Worried that your upselling techniques will drive customers away? Here’s how you can pull it off without annoying them. 

You’re familiar with upselling techniques already. So much so that you might not even notice them. You run into them at fast food drive-thrus and retail shops all the time. Surely, you know that you can “supersize” your meal or make your soft drink a large for just a little more cash. Or there’s the not-so-subtle movie theater snack bar where you can make that large popcorn a bottomless bag for an extra little bit. 

These upselling techniques are so common that we almost don’t notice them. And yet, we also know from our own experience or from the experience of friends that upselling isn’t always so benign. While the way cars are sold may not be as pressure-laden as it once was, there are still dealers out there who push you hard to add on all those optional gadgets that cost a small fortune. 

Somewhere in the middle of this, however, are effective upselling techniques that work well enough that your customers notice. At the same time, these techniques don’t require you to be pushy and annoying. Here are five you can start using today. 

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upselling techniques

The 5 upselling techniques you need as part of your sales strategy

1. Don’t be pushy. One of the best things you can do to upsell is to relax and let things happen naturally (which we’ll get to momentarily). Bring up the upsell, but if it’s clear the customer isn’t interested, let it go. It’s better to have a happy customer who will stay with you than a one-time customer, no matter how much they spend. 

2. Make it relevant. There is some crossover between upselling techniques and cross-selling techniques. (Quick refresher: upselling refers to a bigger/more expensive version of the same item or service, while cross-selling refers to a different but complementary product or service.) In both cases, however, it has to be relevant. For example, don’t try and sell your customer on a sectional, pull-out sleeper sofa when they just told you they’re trying to downsize. On the other hand, if you’re selling life insurance and your customer mentions they want to make sure their family is well taken care of, you can talk about the differences a more comprehensive policy would make. 

3. Let it happen naturally. This is one of those upselling techniques that works exceedingly well simply because the upsell happens naturally as part of the conversation. For you, as the salesperson, the trick is to listen attentively and pick up cues. You’ll have to go off script, but, of course, your script is there not as a word-for-word monologue. It’s there to guide and help you along. 

4. Add “levels” to your offering. Call them tiers, levels, or packages. The goal with these levels is to offer something at three different price points. That gives you an entry-level offering, your “standard” offer, then your highest-priced product or service level. While certainly not a guarantee, these three-tiered offerings usually result in the middle tier being the most popular. So that’s where you want to place your most profitable offer. This also gets you off the hook for upselling and puts the upsell into your customers’ hands. 

5. Use the upsell to solve a problem. Almost all sales is about solving a problem, and that’s true with the most effective upselling techniques, as well. Looking back at the life insurance policy mentioned above, for example, the problem is that your customer is concerned that their family won’t have enough money to live comfortably in the event of their death. So an upsell, in this case, solves that problem. A more significant policy offers a larger payout and the peace of mind that comes with knowing family financial issues are taken care of. 

Upselling techniques that meet these criteria, especially when they happen naturally and solve a problem, will rarely, if ever, annoy your customers. Instead, they show that you’re paying attention and working to match your customer with the product or service that will best meet their needs. In fact, good customer service would almost require you to upsell, because that upsell should always be in the best interest of your customer. 

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