The Power of the Upsell

Sunday 09 April, 2017
Image: Shutterstock

Peady's Selling Engagement


“If your sales employees aren’t trained on effective ways to upsell, chances are you either offend customers by being too pushy, or leave money on the table that customers would have willingly spent with you.   Either option is costly.” - Jeff Mowatt Customer Service Strategist.

Upselling and cross selling

If you’re not upselling and cross-selling at every available opportunity you’re losing out in huge extra sales and profits.

But first the definitions:


  1. Upselling is encouraging the purchase of anything that would make the primary product more expensive - an example would be in addition to a basic advertising campaign adding a sponsorship.
  2. Cross-selling is any other product to be purchased in conjunction with the primary product - the example here, adding a digital option to a mainstream campaign.

The concept works for B2C as well as B2B - additionally, research shows that upselling is more powerful than cross-selling. In fact, up to 20 times more powerful!

How and when?

If a sales person doesn’t understand how to upsell and cross sell; and when to utilise the concepts they’ll do it poorly; or worse not do it all!

  • Have it quite clear in your mind what the range of upsell and cross-sell opportunities that exist for you to offer.
  • Listen carefully in your customer interactions so you can identify the right time to introduce either an upsell or cross-sell.
  • Have a strong understanding of the needs of the customer (or potential customer) – no need, no sale.
  • Keep your upsell and cross-sell recommendation limited and specific. Note the key word recommendations.
  • “Bundling” is one effective way to implement an effective strategy - include 2 or 3 production changes for example into a bundled package.
  • Avoid major increases in cost from the originally agreed budget. The “rule of 25” should apply (never make the final cost any more than 25% of the original).
  • Use testimonials and/or references from other clients who have used the upsell or cross-sell opportunity successfully.
  • Treat the process as customer service not a sales pitch.
  • Harness your support staff to “plant the seed” - creative or accounts people talk with customers all the time.
  • Finally track your success with metrics – the more facts you have the more effective you’ll be.

The experts say

I’ll leave you with a few more pieces of evidence on the effectiveness of a strong upsell or cross-sell strategy:

  • Amazon reports that as much as 35% of their revenue is from cross-selling.
  • McDonalds are masters of the upsell “do you want to upsize your order”?
  • According to recent research, companies that implement an upsell and cross-sell strategy can generate as much as 10 percent additional revenue.

But, true success isn’t automatic you need to work at it.

Until next week good selling!


About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at




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