Sales Techniques: The Dos and Dont’s of Up Selling


Regardless of the industry, almost every business wants to boost sales and drive larger profits. Even if you’re already making solid sales, there’s always potential for improvement. One of the most effective techniques is up selling, when an upgrade or add-on is offered to an existing purchase. If you’ve ever been asked to super-size a fast food order, then you’ve experienced this technique firsthand.

To master this tactic, it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of up selling.

Up Selling Do’s

Be Prepared

To maximize your conversion rate, have a basic script planned out ahead of time and know how each product or service can be up sold. A sales rep from an electronics store might suggest purchasing additional RAM when someone is buying a computer or an extended warranty. Knowing ahead of time which upgrades or add-ons are logical for a product or service will streamline the process and show customers you are knowledgeable.

Good Timing

Another integral part of this technique is offering the up sell at the perfect time. The best time is typically as soon as the customer decides to purchase, but before checking out. This is when they are ready to buy and are most open to suggestions for product or service enhancements. The exception is when someone is looking for a product and you point them to a higher-end model that’s better quality but more expensive. Asking a few questions to assess their needs should help you decide the ideal time to up sell.

Demonstrate Value

Tangibly demonstrate how a customer will benefit from the up sell you offer. In the instance of additional computer RAM, they would benefit from faster web browsing and more network capabilities. Clearly explain the problems that the up sell will solve or how a customer’s life should increase the likelihood of converting.

Up Selling Don’ts

Going Overboard

A common mistake sales reps make is trying to up sell to the point where customers would be making another big purchase. Being too greedy and trying to drain customers for everything they’re worth is counterproductive and can even create resentment. That’s why a suggested up sell should increase the original sale by a maximum of 25 percent.

Closed-Ended Questions

Another mistake is trying to up sell by asking yes or no questions like, “Is that all for you today?” or “Would you like anything else?” Instead, guide the conversation and make sure a customer is aware of the possibilities they have. You might say something like, “Let me show you (product x) that will perfectly complement the product you are about to buy.”

Being Overly Aggressive

While a reasonable number of customers are receptive to up selling, some aren’t. For this reason, use discretion when making suggestions and recommendations. If a customer is in a noticeably bad mood, it’s probably not smart to push your luck and pound them over the head with upgrades and add-ons. Just be respectful and understand when no means no.

Mastering the art of the up sell takes time, practice, and intuition. Although your conversion rate might not be outstanding initially, some diligence and perseverance should optimize your ability and increase your odds for success. Once you get the hang of it, you can expect to increase the average sales from each customer considerably. Besides this, the added value customers receive from up sells can build rapport and lead to repeat sales.