Upsell and upselling strategies

Ultimate up selling strategies that maximize customer basket size

Upselling can ultimately increase your revenue, improve customer satisfaction and create a larger customer base. Up selling the right way requires more than just your simple sales knowledge, so knowing how and when to apply it is crucial. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best up selling techniques and how you can apply these to your own business. 

So what exactly is up selling?

Up selling is a sales strategy which can help you earn more from your current customers. The process of up selling is simple; you suggest a complementary product or service which adds value to the existing product that the customer is purchasing.

A classic example is when you recommend a premium version of the TV that the customer is considering which has a raft of additional features and benefits, at a slightly higher price point. 

Source: Canity

Why should up selling be a part of your customer journey?

There are plenty of reasons why upselling is important and, businesses that really succeed have managed to strike a good balance between providing a quality product or service to customers, while at the same time maximising profit. 

  • Up selling helps improve customer relationships – Up selling can be a great way to help your customers win. If the main purpose of the upsell is to find better solutions for customer problems, you are providing a better experience which will also improve your relationship with them. 
  • Up selling is easier than finding new customers – In his book, Marketing Metrics, author, Paul Farris, shares that companies have a 60 – 70% success rate of upselling products and services to existing customers, compared to 5 – 20% chance of selling them to new customers. It is simply easier to focus on retaining loyal customers than it is to spend time, energy, and money acquiring new ones. 
  • Up selling helps increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – One of the most tracked statistics when it comes to measuring customer relationship is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). To put it simply, CLV is the total monetary value that a customer represents to your business throughout the relationship. By focusing on maximising your CLV, you can increase profit and can then afford to reinvest into other growth driving initiatives, such as customer acquisition campaigns. 
  • Upselling encourages customers to come back for more – When handled the right way, a successful upsell adds value to your customer’s experience. Offering products and services that simplify your customers’ shopping experience makes them loyal to the brand. 

What about up selling vs cross-selling?

It is crucial to understand the difference between cross-selling and up selling. Both are sales techniques which have one goal – to encourage customers to increase the size of their purchase. Whilst both are beneficial to improving your sales performance, they are actually quite different from each other.

Up selling encourages customers to buy an upgrade or add-on to their purchase. For example, you offer customers a premium package with more features which costs a little more than the regular package that they are about to order. 

Cross-selling, on the other hand, encourages customers to buy a service or product that will complement their initial purchase. For example, when you offer customers a training course along with their regular package.

Can we learn up selling from the best brands?

Some of the most successful brands in the world use up selling techniques to improve their overall sales and give a better experience to their customers. Here are some of the most common up selling examples which you can use to increase customer profitability. 

Jet Blue asked its customers directly 

Jet Blue launched the “Even More Space” upsell initiative. Through the introduction of this new upgrade option, passengers have the chance to purchase seats with more legroom. During its launch, the legroom upgrade option was projected to increase Jet Blue’s profit to $190 million annually. The legroom upgrade option exceeded all expectations and boosted the airline’s revenue by 12%. Jet Blue’s strategy was to ask customers who are already committed to fly with them if they were interested in a more comfortable travel experience.

 JetBlue's even more space upsell asks customers directly
Source: Jetblue

Amazon and Best Buy offer Unique Solutions

Customers are becoming more demanding within the shopping experience and now expect unique or tailored solutions. One very good example is how Best Buy and Amazon offer protection plans for tech gadgets. Since gadgets like laptops and mobile phones can be expensive, these protection plans are an amazing solution to the possibility of losing or damaging the product. 

Amazon's upsell offer unique solutions

For an additional $150, customers get benefits such as 24/7 customer service, protection from liquid damage, protection against electrical failure damage and more.

Amazon shows relevant upsells

By simply showing relevant and related products, businesses can remind customers of the other items or services that are available to them. When you are upselling, the best approach is to sell the benefits of the upsell and show your customers why it is important.  A good example is how Amazon upsells the benefits of getting audio versions of the books that it sells online. By simply adding relevant information with a good call-to-action, customers become aware that there is an option to get their books in audio form.

Amazon's upselling strategy shows relevant products

Don’t be pushy

According to’s Jeff Mowwatt, up selling should be effortless. Since upsells are typically attempted when customers have already decided to buy a product or service, it means the hard part of persuading the customer to make the purchase is over. All you need to do is to present them with information about other products and services in a “you may also be interested in” manner. 

There is a careful balance to strike between presenting the up-sell and being overly-persistent which can become an annoyance. This is why upsell placement is crucial. Consider when and where you will place the upsell so that your customer will not feel overwhelmed. 

Spotify simplifies the benefits

It is really important to simplify and use easy to comprehend language so that your customers immediately understand the benefits of the more expensive purchase. 

Spotify's upsell simplifies the language

One of the best examples is how Spotify upsells the service that they offer. With their free service, you enjoy listening to music on shuffle play. However, for just $0.99/month for the first 3 months,  you get five or six more features. Spotify uses terms that are easy to understand like unlimited skips, listen offline, ad free, play any track, and high quality audio to communicate its upsell effectively.

Fastfood chains offer more options

A common phrase that you hear in almost every fast food chain is, “Would you like to go large?”. Buying bigger portions gives the impression that customers are getting better value – so you can also easily justify a higher cost. 

Integrating up selling into your brand

Up selling is an amazing solution if you are looking for ways to increase your average revenue per sale (AKA average order value) and overall customer profitability. By strategically integrating upsell tactics into your sales journey, you should be able to increase profitability and customer lifetime value.

What are three up selling strategies that we can use today?

Here are some easy to use upsell ideas which you can immediately apply to your business.

  1. Determine what your customers need

Before you can successfully start to upsell, you must have a complete understanding of what your customers need

If you have the opportunity, conduct some face-to-face interviews to better understand what they would value more out of the product or service. 

You can also run an online survey for your target customers to get a better understanding of how they use the product and the value they place on various product features. This will enable you to understand how compelling various features may be when planning the up-sell strategy. 

  1. Qualify upsells from the start

Not every customer will be interested in your upsell. Being overly persistent with the upsell will eventually create a negative experience for customers. Qualifying your customers is really important because it will separate customers who are likely to consider your upsell from those who may not. 

  1. Consider the packaging of your products or services

One of the easiest ways to seamlessly include upselling into your sales flow is to consider categorising your products and services. 

For example, you can categorize your services into Bronze, Silver, and Gold. However, when creating categories, make sure your upsells are within a reasonable price range of each other.  

Google Suite shows how this type of upsell strategy can help customers pick the best choice. Google categorised the options so that customers have more power in choosing what is best for their business.

Gsuite package plans shows a good upsell strategy

Upselling is an amazing way to increase average order value. It is a psychological approach to selling which helps customers get better value and helps businesses to increase their profitability.  When handled right, it will help improve the revenue of an organisation and can help businesses understand customers better. 

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About James

James is the founder of Customer Devoted and was previously the managing director of customer engagement agency Ogilvy One and the strategy director for customer loyalty consultancy The Collinson Group.

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