Upsell Customers Without Seeming Sleazy

BY Jessica Helinski
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Research shows that sellers who upsell customers say doing so drives up to 30% of revenue. If you aren’t one of those reps taking advantage of upselling, it’s time to start. 

And if you’re worried about alienating current clients, stop. There are upselling strategies that are successful without being sleazy.

Sleazy sales reps will try to upsell everyone and anyone, regardless of whether or not the customer actually needs the additional service,” writes Hubspot’s Erin Rodrigue. “But from my experience, when you focus primarily on your customer's experience and goals, upselling benefits both you and your customer tremendously.”

Why Sellers Should Upsell Customers

Upselling is a critical skill to master in sales. As SalesForce explains, “Successful upselling addresses customers’ needs or solves a problem by offering them better or more relevant products or services, which in turn builds trust and loyalty.”

This, in turn, not only boosts your value to the customer and drives revenue. It also nurtures the relationship you’ve built with them. 

Sellers, though, may be wary of trying to upsell. They may not want to come across as greedy. Or they may worry the customer will feel pressured. 

While these are valid concerns, there are ways to engage in upselling while also respecting the client and staying ethical

Understand the Client’s True Needs

Don’t make the mistake of trying to upsell customers when there really is no need. Not all customers will have a need for an upgraded product or enhanced service. While it can be tempting to offer more to every customer, it’s not always what every customer needs.

You must make sure you have a thorough knowledge of the customer’s current business and how they use your solution. Then, you need to clearly see how an upsell would benefit them. You should be able to clearly articulate what they’re lacking and why the upsell bridges that gap.

As Rodrigue explains, “Focus your upselling efforts on customers with an evident gap in their current plan…If you try to sell products that have a slim chance of delivering a positive outcome to the customer, you risk causing major damage to the relationship…”

For help with uncovering potential opportunities for an upsell, ask these post-​sale questions to current clients on a regular basis. And make sure to engage in active listening so you don’t miss vital insights. 

Pair Upsells With Milestones

Another effective way to upsell customers is to time your offer with a relevant milestone. 

For example, if they’ve successfully met one of their goals. There may be an opportunity to enhance their success by adding an upgrade or additional solution from you. 

Timing your ask to align with their win helps them plan for what’s next. It also shows that you want continued success for them. “Conversations about the future offer a natural opportunity to bring up new ideas and projects you want to accomplish with your customers,” Rodrigue notes. 

Additionally, because they’ve hit a milestone using your solution, they know you can deliver. Having demonstrated your expertise, it will be easier to pitch an upgrade or additional services. 

Be Transparent

It’s always important to maintain transparency in sales, even after a deal closes. And when attempting to upsell customers, it’s even more critical. 

You can avoid coming across as self-​serving or greedy by communicating clearly what you’re offering and the additional costs. 

Be clear about the benefits the customer can expect. Be detailed, and use storytelling to help explain. 

And as Rodrigue explains, “it's especially important to provide transparent pricing information. Give your customer a complete breakdown of what you're proposing and thoroughly explain the cost and timing involved.”

Keep Sharpening Your Skills

These are just a few examples of how to approach upselling in an ethical, respectful manner. The key is to always focus on what’s best for the customer and how you can enhance their experience. 

And don’t stop here. Keep honing those upselling skills to ensure success for both customers and your own business. For more guidance, take a look at these upselling tips.

Photo by Yan Krukau