How to Sell Better: The Art of Upselling

Learn about how to sell better to your existing customers by using upselling strategies


Increasing sales is the goal of any business. Be it the vegetable vendor in your vicinity or Amazon, the biggest e-commerce. It does not matter how small or big a business is, their aim is always to sell more. Attaining more customers is one of the no-brainer ways of increasing your sales. Can you make more money with the same existing customers that you have? Yes, if you know how to cross-sell or upsell your products to them. Let us have a look at how upselling works.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a sales technique used to offer an upgraded and premium form of the current product that a consumer is buying. The product that is sold in upselling usually has more features or is bigger than the existing one. That is why it usually is also at a higher price point. Upselling is a great way to increase sales as well as conversion rate.

The pizza you order in Dominoes is available in three sizes usually – small, medium, and large. It is the same product but in an upgraded size. If the seller here manages to sell you a large pizza instead of a small one, he is upselling, even when you are sold an iPhone 12 pro instead of an iPhone 12. The upgraded or premium version is an upselling technique.

What are the benefits of upselling?

Sales techniques are not about deceiving customers but a way of enhancing their shopping experience with your business. It is about exceeding their expectations and providing value for money. Read below to know why you should use upselling strategies in your business –

Helps in building a deeper relationship with customers

The sales department of any business has an opportunity to create a relationship with the customers. The deeper the bond they build, the more likely it is that the customer will come back for more. When you are offering an upgraded or premium version of the product/service that a customer is looking for, you are exceeding their expectations. This builds a sense of trust amongst the customers as they are being offered even better products than what they came looking for.

‘‘

Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.

- Brian Tracy

Boosts Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The overall contribution that a customer makes in your net profit is known as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Most people swear by specific brands and only prefer using those products like Zara for clothing, Honda for cars, iPhones for their smartphones, Maggi for noodles. The CLV of such customers is quite high towards these brands.

Upselling your products usually also increases the CLV as the product is more expensive than the one the customer was buying previously. Also, upselling a product does not involve any extra investment. This makes the overall process quite cost-effective.

It is comparatively easier than acquiring new customers

Getting new customers is an expensive and time-consuming process. It requires a business to constantly keep proving they are better than their competitors. A more effective way to optimise how you sell is through cross-selling to existing customers. If existing customers are coming back then they definitely like your products/services. Offering them an upgrade on those is definitely worth giving a shot. You have almost a 70% chance of upselling to an existing product. However, to a stranger, the chances are slim to none.

How can you go about upselling your products/services?

Upselling a product can seem daunting if you are a beginner. As selling a product in itself is a challenge, upselling it may feel overwhelming. You can harness your upselling skills by practising certain techniques and strategies like:

Give the right upgrade to upsell

When you are offering an upgrade to the existing product that the customer is purchasing, ensure that you choose the perfect one. An upgrade should be bigger, better, stronger, basically more advanced in any manner. Ensure that you are fulfilling your customer’s expectations. Trying to sell an odd upgrade can cause trust issues with the buyers.

Don’t be pushy or needy

While upselling any product, timing is everything. You do not want to annoy the customers by being too pushy or needy. It can irritate them and then the chances of selling anything reduces significantly. When you are providing an upselling option, you need to ensure that you are not being too cocky. The last thing you want is to lose a customer.

Always attempt to upsell

Upselling may seem daunting, but be confident and always at least give it a try. The more you attempt to offer an upsell, the more likely more customers will buy those. The customer may or may not know that an upgrade or advanced version of the existing product is available. Also, they may not know what difference the upgraded product makes. To give them this information is your job.

Ensure the upsell is relevant to the current purchase

Upselling is all about having relevant and updated information. This comes even handier when you are selling technology products. If a person with a budget is asking you for an android phone. It does not make sense to offer them an iPhone. Here even though there is an attempt to upsell, it is irrelevant to what the customer needs.

Have a personal touch

There is cut-throat competition in any business nowadays. Providing a personalised touch to customers gives you an edge over the rest of your competition. A customer is any day more likely to buy an upselling product from an employee who is well aware of their purchase history or knows their personal preferences. In our daily lives also, we see that we usually have the same grocery store, plumber, carpenter or electrician. We might know someone who offers a cheaper service but we still prefer the same people because of the prior well-established trust.

Create a sense of urgency

As humans, we do always have a fear of missing out. A customer is more likely to buy a product that you are upselling when he knows that it is available for a limited time or in limited quantities. This attracts the customer to that product even more than he usually would be.

Offer Free Shipping

How many times have you scrolled a shopping website to add more products just to avoid those shipping charges? Most people have been guilty of doing that. As a business, this works great in your favour. If the product you are upselling offers free shipping, the customer would feel more compelled to purchase it. If a packet of Maggie costs additional shipping along with it, offer them a bundle of 4 or maybe 6 with free shipping. In such cases, a customer is likely to buy the bundle as free shipping seems a cost-effective option. 

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If you are not moving closer to what you want in sales (or in life), you probably aren’t doing enough asking

- Jack Canfield

Use the rule of three to your advantage

In marketing and sales, the rule of three is a well-known technique. It has been observed that when a customer is offered three types of the same product for example at McDonald’s you get the small, medium, and large fries. Most customers will end up choosing the middle option like the medium fries as they would feel it offers the most value for money.

Offer rewards that induce the purchase

A customer is more likely to consider an upgraded product if there are rewards associated with it. Offering rewards on the premium versions of products will compel customers to buy it. Give rewards like cashbacks, exchange, discount, or even a coupon for future purchases. These rewards attract customer’s attention and increase the chances of them buying the product that you are upselling.

Create a membership programme

Membership and loyalty programmes are a powerful marketing strategy. It increases customer’s loyalty and overall customer retention. You can upsell through these membership programmes by offering a gift or a huge discount for members only on the premier products. Various websites offer bonuses on signing up, compelling a customer to purchase more from them.

Use follow-up Emails

Email marketing is a subtle way of selling your products out there. It also has a huge reach. You can send emails to your customers about the product that you are upselling. Add an incentive like a discount increasing the chances of purchase even further. Follow-up emails also help in notifying the customers that the product you are upselling is on-sale or only a few are left in stock. Emails act as a reminder that increases the chances of purchase.

Offer product comparisons that trigger sales

The customers are a well-informed community. Most of them will conduct their research and do comparisons before settling on a product. You can use this product comparison tendency for upselling. Show why buying the better version is worth it by highlighting the better features available.

Upselling is a great opportunity to experiment with your current customers. If done correctly, it will also increase the customer experience along with boosting sales. It is a skill to master just like several other sales strategies and processes out there. Read our article on ‘B2C sales process’ to find further insights on selling.

Tanisha Achrekar
Tanisha Achrekar
Tanisha is a Business Writer at Dutch Uncles, she writes on personal finance, management and financial concepts. Her stint includes JP Morgan and Media.net

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