The Art of Upselling

Not everyone is cut out to be a salesman. Due to the fact that most of us hate when people try to sell us goods and services. To be successful at sales, you must master many techniques and methods. Sales requires patience, great listening, and the proper mindset. Those who become successful in this field, all have mastered the art of upselling.

Upselling is a technique where a seller (sales person) persuades the customer (you) to purchase a more expensive item, upgrade or other add-on in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. For example, when the guy at the movie theater says you can upgrade to the ridiculously expensive large popcorn for only twenty-three cents more, he is upselling.

The simple phrase that’s heard at every McDonald’s — “Would you like fries with that?” — is the definition of upselling.

It’s important to note that upselling is commonly confused with Cross-Selling. Cross-selling is a method of selling products that are different, but possibly related, to the product the customer already has (or is buying). If I’m buying a Samsung TV and the salesperson offers me a Gear VR or Soundbar, that’s a cross-sell.

How To Upsell

1. Wait for it

Wait until your customer has decided to purchase, then offer additional products. If you try to upsell an item before you close on the original item, you may scare off your customer.

2. Get information

If a customer is unsure of what they are looking for, take the opportunity to investigate the real benefit they’re after. Once you discover the desired benefit, be sure to offer them additional products and services they might not have thought of on their own, but that directly meet the needs or wants the customer is looking to fulfill.

3. Be reasonable

Consider your customer’s budget when making an upsell. As a general rule, upsold products should not increase the purchase total by more than 25 percent. Beyond that, the additional product may start to seem like a second major purchase instead of a supplement to the first.

4. Always add value

Perhaps most importantly: Don’t just upsell for the sake of profit or getting rid of unwanted inventory. Customers will see right through this tactic. For each upsell, have your selling points prepared. Get to know which products go well together and make a point to match well-suited items when upselling. If you can identify the perceived value in the upsell, your customers will be more likely to see it too.


An incentive to purchase more product at a greater value (The popcorn example we talked about earlier or, the free coffee refills you get when you buy a special cup at a convenience store.)A complimentary accessory to the main purchase (When you bought your last smartphone, did you also buy a case, screen protector or extra charger?)Peace of mind to protect the customer’s investment (Waterproofing spray for expensive boots, and service plans for expensive electronics like Apple Care.)Impulse buys conviently located near registers. (The batteries at the electronics store, socks at the shoe store, candy and magazines at the grocery store.)

Upselling is an art that ultimately should lead to more sales and profit. Whether it’s inside a store or in person, there’s a fine line between a good and bad upsell.

The Art of Upselling

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