Clientbook Blog
July 2, 2024

The art of the upsell

Over the course of an entire customer lifetime, a shopper will ideally make multiple purchases from your brand. That’s what makes your current customers such a rich source of continuous sales. Their initial purchase becomes an opportunity to engage their interest and bring in more revenue at the same time. The upselling sales technique makes this possible. However, it’s also a potential problem area if done poorly.

The art of the successful upsell involves understanding customer needs, recognizing opportunities, and offering extra value in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel pushy. Done well, upselling enhances the customer journey by focusing on the best interests of the individual and not the brand’s bottom line.

So let’s get to it.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a sales strategy that involves offering a premium version of a product, or additional products, to a shopper already interested in buying something. The more expensive version must provide them with increased value and a better experience overall. Afterall, the average customer doesn’t want to spend more money than they’d planned, especially after researching an item online or browsing the in-store shelves. That’s why the customer interaction needs to focus on what they are getting from the product in the higher price range.

The primary goal of these product recommendations from a company perspective involves increasing transaction value. Current customers become more lucrative. The business makes more money, and inventory turns over more quickly. If done well, the upselling process itself can even boost brand reputation. The buyer is more likely to gush about their positive experience to others.

The difference between upselling and cross-selling

If you’ve heard of upselling, you’ve probably heard about cross-selling as well. So what’s the difference? Let’s break it down. 

The goal of upselling is to get a customer to spend more on higher-end products. This may be the same type of item from a different brand or something similar that has additional features or add-ons. You bring in more revenue, and they leave a more satisfied customer. For example, a savvy salesperson can upsell a laptop with better specifications to someone initially interested in a mid-range device.

Cross-sell techniques, on the other hand, may focus on accessories or add-ons that make the customer experience with a specific product more satisfying. These complementary products raise the overall sale amount while increasing value for the buyer. A retail associate can suggest a laptop case, wireless mouse, or software to the laptop buyer.

Consider these other examples of upselling vs cross-selling for a variety of high-end products:

  • Fashion: some text
    • Upsell: Offer a limited-edition color or print from a favorite designer
    • Cross-sell: Offer a complementary pair of pants to go with the blouse they’re buying
  • Jewelry: some text
    • Upsell: Suggest a higher carat or quality stone for a custom ring
    • Cross-sell: Show them a set of earrings with the same gem stone as their new ring
  • Furniture: some text
    • Upsell: Offer an imported leather sofa instead of the fabric model
    • Cross-sell: Suggest a matching nightstand set to go with a dresser 
  • Cosmetics: some text
    • Upsell: Recommend a luxury skincare set with more items
    • Cross-sell: Recommend an eyeshadow set to go with a lipstick in the same color palette 

Understand the psychology behind upselling (and buying)

Shoppers want better value even if they plan to spend a lot on an individual item. They also prefer enhanced experiences that feel more personal and interactive. When a salesperson can effectively highlight the real benefits of additional features or a premium product, the buyer feels like they are being taken care of. The sales associate understands and appreciates their needs and desires. When done right, there’s a psychological and emotional bond that happens between the customer and the salesperson whenever these interactions occur.

Below are just a few examples to help unlock the psychology behind an upsell: 

Desire for enhanced value: Customers will spend more if they feel like they are getting a disproportionately higher quality or additional benefits.

Fear of missing out (FOMO): Limited time offers, exclusive products, or trendsetting items are easier to upsell to those who care about fashion.

Social proof: Some customers care about the ability to impress or become influential in their circle of friends and followers. This goes along with a psychological need for enhanced status.

Convenience or practical benefits: Luxury is not only about quality materials and fine features. It can also mean a life with less bother and time-consuming tasks. Upselling a product that offers more convenience makes sense. 

Upselling creates more value throughout the entire customer journey for both the retailer and the buyer themselves. In order to gently take advantage of the underlying psychological factors and succeed with this sales strategy, you must train your team and integrate smart technology.

Effective upselling takes careful team training

Clumsy upselling will do more to damage brand reputation and revenue than many other in-person sales techniques. Associates need to know about the physical products and other options available at all times, of course. Mentioning that something better exists is not enough to reap all the benefits.

They need to fully understand the psychological factors that go into every buying decision. Training this ability can include workshops and role-playing exercises with a variety of customer types and personalities. This will help them identify the whys behind each consumer’s decision-making process and shift their words and behavior to match.

Effective training for upselling should include the following:

  • Identification of upselling opportunities within the in-store customer experience
  • Delivery of natural and conversational pitches tailored to the individual shopper
  • Handling techniques for objections without “hard sell” methods
  • Ability to get to know the customer’s needs and wants quickly by asking questions
  • Methods to point out increased value from product features or alternatives
  • Skills with retail data and recommendation software

Technology boosts effective upselling and sales conversion rates

Client management software gathers and analyzes data to fuel better customization and opens the door to upsell opportunities. In some cases, the sales associates in the brick-and-mortar shop will have access to the CRM while they assist individual customers. This might work especially well for the younger generations who are more likely to prefer multi- or omnichannel experiences.

Clientbook improves every aspect of your brand’s overall marketing strategy, especially for the type of unique customer relationship building tasks necessary for success in upselling. The more a salesperson knows about the person buying the product in front of them, the easier it is to upsell in a way that provides true value to everyone.

If you’re ready to see how Clientbook can be the perfect sales assistant for your store, book a demo today.

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