5 Upselling Tips to Help You Supersize Your Bottom Line

“You want fries with that?” That old McDonald’s standby may not be the most elegant example of upselling, but it certainly works. (Admit it, you took the fries. And you supersized them, too.) Why not use similar tactics to generate bigger sales for your small business? Here are five tips for upselling your customers.

  1. Keep offers relevant. Don’t try to sell apples when your customers are buying oranges — unless, of course, they’re making fruit salad. To increase your odds for success, upsell a product or service that’s related to the primary purchase. For example, if you’re designing a website for a client, you may find him receptive if you offer web hosting as a supplemental service.
  2. Sell solutions, not services. Most people buy products and services to fill a need. To this end, identify your customers’ common needs and offer solutions that help meet them (as long as you don’t stray too far from your core business). For instance, golf courses sell tees and balls, and McDonald’s offers those oh-so-tempting fries to hungry Big Mac buyers. This works for services, too — just ask any gardener, who probably offers raking or leaf blowing and snow removal in addition to basic lawn mowing.
  3. Offer a range of options. Customers have varying budgets, so providing a range of upsale options will help you appeal to budget shoppers and money-is-no-object types alike. For example, if your content company completely rewrites a customer’s website copy, potential upselling packages include minor tweaks on a quarterly basis for a modest fee or daily blog updates for a much higher price. Deals or bundles can further sweeten the deal.
  4. Explain the benefits. Make sure your customer knows what she stands to gain from the service or product you’re pitching. Whether it’s cost savings, additional security, peace-of-mind (i.e., warranties), or the hassle-free ease of an all-in-one solution, prove to your customer that the upsale offer is a worthwhile purchase. Long-term numbers make benefits sound even more enticing. Which is more impressive to your ears: saving $100 a month or $1,200 a year?
  5. Time it right. If you treat the additional sales as an afterthought, customers will too. About.com sales guide Wendy Connick recommends striking while the iron’s hot, right after the customer agrees to the primary purchase. “At that moment, your prospect is in the mood to buy, and he’s probably feeling pretty good about you and his new purchase,” she explains. Let’s go back to those delicious fries: The cashier offers them immediately after you order a standalone burger, not while you’re paying for it.

If this was a six-item list, we’d add, “Keep it brief and don’t get pushy.” What additional upselling tips do you recommend? Tell us in the Comments field below.

About Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos is a freelance writer-slash-small business owner who finds himself endlessly fascinated by technology and its role in business. He's worked with Wired, Laptop Magazine, the Global Strategic Management Inst., New York Times properties and a bevy of local businesses. Connect with Brad on LinkedIn.
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