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 in sales, you must master many techniques and methods. The art of selling requires patience, great listening, and the proper mindset. Those who become successful in this field, all have probably mastered the art of upselling.

Upselling is a technique where a seller (salesperson) persuades the customer (you) to purchase a more expensive item, upgrade or other add-ons 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 was heard at every McDonald’s in the ’90s — “Would you like me to Super-size that?” – is the “textbook” example of upselling.

It’s important to note that upselling is commonly confused with cross-selling. For the uninformed, cross-selling is when you are selling products that are different to the intended purchase but very closely related. Here is an example – If I’m buying a new oven for my home, and the salesperson pitches the matching microwave to complete the set – 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.

These 4 Steps in Greater Detail


• 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 conveniently located near registers. (The batteries at the electronics store, socks at the shoe store, candy and magazines at the grocery store.)

I was eating at Burntwood Tavern in Akron, OH the other week, and they put on an upselling clinic. They asked my mom if she wanted another beer in the most thoughtful way. The waitress started a conversation, to see if she enjoyed it first, before asking if she wanted another.

And then after we finished our meals, she comes flying in with dessert. They were these adorable little cups, almost like big shot glasses of ice cream desserts. They were presented with style and were irresistible to the eye (and to my stomach). We bought 3 of the 4. The plan was 2, but at the last second, my dad chose one. My mom didn’t get to pick. Sorry, mom.


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. Do you have a great upselling story you want to share?

By: Alex Siminoff @alexsiminoff