraging each method where it earns most.

What is the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

The upsell vs. cross-sell are different only in their approach to the customer’s choice: the upsell upgrades; the cross-sell complements. 

Upselling demands that customers have made a choice upon which they can build, upgrade, or enhance with additional spending. Take the case of the customer who regularly orders a standard drip coffee. Now imagine them getting the barista’s recommendation to get a larger size, add specialty milk, or even sweeten it up with syrup. 

Cross-selling by contrast adds entirely new products to the situation of selling for better tips, satisfaction, and brand revenue. For instance, would your customer enjoy a side of garlic mashed potatoes or green beans almondine with that salmon filet?

Is upselling or cross-selling more beneficial for restaurants?

Upselling shines brighter in restaurants where a potent, personal touch can encourage spending, whereas cross-selling may be better for virtual restaurants that deal in data-rich strategy as a core model. 

To compare the perk of upselling to cross-selling is a little like contrasting the difference between talking to a friend who works in a restaurant and talking to a restaurant’s ordering system. Look at upselling this way: if you add butter, truffle oil, or expensive, exotic aioli to your fry order based on your friend’s recommendation, you probably trust they want the best experience for you. 

Conversely, a restaurant ordering system remembers all your orders, your birthday, and your preference for sweet-and-salty snacks around 11 p.m. on weekends. It’s an excellent cross-seller, but it shows these are different business benefits with distinct flavors for the customer experience.

What are the four stages of effective upselling in restaurants?

Upselling demands that you listen to your customer’s choices, interests, and preferences to influence and elevate their purchasing direction. Four steps can help you understand and intuitively grasp the upselling process for restaurants:

  1. Seal in the customer’s decision on the item or dish.
  2. Introduce a relevant add-on based on the customer’s order.
  3. Quickly and clearly explain the value of the additional upgrade.
  4. Excite your customer with mention of soon-to-be experiences. 

These four stages will help ensure that every add-on decision by a customer doesn’t turn to sour regret, or remorse. Instead, you should prep and condition your customers to enjoy the process of experimenting with your offers. 

To learn more about streamlining and increasing your online sales, you can explore our free guides and downloadable resources on every aspect of running an enterprise restaurant.