If you spend a decent amount of time-consuming content or listening to conversations about sales in business you have surely been told to upsell. It’s gotten to the point where it’s one of those buzzwords we hear again and again. The problem is everybody uses the word but very few people can really explain the meaning let alone the practical steps to achieving this in your business. Fortunately for you, that is the discussion we’re going to have in this article. If boosting your revenue and profitability sounds like something you want to do then read on.


In simple terms upselling is the act of getting your customers to buy more. This could be more products or more of the same product or a combination of the two. To use an example most if not all of us can relate to thinking about a fast-food seller. When you ask for a burger you are usually given the option to add chips and a drink to it to make it a meal of some sort. That’s upselling right there. If you’re familiar with this scenario you would’ve also thought about how cheap the additional chips and drinks are compared to buying them outright. We will talk about that a little later.

Why upsell?

For some people, the desire to encourage customers to buy more doesn’t come naturally or easily. Well here is a little motivation for you. Firstly successful upselling increases the revenue per customer or user which is a key metric to track in your sales. It’s a boost to revenue and assuming roughly fixed customer service costs also boosts profitability. Secondly, it introduces your customers to more of your products if you have many product lines and this broadens the relationship with customers, you could become a one-stop-shop for them. Finally upselling is the very creator of the back end which in sales is a term for growing the customer’s spend once they’re in. As you can see upselling is desirable in any business.

What? How do you know what to upsell?

If you are a single product business upselling for you means getting a customer to buy more of your product. If your product has limitations such as being a one-a-day use product then soon you will reach a level where it may not make sense or be viable (due to perishability) to upsell further. Your upsell prospects, therefore, are in getting customers to buy or commit to buying in the future like a subscription model. If you have a multi-product line business you can look to getting customers to combine products. An insurer can encourage life assurance customers to also become health insurance customers just as a grocery store would convince customers who want to buy buns to combine them with a soft drink.

Making it easier

The whole point in upselling is to make it easier for the customer to make the decision. Offering customers the additional item may work in some scenarios while in others you may need to be more direct and intentional. It doesn’t matter what your business is or your type of business, you need to work on it to get it right. In many industries, salespeople will miss out on sales opportunities simply because they never ask for the sale. Also relying on your salespeople or yourself to always remember to ask the question is perhaps not the best idea. Customer interactions vary widely and wildly so I recommend automating the upselling process.


To drive the point home let us look at some practical examples of upselling.

Banded packs/bundles

Banded packs are the practical format of it that I can easily refer to. This is when your supermarket combines toothpaste with mouthwash or jam with peanut butter. I also gave the example of an insurance company combining life assurance with health assurance. Whether good or service this works well especially when there seems to be some sort of price saving. You will see this best expressed where you will be offered the second product cheaper when you buy it with the first.

Bigger unit discounts

We should all be familiar with this one. The 2 litre variant of your favourite drink is cheaper on a per litre basis than the 500ml variant. This encourages the customer who can, to buy the bigger unit. You can also see this behaviour in subscription services which offer cheaper per month pricing when you sign up for a full year instead of paying per month.

Decoy strategy

The decoy strategy is a bit more tricky but it is still upselling. The decoy strategy is usually done where a business offers 3 options, let’s say small, medium and large. Customers may only need the small but upon comparing the prices they will realise they get better value for money from the medium and best value from the large. The trick is the small is overpriced rather than the medium and large being real discounts. The pricing on the small is simply used to create a benchmark in your mind which the medium and large will look better than.

Upselling also happens to be one of the easiest ways to boost revenue. You are dealing with existing customers or people you have already convinced to buy, getting them over the line is a lot easier and less costly than going out there to find a new customer. Ideally, you want both of course.