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Selling Up! Top Techniques for Effective Upselling

written by: Fabian Toth•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 7/29/2011

Do you feel like your sales could use a boost in immediate ROI? Successful organizations know that upselling can bring tremendous value to the table. Learn what the best and most effective upsell techniques are, and see how you can incorporate them into your sales process.

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    Everybody is in Sales

    Sales make the world go around, and as any organization knows the sales segment is what feeds the growth and continuation of the company. As Zig Ziglar would say “Everybody is in sales." It is also well known that keeping existing clients is less expensive than getting new clients.

    Upselling is sometimes feared for loss of the initial sale, but that is the wrong approach to consider. If the product/service is really valuable then you are doing a great good by ensuring that the customers may use them to their maximum potential. By explaining the upsell correctly, the organization can come across as more knowledgeable and helpful.

    The bottom line will be that getting more business from clients you have, or are about to get, is one of the best ways to maximize ROI and even make the clients happier. Here are 10 points that will go a long way in increasing profits with clients.

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    1. Make the Attempt to Upsell

    Image From www.sxc.hu As with any sale, asking for the sale should be the first close technique. Once a client is set on purchasing by being at a specific point of sale, it is just as important to make the attempt to upsell. Customers won’t necessarily know or think about making additions to their current purchase. There must be a plan for the attempted upsell at some point during the course of the sale cycle; don’t leave it to chance.

    This should be built into a script on a call, or into the checkout process for online products. McDonald's learned that the simple addition of, "Would you like fries with that?" went a long way to increasing their bottom line. You should find a way to do the same.

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    2. The Assumptive Upsell Close

    By having a plan for the upsell, there is at least the surety that an attempt will be made. One of the first attempts should be the assumptive close sales technique: “What do you say we add in 12 months of service to make sure you take advantage of…"

    Be careful that at this point the attempt doesn’t sound like it’s automated, otherwise customers will give you an automated response: “No, thanks." It has to relate to their current purchase and somehow prequalified as it will bring added value to the sale. Assuming that the client will want more value will show through in the tone of the pitch and guide them down the path to "Yes!"

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    3. Reinforce the Original Sale, and Use that Emotion to Upsell

    Make customers feel good about a prior purchase. This is a rule in sales, because by making someone feel like they made a good decision before, you putting them in a mindset that they are good decision makers, and can also make a good decision now.

    This doesn’t necessarily have to be a transaction that happened with the company. For example, let’s say that a customer purchased a car from a different vendor previously. Complementing them on the car (if it is the right thing to do), is not out of order. Do not berate competitors or products/services from other providers.

    At one point I was speaking with a client in regards to advertising on our site. He already made the decision to advertise in one portion of the site but I wanted them to add more sections -- it was a good choice for him. I made the client feel very comfortable about the decision he had just made, and reiterated that he already knows the advantages of advertising with us, this is a great opportunity for him to take full advantage of the opportunity and add several sections to their monthly account.

    He agreed.

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    4. The Limited Time Upsell

    This is a great upsell technique! The customer has just decided to make a purchase, so the buying strings are now in full gear. This is a tremendous chance to upsell with a time limit constraint. “Mr. Smith, because you have purchased X with us today, we are willing to offer you Y for 15% off the price. Y will….Benefit, benefit, benefit. And it can be yours for the discounted price, but only if you agree to make this purchase today. “

    In my experience selling online products, the "limited time" approach was one of the best way for clients to upgrade their current purchase at a steal!

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    5. Use Bundling

    Bundling has the perception of added value. Having products/services that stand alone, might be a great way to show that they are valuable in themselves, and what a great way to save on all this great value by having 2 or 3 of these stand alone products/services, all bundled as “Bundle 1," or “Bundle 2?" And by having the bundle the client will save $200!

    We all love bundles. And the great thing about bundles is that they pretty much sell themselves. If your company offers separate products, brainstorm some products that can be sold together and offer them at a lower cost.

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    6. Sell the Sizzle

    There is great care in the initial sale for the client. There is a lot of consideration, feature-benefit discussions, and closing efforts. But unfortunately when it comes to add-on products or services, there is fear of losing the initial sale, which is why the attempt to upsell is so poor.

    The rule has been that the upsell must be low pressure to avoid losing the sale all together. I am not referring to a strong push of the upsell, but what successful salespeople, that have a tremendous record in upselling have, is the ability to be completely descriptive to a point you can’t resist it -- and then they leave it alone.

    The sizzle is something top waiters know how to do best. They know how to describe the dessert in a way that is so appealing that the customers can’t say no, even if they are completely full.

    So for any product or service, have a plan to attempt the upsell by being descriptive, not about the features/benefits, but about the sizzle. Tie lots of senses and feelings into this upsell.

    Even if the customer won’t agree, they won’t feel like they were pressured and might come back for more some other time.

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    7. Be Knowledgeable and Target Upsell Attempts Carefully

    This is not so much a technique as it is a warning. Clients know when an add-on won’t provide much value when the upsell attempt was automatic and had little to no description or added value. And even worse would be if they actually would consider it by asking questions, and then the salesperson drops the ball by coming back with an unsatisfactory answer.

    At electronics retailers, everyone knows that the extended warranty is pretty much pure profit and almost useless on electronics for the most part. The attempt at upselling the warranty is so weak, because it seems like the service reps don’t have enough knowledge to answer the questions: “Why do I need the extended warranty? Is the product not good enough?"

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    8. Give them a Discount on Their Next Purchase

    Sometimes you can’t get an extra sale because the customer just doesn’t necessarily need or want to add anything else. The next best thing would be to give them an incentive to come back. By offering a discount on their next visit or purchase, you can actually gain permission to keep in touch with them and remind them that they still have the discount available, increasing the chances for a follow up purchase.

    The follow up purchase serves as an upsell, because this is an additional product or service that you won't have to try and sell again individually.

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    9. With Today’s Order, Offer a Free Trial or Sample of Another Product

    This upsell method can work for anyone in any industry. Sometimes those free samples or trial periods sit as a reminder in the client’s mind, better than any follow up emails or phone calls can. This is also a great way to test new products or ideas.

    Let's say the client has decided to purchase a "Light" version of a software. If the more advanced versions have a lot of value added, you will have increased the chance that the consumer will opt to upgrade their current purchase at the end of the trial, upselling successfully.

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    10. The Referral -- Who Could Benefit from this Product

    Finally, what sales organization would be complete without some referral system in place? This might not seem like an upsell, but if you get an extra sale from the same client would you consider it to be?

    Ask for referrals, or in some industries when they make a purchase, ask if they would like to gift a purchase/coupon/gift card to anyone? Don’t forget to add the descriptive sizzle; the same rules apply to all effective upsell techniques.

    Upsell successfully!

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    References

    Some of these tips were taken from my previous experience in financial, service, and online sales. Other resources used for this article include:

    30 Seconds to Significant Sales by Jeff Mowatt, http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/30secsales.htm

    Cross Sell & Upsell Technique by Daniel Tartaro, http://www.slideshare.net/dmedeiros/crosssellecommerce07

    Image credit: arte ram/stock.xchng under non-exclusive, non transferrable license

    If you have any questions related to this article, feel free to leave a comment below.