Could “Would you like some fries with that?” be the original example of a type of upselling? 

Probably not, but it’s one of the most memorable, and it teaches an important lesson: There’s always another buying opportunity available if you pay attention to your customer’s purchases – they tell you what they need and value. 

Upselling is when you encourage a customer to add on services or purchase a more expensive (and better) product to increase their value. 

If you run a subscription-based business, for example, and someone wants to buy a basic package with five seats, and you know they will be hiring more employees, an upsell would be to persuade them to opt for the more expensive one with premium features and additional seats. 

While it’s one of the most important ways to improve your sales, upselling is also super easy to accomplish and fumble. 

‘But have you seen this product?’ An overview of upselling

Before you become an upselling whiz, you have to understand the types you can use to boost your marketing efforts and expand revenue at reduced costs from your existing customer base.

These are three types of upselling: 

👉 Upselling – Your customer wants to commit to the basic version, so you can increase revenue by offering the next best (faster, bigger, more flexible…) thing. 

👉 Cross-selling – This is when you persuade a buyer to purchase products or services that complement what they’re currently ready to purchase. So, not only would you offer fries with their burger order, but you’d offer a drink and dessert, too. 

👉 Next-selling – Do this by following up with a buyer after they purchase a product. For example, email them a 15% discount for their next item to increase the chances they’ll return. 

5 quality upselling tips that’ll boost profits and crush sales goals

Get this: Sales and motivation keynote speaker and the creator of the Sales Velocity Academy Victor Antonio says without an upselling strategy, your team misses up to 30% of sales. 

That’s no drop in the bucket. To bring that number as close to 0% as possible, check out these five upselling tips. 

1. Keep calm and don’t get carried away with prices

One sure way to lose an upsell opportunity? Offer a product that’ll make your customer’s head spin. It’s simple: If your upsell makes them balk, you’re doing it wrong. 

Unless you know your customer and their needs well, you typically don’t want to offer an upsell that exceeds 25% to 40% of the cost of their original item – i.e., don’t recommend an upgrade product that’ll take their final balance from $150 to $350. 

Upsells are a quick win for your customers, so it should feel that way to them, too. 

💡 The only exception to this rule is when it comes down to the perceived value of your products. If a customer buys a camera for $2,000 from you, an upsell of an additional lens worth $500 likely wouldn’t give them sticker shock. 

2. Do the extra work to get personal

A McDonald’s or Wendy’s cashier will offer everyone in line who ordered a combo the same upsell: “Would you like to get a large drink and fry instead for just $0.60 more?” 

upselling tips

It works for them like gangbusters, but offering the same blanket upsell to every customer won’t work for your B2B business. The key is to make customers feel like you created the offer just for them, so align your upsells to their values to show you pay attention to their needs – not just your revenue goals.

To personalize your offers, focus on the value your upsell can provide individual customers, and consider the products and features they’ve proven to like

But don’t just take my word for it: According to Personalization Pulse Check, an Accenture Interactive survey, personalizing your upsells is the right way to please and reach customers:

  • 58% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when a retailer recommends options for them based on their past purchases or preferences.
  • 65% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer in-store or online that knows their purchase history.

Remember – these same B2C buyers are also your B2B decision makers. So, make sure you’re creating a personalized experience for your buyers.

The personalization doesn’t stop at the offer, folks. As you pitch it to the customer, don’t just highlight the features and how cool the product is. Instead, focus your talking points around the answers to these questions

❓How can this upsell improve their business or workflow?

❓What kind of problems can this upsell help them solve?

❓What are their current needs and what do they foresee as future needs?

❓How do their past purchases affect their future needs?

The more insight into their needs, the easier it is to convince your customers of the value of the upsell.

3. Create customer segments

This upselling tip gives you a simple way to ensure you offer the right upsells to the right customers: good ‘ol segmentation. 

customer selling tips

Each customer is unique, yes – but it’s likely there are quite a few who are unique in the same ways, which means you can group them together in segments based on relevant customer personas

What does that look like? 

Let’s say your B2B business offers a subscription-based product with four tiers based on your customer’s needs and company size – to offer the right upsells to each type of customer, you could create segments for various user sizes.

Whether you base them on behavioral data like Netflix – what do you think that 95% match is all about? – interests or purchasing decisions, breaking customers up into segments is one of the best ways to target your upselling to appeal directly to them.

4. Upsell the right (read: relevant) products 

To make customers care about the bigger, stronger, faster, better version of the product they’re checking out, it needs to be relevant. That means the products you offer as upsells should be the most sold or reviewed – not something that looks like you’re just trying to get rid of it.

Whether you offer customization, a version upgrade, product protection, an extended service period, or a bundle, the upsell product should add value and improve your customer’s life. 

🔑 If it can do that, they won’t mind spending a few extra bucks for better quality. 

As you decide which products are upsell-worthy, focus on the ones that are relevant in two ways:

  1. Most sold. Sales volume is the raw data that proves your most purchased products satisfy customers’ needs. Because of this, you know this product is worth the investment, making it a great candidate to push it as often as you can. 
  2. Most reviewed. Reviews count as social proof, which both convinces potential customers of the value of your product and increases conversions. Because your most reviewed products show they helped customers improve critical metrics like revenue, productivity, or ROI, you can easily use this social proof to prime them to expand their budget. 

5. Bundle your upsell offers

This upselling tip is a mix between upselling and cross-selling, where you offer a bundle instead of another product – think: BOGO deals. 

The benefit? Bundles of useful products entice people to spend more money because they want to snag the valuable deal that offers more bang for their buck. Plus, who doesn’t love the savings of these upsells?

You’re probably most familiar with the bundle deals you see at the grocery store, but it can increase purchase value for any business model – all you’re doing is packaging related items or those that customers frequently use together and positioning it as a better-together offer. 

For example, Adobe does it with its design applications by offering large discounts when you purchase more than one, WordPress offers bundle upsells on plugins, hosting, and templates and HubSpot offers a bundle of web traffic generation and lead management features. 

It’s a bonus that all the big guns use this strategy, but the reality is it just works. 

💡 Pro-tip: To create a sense of urgency around bundles, offer the promotion for a limited time.

Upselling is the key that can unlock the full potential of your revenue, dive even deeper into this strategy with one of our latest webinars, Upselling: The Why, The When, & The How.

upselling tips