The upsell is a tried and tested technique to offer your customers products or services of greater value than those they were first interested in. Assuming your business makes a straight percentage on every sale, the higher priced items you sell, the better it is for your profit figures.
What is Upselling?
Upselling is a sales technique where a seller invites the customer to consider/purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons to generate more revenue. It usually involves marketing more profitable services or products. However, it can also be simply presenting options to the customer that they did not consider before.
It’s always the same category and style of product or service, not a complimentary product – so if you work in a pet store, it’s not selling dog food and a dog leash together. It’s selling a bigger and better version of dog food.
9 Upselling techniques you can adopt right away!
Upselling techniques work by satisfying the needs of the customer completely – or exceeding them. Where a single scoop of ice cream may have been on the customer’s mind, a double scoop will definitely satisfy them.
Your business will most likely sell things that solve a problem for your customers, and to begin with, most customers will aim for the cheapest option that does what they need.
For example, if your customer is planning a trip from New York to London, they’ll book a seat on a flight, and that’s it. That seat could be in the center aisle, in between two people who occupy too much room, with the least comfortable cushion imaginable.
The upsell turns this into a first-class ticket with a recliner window seat, in-flight meal, glass of champagne, movies of their choice, and so on.
The result is the same – the customer gets on a plane in New York, flies for several hours, lands in London – but the experience is very different. The need was to travel from one place to another, and both ways ensured meeting this requirement. The latter made sure every expectation was met and exceeded.
Now, let us take a look at some upsell techniques you can use for your business:
1. Pitch a relevant upsell
You need to understand the type of upselling your customer would appreciate instead of just pushing any old upgrade at them. Many people make a mistake here. For instance, if a customer is looking to buy apples, try selling them sweeter and better quality apples instead of convincing them to buy oranges.
2. Provide consistent value
Most businesses assume that their job is over when the sale has happened. They think they only need to worry about that particular customer again when it’s time for a renewal or a possible upgrade.
It is wrong to assume that the customer will be ready to upgrade as soon as you ask them. The fact is – you need to nurture them, even after the sale. Send them newsletters giving them news about your company. It could contain product updates, events you are hosting, or even discounts that you have going. At the very least, a simple phone call once in a while can go a long way.
3. Identify the customers who have a need.
From the very start, use a tool that lets you understand the needs of your leads. You must know what they want to buy from you and if there is any way you can sell them a bigger and better version in the future.
Segment such leads into a list and consistently nurture them. This way, you can plan your targets better and set a timeline to pitch the update to them. In fact, acquiring new customers is more cumbersome than retaining old ones. Upselling to existing customers can help achieve your sales quota in a short time.
Learn how to upsell, cross-sell, and retain customers using automation.
4. Help. Don’t sell.
Always look to add value to the customer. Don’t just say – “buy a pro plan because it is better.” Instead, tell them how it is better for them or their business.
For example, say a person is struggling to meet his health goals. He is currently using your app to track his meals and daily steps. However, you also have a higher plan to give him a customized meal plan and monitor his progress. So, you have to tell him how this plan can help him meet his goals and make his lifestyle healthier.
[Also read: how to use consultative selling approach?]
5. Offer a discount.
Mostly, people do not buy a product because it is expensive.
So, try giving your customers coupon codes or a one time discount. Monetary incentives always work.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give your product for free. Determine a reasonable discount or club it together with another related service (for example, free shipping) to make it more appealing.
6. Create a feeling of urgency
Give your customers a time-bound offer. Tell them why availing it in this particular period could be beneficial. Remember to price them wisely and know which products are more likely to get them to purchase.
For example, say you sell an online music subscription with a free and paid version. You can offer a quick ‘Christmas offer’ where the prices are slashed only for a limited time. It may entice them to subscribe.
7. Check if your customers are happy before upselling
A happy customer equates to a flourishing business!
But no matter how hard you try, there will be times when the customer is not so happy with you. Look out for such signs and try to resolve them quickly.
Imagine being unhappy with a product or service, and instead of fixing it, they ask you to pay more for a higher version. In all likelihood, you would stop buying, or you may even spread negative word of mouth.
8. Convince them with real-life examples
Show them how people who have used the upgraded version could solve problems (similar to what your prospect is facing currently). Most of your leads would not take your words seriously. It’s your business, of course, you have only good things to say.
Instead, display the opinions of their peers who are also buying and using the same product/service as them. It will convince them better than anything you have to say.
9. Follow-up constantly
Remember that upselling is still selling. So, don’t let your customer go with just one small pitch. Keep nurturing and following up with them to push them into that upgrade.
Can you sell anything with upselling techniques?
Within reason, yes. The product you are upselling must match the original in the way it provides a solution to the customer’s problem, and the price increase must not be too much as to act as a deterrent if the improvement is not that great.
Let us take an example.
If you work in an industry selling car tires, your price for a set of 4 standard tires is $100. The upgraded version offers twice the grip and so is twice as safe, and therefore costs twice as much – $200.
Many customers will go for it, based on the perceived benefit – it is twice as safe. Others won’t because it is a drastic price increase. However, had the price for the better version been $150, more customers would have chosen the second option.
However, don’t forget that you can upsell the upsell. Maybe you have three levels of tires – the original at $100, the improved version (better grip in wet weather) at $150, and the double grip version at $200. You will probably sell more of the $150 and $200 tires in this situation.
Are upselling techniques ethical?
Yes, they are. It should never be your intent to deceive your customer or sell a product that doesn’t do what it claims to do. If you are satisfied being transparent with your customers and that your products and services are as good as they claim to be, there is no issue with offering upsells.
An upsell should always be better than or outperform the original goods or services. Otherwise, there will be no incentive for your customer to choose the upgraded option, and they will remain with their first choice.
If your customer can afford the cost and wants the best solution, they will choose the upsold items. If they can’t afford them or want the cheapest option, they won’t go for it.
Upselling works because people want the best.
When affordability isn’t a problem, the main objection to upselling is that it isn’t the cheapest option. However, people tend to pick the more reliable, better quality, or higher specification option when available. It is because they know that it will work better, last longer, or give a greater sense of prestige. The extra cost is worth it to the customer as they get the product or service they need.
Think of the automotive industry. When you buy a car, your primary requirement is to drive from one place to another. The upsell gives you options, such as air conditioning, a more powerful engine, or a different color.
None of these things are necessary but will make your drive safer, faster, or more enjoyable. Paying that little bit extra is worth it for the satisfaction it brings.
Upselling works in any industry as you are offering more than what the customer wants. They have already identified what they consider to be the solution to their problems. And you are providing a better solution than the one that already exists.
How can I upsell in my business?
Many businesses must be already using upselling techniques. Perhaps you provide a silver and gold service – you’re already doing it.
But if not, start looking at the products or services you sell and see how you can change it up. You might find that you need to go the other way, as what you have is already the gold package. Design a silver package to sell with the least resistance, and then upsell to the gold, as it may be easier than selling the gold from the very beginning.
Your upselling strategies should encompass solving the problem that your customer has. As the better you can solve their problems, the more likely they are to buy from you.