According to AnnexCloud, nearly 65% of a company’s business comes from repeat clients–speaking to the importance of strengthening the ties with your existing business portfolio.

The more value your business brings to a client, the more loyal they’ll be. And more loyal clients are more likely to spread the word about your business and keep coming back for more.

There are different ways to accomplish this level of loyalty, but one of the savviest ways is through upselling. Thing is, upselling is easier said than done, and there are a lot of factors to consider before attempting to upsell.

Unless you consider these factors, you could end up turning the client away and negatively impact your business.

In this post, we explain what upselling is, why it’s important, and when to do it. We finish with a rundown of eight of the best upselling techniques used by the top sales managers–techniques that you can adopt immediately and use to your advantage.

Let’s dive in.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a common sales technique where a sales representative encourages the client they are speaking with to purchase more than they originally intended. When done well, upselling generates more revenue.

This very successful sales tactic is a great way to encourage upgrades, add-on services, and/or bigger-ticket purchases.

Why is upselling important?

Of course, upselling is important to every business’ bottom line. The more a business can upsell to its clients, the more revenue and profit that’s generated.

Upselling also helps sales teams meet and exceed goals/quotas. Since sales representatives are motivated by these goals, upselling is used to multiply sales results.

Beyond favorable financial benefits, upselling can strengthen client experiences and relationships if done correctly (see next section).

When a sales representative is familiar with the client they’re speaking with, they can use upselling to recommend upgraded products/services to help with additional pain points clients may not even know they have.

When should you upsell?

Timing is critical to upselling. You don’t want to come off as pushy and drive your clients away because they think you’re trying to manipulate them.

Upselling is most effective when:

  • The client is on the verge of purchasing your product/service;
  • The sales representative is confident about who the client is and what their interests/goals are;
  • The sales representative can justifiably explain how a higher-priced or advanced product/service will bring more value to the client.

Anytime you can make a client’s life easier, loyalty is created and future sales opportunities are maximized.

What’s the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

Cross-selling is another popular sales tactic that somewhat differs from upselling. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to make a distinction between both because their success rate changes based on the situation.

While upselling is the process of offering an upgraded product or service, cross-selling is the act of offering additional products or services that complement the one the client has already purchased or is looking to purchase.


Here are two scenarios that clearly distinguish between both selling techniques:

  • After getting a massage at a clinic, a massage therapist sells Client A a bundle to get massages twice a month for a year. This is an example of upselling.
  • Client B comes in to get their teeth cleaned, and a dentist sells them an electric toothbrush. This is an example of cross-selling.

So now that we’ve explained what upselling is, why it’s important, and when you should use it, we’ll jump into the eight best upselling techniques you can begin implementing today.

8 of the best upselling techniques used by sales professionals today

1. Extend the client relationship

Before you can effectively upsell, you must take the time to understand your clients and their individual needs. Once you know your clients’ values, you can identify which products and services will best meet their needs currently and down the road.


Take time to discuss with your clients what they want to gain from using your products or services. An example of how to do this is to create a chat system on your website to encourage clients to leave immediate feedback or ask any pertinent questions you can answer for them.

The key is to look for areas where the team can improve the client’s user experience. Here are a couple of questions that can start the conversation:

“How do you feel about the amount of time it takes you to________________?”

“How important is it to you to ________________?”

2. Pitch upsell options that are appreciated

Tying into the previous technique, once you understand the type of upselling your client would appreciate, it’s important to offer options that are in your clients’ best interests rather than yours.

In other words, try to put yourself in your client’s shoes to see how they could benefit from an upgrade rather than focusing on the money you could potentially bring in.

For example, if a client is looking to eat healthier, recommend that they buy your customized meal plan rather than your book about why healthy eating is important. They’re already locked into a healthier lifestyle, so offer the best ways to help them maintain it.

3. Use the reciprocity effect

Reciprocity is the process of exchanging offerings between two parties with the goal of mutually benefiting both parties. In terms of upselling, the best practice to leverage reciprocity is to offer free products or free service trials.

If a client gains value from the free product or a memorable experience from the free service, they’ll feel more obligated to buy something because you provided them something for free.

But this doesn’t mean you should make a habit of giving away products/services to everyone. Make sure to analyze your client data to be strategic with these decisions.

4. Use a Client Relationship Management system (CRM)

CRM systems allow companies to store and track client data. This typically includes information like demographics, sales history, and correspondence logs.

Using a CRM will arm your team with the insights they need to offer targeted upselling solutions. And since tailored upselling solutions work best, you’ll reap great benefits by implementing and digging through your CRM to uncover opportunities.

Here are a few questions you can ask clients when you have their data logged in a CRM: 

“I see here that you have previously used _____________ for ___________. Do you still feel confident that this [product/service] will achieve the results you’re looking for?

“How is your ___________ working? Did you know that a newer model is now available?  It has some new capabilities that may be of interest to you as a ___________. They include _______________.”

“As a leader of a small team, you may find ___________ useful as you navigate your new _________.”

5. Leverage on-hold systems

When clients are placed on hold, it is prime time to help boost and leverage any sales messaging your team might be using. Since a captivated audience is much easier to convert, use this time to pitch clients about possible upselling options.


Using this time allows you to initiate conversation and move to a position in which upselling can happen much more organically.

Some examples of on-hold upsell scripts include:

“Did you know that we offer ____________?  As a current client of ___________, you may find this new product/service especially useful with __________.”

“Ask us about our new ____________. It is the latest upgrade to our __________ [product/service] and is perfect for busy __________.”

6. Offer upselling incentives to sales representatives

Humans are naturally attracted to rewards and competition–especially those in sales.

Since sales representatives respond well to internal incentive programs, offering daily, weekly and monthly quotas, with prize levels attached, can help your team get into the upselling frame of mind.

The best part is that incentives don’t need to be fancy and expensive to be effective; creating goals that are achievable is the main objective. If you do the opposite and create goals that are harder to reach, you’re likely to demotivate sales employees.

For example, you could offer a free lunch to the first sales representative to get three upsells each week.

7. Don’t leave your clients hanging

It’s important to always keep in mind that upselling is still selling. Even though the goal is to provide more value to your clients, you can easily turn your clients off if you don’t continue a relationship with them after they’ve listened to your advice to upgrade.

Set reminders to reach out to a client a week after they’ve purchased an upgraded product/ service to see how it’s benefiting them. This is also a great chance to stay aware of further upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

8. Set realistic expectations

Upselling can be an attractive revenue generator, but it’s key to know when to pull back. Excessive sales tactics can have a polarizing effect, often leading to lost sales and possibly lost clients.

Finding the balance between being effective without abusing your upselling attempts can be a challenge, but following the tactics above puts you in the best position to upsell.

Wrapping up

Upselling can help your business grow its revenue, and it can play a huge role in long-term success. If you’re able to upsell and make your clients happier in the process, it’s a win-win situation.

Here’s a quick recap of the best upsell strategies:

  • Extend the client relationship: Identify which products and services will best meet your clients’ needs.
  • Pitch upsell options that are appreciated: Put yourself in your client’s shoes to see how they could benefit from an upgrade rather than focusing on the revenue potential.
  • Use the reciprocity effect: Offer favors to your clients to get favors in return.
  • Use a CRM: Collect and track client data that allows you to offer targeted upselling solutions.
  • Leverage on-hold systems: Use this time to pitch customers about possible upselling options.
  • Offer upselling incentives to sales reps: Implement upselling contests that motivate sales representatives.
  • Don’t leave your clients hanging: Stay in touch with clients after you’ve sold them an upgrade.
  • Set realistic expectations: Find the balance between being effective without abusing your upselling attempts.

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