Upselling in sales can get a bad rap. We’ve all been there.

Imagine this. You are in a tech store, smartphone shopping (yep, it’s that time again). You go in and tell the rep that you like the look of the new iPhone.

You feel heard and valued as the sales rep listens to what sold it to you in the adverts or your kid’s recommendation. Or, at least, they seem to until they start sashaying you over to the Samsung that’s,

“$200 more expensive, but top-of-the-range....the 25-megapixel camera will knock your socks off”.

Only the last picture you took was a Polaroid, and now it feels like they didn’t listen to a word you said!

And just like that, the whole experience goes sour. You even consider walking out and saving your purchase for another day, when you can talk to someone who pays you more than just lip service.

Upselling like this can often overwhelm customers rather than cater to their needs. However, it doesn't have to be this way. Done right, it can seamlessly blend into the conversation, offering real value to your customer while boosting your sales.

Successful upselling techniques are all about customer enrichment. This article will unravel how to master the art. We’ll explore the upselling strategies that enhance your customers' brand experience without exerting pressure on them.

And it all begins with a change in perspective.

Know what your client needs

A deep understanding of your client's needs is at the heart of any successful sales strategy. It's the fundamental pillar that supports every interaction, pitch, and solution you present to them. It's not just about ticking off a list of requirements; it's about comprehending the reasons behind those requirements. What are they hoping to achieve with your product or service? What problem are they looking to solve?

Now, here's a critical part: needs can be multi-layered. Yes, there is the basic functionality, like,

"I need a CRM software to manage my customer data."

That's your starting point. But then you must delve deeper, exploring the social and emotional needs that underpin this requirement. Maybe they're trying to enhance their reputation in the market, or they want to provide a superior customer experience. This isn't just a 'nice-to-have' aspect of the sales process. It's the difference between a one-off sale and a long-term, value-based relationship.

At Qwilr, we use a framework we call ‘Jobs-to-be-Done.’ The premise is simple but powerful: people don't just want a product or service; they're looking to make progress in a certain aspect of their lives or business. Your job is to drill down to find exactly what that is.

By truly knowing what your client needs, you position yourself not just as a vendor, but as a partner in their journey. It's not about pushing them toward the most expensive option. It's about aligning your offerings with their aspirations, creating a win-win scenario that fosters trust, loyalty, and repeat business.

Educate the customer

So let's talk about one of the most overlooked aspects of the sales process: educating the customer.

Selling doesn't start and end with offering a product or service and getting a customer to say “yes'’ - that's merely transactional. To elevate your sales approach, you must consider your role as not just a salesperson, but also an educator.

Why is this important? Simple. When a customer understands the 'why' behind the 'what,' they're more likely to see the value in your offering. They appreciate that they're not just buying a product or service, but a solution - a means to achieve their objectives. But to do this, you need to educate them about what you're offering and how it specifically benefits them.

For instance, imagine you're a cybersecurity provider. Your client may think they need antivirus software, but you know they also need a more comprehensive security protocol to protect sensitive data. It's your job to educate them about cybersecurity threats they might not even be aware of, and how your solution can address these risks. By doing this, you've elevated their understanding and demonstrated the deeper value of your offering.

When you take the time to explain complex concepts or demystify industry jargon, you're essentially saying,

"I respect you and value your understanding."

This level of respect builds trust and makes you more than a salesperson. You become a trusted advisor.

But, remember, the aim of educating your customer isn't to bombard them with information or show off your expertise. It's about making complex things understandable and relevant to them. It's about shining a light on your value in a language they understand.

Suggest extras in your proposal

Consider your proposal like a fine dining experience. (Please, hear me out…)

Sure, the entrée is what they came for, but the side dishes – those extra sauces, the uniquely garnished salads, that handcrafted bread – they can really enhance the experience.

So in your proposal, present these optional extras separately, as a good restaurateur would do. They are complements to the main dish, not requirements.

By presenting additional options - clearly labelled as optional, with no stealth and no shame - you’re not applying any sales pressure. You're merely opening up the conversation. It's a way to highlight what you previously hinted at during your conversations, formalizing them on paper.

With tools like Qwilr’s proposal templates, it's effortless to present these optional add-ons, neatly tucked away in their separate section. Your client can scan through them, ponder, and select what they want before giving the nod.

Remember, it's not about upselling; it's about painting a complete picture of how you can help them reach their goals.

Offer tiered packages

Tiered packages are, of course, the most typical way to upsell. Indeed, this is the sales strategy we use on our pricing page!

However, it can be applied just as effectively for service-based businesses. Look at the world of photography, for instance. Photographers frequently combine a photo shoot with various print or digital file options. In fact, some wedding photographers go a step further, offering a deluxe photo album as an attractive add-on for the highest-tier packages.

The success of these upselling opportunities lies not just in the offering but in the clear, concise communication. It's paramount that your clients understand what they're receiving at each level and each higher price point.

Through Qwilr, we make this simple, with all your offerings presented in an organized, understandable format right on your pricing page. When your client is ready to move forward, the process is seamless. They choose the package that resonates with their needs, click “Accept,” and the job is yours. And just like that, you've achieved a successful upsell without unnecessary pressure or complexity.

This is the power of clear, strategic pricing tiers: your customer feels understood, and your business thrives.

Want to try this for your product or service? Creating pricing tiers doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about your average order value and create packages on this number's high, medium, and low sides. To entice customers to go for the larger or more premium package, consider what additional items you can include to provide value to the buyer. These special offers can make customers think seriously about making the additional investment.

Give a discount for bulk purchases

Let's say your business doesn't offer a wide variety of services. No problem. You can still spice up your offerings by creating packages based on quantity. If you offer, say, blog posts. Hours of web development. Stock photography. Why not offer these in bigger bundles, with a sweeter deal attached?

When clients are interested in more than just a one-time service or product, incentivize them with a discount for purchasing a larger quantity. The principle is simple: the more they buy, the less they pay per item. Let all clients, even the ones looking for a one-time service, know about these bundle deals. You never know; they might be tempted to buy more now or return in the future if they're happy with their initial purchase.

To make this easier to implement, you can try using the conditional pricing option in Qwilr. With this feature, your clients can play around with the quote block to set the exact quantity they want to purchase. You control the discount rate, and they decide the quantity. This creates a fluid, interactive experience for your client while simplifying the upselling process for you.

Offer trials

You might think of trials as a risky business move, giving away your product or service for free or at a steep discount. But when you look closer, these incentives can be a goldmine for upselling.

Trials give your clients a taste of what they can expect from your product or service. It's like getting a free sample at a food market. You taste, you enjoy, and suddenly you're walking away with a goofy grin and a bag full of gourmet cheese you never knew you needed. That's the power of a good trial—it opens up the door for your clients to discover they need more than they originally thought.

But, how do you ensure this trial turns into a full-fledged purchase? By continually showing the value they'll gain from a full purchase throughout the trial period, by proactively checking in, providing support, and offering guidance. Show them the utility of your product and the outstanding service that comes with it.

Remember, a trial is not just about demonstrating your product's features; it's also about building a relationship. It's about making new customers feel valued, understood, and supported. It's about creating an environment where upgrading from a trial to a full package feels like the most natural step in the world.

Don’t forget your client when it’s over

Once a final invoice is sent, the impulse is to kick back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. And, sure, there’s a place for that! But what you’ve also done is give yourself a platform for future success in this instance too. After all, once a client is happy with a first purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again compared to a first-timer:

The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.

— Marketing Metrics

You can also jump on slower periods through the year or expected sale seasons to share a promotion with your clients. Utilise email marketing with your current customers and subscribers- some product recommendations, a limited-time offer, or even some perks. This isn’t a traditional upselling offer but a great way to stay top-of-mind and gently remind your customers of your services.


How do you upsell without being pushy?

To upsell without being pushy, understand your customers' needs and provide personalized recommendations based on their interests. Focus on highlighting the benefits and value of the upsell, and use suggestive language to offer choices. Respect the customer's decision if they decline the upsell and continue providing excellent service.

What are the benefits of up-selling?

Upselling provides three key benefits: increased revenue (and lifetime value) by maximizing the size of each transaction, enhanced customer satisfaction through tailored solutions, and the potential for long-term customer retention, loyalty, and repeat business. It is a win-win approach that boosts profitability, improves the customer experience, and strengthens relationships with customers.

What are the negatives of up-selling?

Upselling also carries potential negatives, including the risk of being perceived as pushy, the possibility of increased costs for customers, and the potential for decision paralysis. To overcome these negatives, it is important to approach upselling with a customer-centric mindset, ensuring recommendations are genuinely relevant products- fully aligned with their needs- while maintaining clear, transparent communication and respecting customer boundaries.

Is up-selling the same as cross-selling?

Up-selling and cross-selling are two different sales techniques. Up-selling involves convincing the customer to buy a more expensive version of a product. Cross-selling, on the other hand, involves encouraging a customer to buy related additional products in addition to their original purchase. eCommerce and even SaaS companies are masters at this cross-selling. Think of Amazon pitching supplementary products with pop-ups or at checkout or QuickBooks also selling a subscription to TurboTax.

Up-selling doesn't have to be a dirty word

We hope this article has de-mystified and helped repair some of the reputational damage up-selling has taken over the years. Done correctly, this sales tactic should leave both parties satisfied. They get the most relevant solutions (including similar products and services) to help them achieve their objectives, and you have deepened a genuine client relationship. With business secured now, as well as a solid platform for the future.

Our enterprise sales templates help you build that platform. A totally personalized proposal for all the relevant stakeholders to visit (and revisit) in their own time- even, eventually, accept and sign. Done right, you’ll find they even upsell themselves too!

You can also jump on slower periods through the year or expected sale seasons to share a promotion with your clients. While this isn’t traditional upselling, it’s a way to stay top-of-mind and gently remind your clients of your services.

About the author

Brendan Connaughton, Head of Growth Marketing

Brendan Connaughton|Head of Growth Marketing

Brendan heads up growth marketing and demand generation at Qwilr, overseeing performance marketing, SEO, and lifecycle initiatives. Brendan has been instrumental in developing go-to-market functions for a number of high-growth startups and challenger brands.