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. 

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

1. 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

The key to upselling 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

The personalization doesn’t stop at the offer. 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. 

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

upselling tips

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.

Segmenting your customers can be a powerful tool for upselling because it allows you to tailor your offers to specific groups of customers based on their unique characteristics and needs. By understanding the different types of customers you have, you can create targeted upsells that are more likely to be relevant and appealing to them.

For example, let’s say you have a subscription-based product that offers four different tiers based on the size of the customer’s company and their needs. You could create segments for different types of companies based on size, industry, location, or any other relevant factors. By understanding the specific needs and challenges of each customer segment, you can create upsells that address those specific needs and offer additional value to those customers.

Segmentation can also be based on behavioral data, such as how often a customer uses your product or what types of products they have purchased in the past. By understanding the habits and preferences of your customers, you can create upsells that are more likely to be of interest to them.

In short, segmenting your customers can help you create more targeted and relevant upsells, increasing the chances of success and customer satisfaction.

4. Upsell the right 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. Your most reviewed products show they helped customers improve critical metrics like revenue, productivity, or ROI, so 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.

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. 

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.

6. Use social proof to increase the perceived value of your upsells

Social proof is a powerful influence on consumer behavior, and it can be especially useful when it comes to upselling. By highlighting the popularity or success of your upsells, you can increase their perceived value in the eyes of your customers.

upselling tips

For example, if you have a large number of satisfied customers who have purchased a particular upsell, consider displaying customer reviews or testimonials on your website or sales pages.

This can help to build trust and credibility with potential customers and increase the likelihood that they will consider your upsell.

Another way to use social proof to increase the perceived value of your upsells is to highlight the popularity of certain products or features.

💡 Pro-tip:  You could display statistics on how many customers have purchased a particular upsell, or mention that a particular feature is the most popular among your customers. This can help to create a sense of demand and increase the perceived value of your upsells.

7. Use scarcity and urgency to create a sense of FOMO

Scarcity and urgency are powerful psychological triggers that can be used to increase the perceived value of your upsells and encourage customers to make a purchase. By creating a sense of scarcity or urgency around your upsells, you can create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in your customers and increase the chances that they will make a purchase.

For example, you could use limited time offers or limited availability to create a sense of urgency around your upsells. You could also use countdown timers or display the number of remaining items to create a sense of scarcity.

This can help to create a sense of urgency in your customers and encourage them to act quickly to avoid missing out on the opportunity to purchase your upsells.

In summary, using social proof, scarcity, and urgency can be effective strategies for increasing the perceived value of your upsells and encouraging customers to make a purchase.

By highlighting the popularity or success of your upsells, creating a sense of scarcity or urgency, and using other psychological triggers, you can increase the chances of success with your upselling efforts.

8. Turn your sales team into upselling pros

Upselling is all about convincing customers to buy more, and who better to do that than a sales team that’s been trained in the art of persuasion? By investing in training and development for your team, you’ll be setting them up for success and boosting your bottom line.

Here are a few key areas to focus on when training your team to upsell like pros:

💡 Identifying the customers most likely to bite on an upsell. This means understanding their needs and past purchasing habits, and tailoring your pitch accordingly.

💡 Knowing the ins and outs of your upsells. Your team should be able to clearly communicate the value and benefits of each upsell to customers, so they understand why it’s worth the extra investment.

💡 Using the right sales techniques. This includes asking questions to understand customer needs, using social proof to increase the perceived value of your upsells, and handling objections with ease.

💡 Overcoming objections. Whether it’s price concerns or uncertainty about the value of the upsell, your team should be prepared to address any objections that come their way.

With a sales team that’s been trained to upsell like pros, you’ll be well on your way to boosting profits and crushing sales goals.

Wrapping up

Upselling is a powerful tool for increasing profits and crushing sales goals, but it’s important to do it right. By following these tips, you can effectively upsell to your customers and provide them with additional value and benefits while increasing your bottom line.

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