How to Profit from Upsells

What are Upsells? The concept of upselling is pretty simple:  it’s the action of encouraging customers to purchase additional products, services, or an upgraded version of whatever they intend to purchase.

Modern consumers, however, have been warned to be savvy in their transactions. And while some individuals will agree to all the bells and whistles, many will still be hesitant when it comes to adding extra figures to the overall purchase price, even when they may agree they need the additional products or services.

How then, can merchants encourage customers past this point of hesitation without sounding like a high-pressure salesman?

Identifying upsell opportunities

It’s not an immediate and easy feat, and it’s going to take some time and some insight into who the customers are, what they want, and why they want it.  Fill in the blanks:

Customers need my product because…
They will come to me when they want…
When they buy … they should also buy…

Now, how does one figure this out without interviewing every prospective customer?  The internet!  Examine the niche.  Look at successful websites.  Look at not so successful websites.  Watch forums intently to see who is gaining sales and who is losing respect.  Understanding the customer helps gain insight into what they will buy, and what they will need in addition to what they buy. 

This insight will point to trends, which will in turn help determine where to target marketing.

Targeting Customers’ needs and problems

Perhaps a certain portion of active customers in a niche are looking for XY, but they also express frustration with Z.  Perhaps another portion of active customers only buy Z, but a lot of their discussion focuses on whether or not they should also purchase Y.

This is where it is important to segment customers.  In this instance, the first example could receive targeted emails that explain why your Z is the best Z on the market.  For the second segment, review how Y works, and what benefits it may have when paired with Z.

Then, take that a step further and demonstrate how XY and Z create the ultimate functional package.

Customers want solutions, and they want success.  Find out what success means to each customer, and use segmenting as a way to “talk” to them directly about their problems.  Use their feedback as a way to map solutions for them through strategic marketing, rather than pushing a “one size fits all” marketing strategy.

The customer should leave the experience thinking “This is the solution I didn’t know I needed.”

Do not hesitate to investigate further among your existing base of customers. One of the free tools you can use for this purpose, is Survey Monkey.

Developing the Upsell process

Developing a customer journey is one way to ensure this segmenting is working correctly.  As a customer base grows, there will be fully engaged repeat customers who are perfectly happy purchasing a product now and again.

Follow up with them.  Ask them to leave reviews or provide some comments on how the product worked for them.

There will be customers who click frequently, but never pull the trigger.  They are probably searching for proof before they make the plunge.  This is where the recommendations of other customers will be key- seeing that other people have used a product or service successfully, and that it HAS alleviated their similar problems will make that product or service look all the more attractive.

The more attractive a product appears, the more customers will trust and ultimately purchase that product.

Every customer considers a monetary transaction an investment.  For example, a customer who purchases a pair of leggings is making an investment in comfort and style while working out.

Honor that investment, and make the upsell relevant to that investment.  If a customer purchases a pair of leggings, perhaps the webpage includes a splash page at checkout that recommends a coordinating t-shirt, or a fun water bottle.

While it may be tempting to try to sell a customer on every single product, make sure the upsell is part of the solution, and part of a good investment.

upsell targeting and process

The aspects of a successful Upsell

Consider an upsell as providing extra value, not selling more stuff. 

One way to make sure the customer understands the value is through strong copy.  Suggestive sales copy, such as “Customers who purchased this item also looked at” or “We also recommend Product T,” when paired with easy links to the other product is a great way to unintrusively ask the customer if they’re only making a partial investment. 

Having excellent copy and/or video demonstrations is very much key to successful upselling.

This is a merchant’s opportunity to show how a suite of services works best together, or how a product with additional upgrades will improve the user experience.  Be as descriptive as possible, so customers feel like they know exactly what they’re getting before they even click the purchase button.

Customers want to feel comfortable making an investment, and strong copy or easy-to-follow, personal-feeling videos will go a long way to making customers feel like this is the correct and trusted resource to solve their problems.

Some psychology behind…

Additionally, remember these things take time.  An immediate upsell is fantastic, but rare.  A repeat customer is more likely to accept an upsell than a first time customer.

Think about the first car you ever purchased on your own.  More than likely, it was pretty simple- a means of transportation rather than anything luxurious or comfortable. 

Then think about the next car...

Maybe this one had a sunroof, or a nicer stereo.  And it was great!  So the next time you needed a car, you test drove the same brand, only this one was even nicer!  And as you sat there in the dealership, thinking fondly of your succession of cars, you nodded agreement when the salesperson asked if you wanted the super stereo, Bluetooth, aluminum rims, and keyless entry. 

This is exactly how anyone wants sales to go- repeat customers buying more and more each time.  Time can work both ways here- both for and against sales.  Having repeat customers over a period of time means retention and loyalty, both of which are definitely good things.  But that time in between sales may seem like an eternity when sales are what keep a business afloat.  Use that time to massage the relationship.

Don’t forget about each other- stay in touch through eblasts, blogs, and sales.  Though the upsell may not come immediately, a satisfied customer will eventually make that greater investment, and encourage their friends to do the same!

Final Considerations

Every business owner wants the upsell, but creating the right marketing strategy to create an upsell requires a bit of strategy, and a lot of creating the best environment.

Through being in touch with the customers in the relevant niche and convincing customers of the validity of their investment, it is possible to upsell more frequently over time.

Remember to be patient, and to always research current trends and concerns in a particular niche to ensure customers are targeted appropriately- it will save tons of time and result in more enthusiastic sales!


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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