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How to Upsell Online


The up-sell is a classic sales technique that salespeople use to increase their earnings. It has been used successfully offline for as long as anybody can remember, and marketers have figured out some techniques that work online as well.

Up Selling is a vital part of internet marketing - don't leave money on the table!

Up Selling is a vital part of internet marketing – don’t leave money on the table!

The Anatomy of the Upsell

Here’s how it works: You go to a nice restaurant and order the salmon. You ask the waiter for a bottle of wine to go with it. They ask what kind you’d like and you tell them you’re not sure. What goes with salmon? They suggest a premium wine and just like that, you’ve been upsold.

Or here’s a really common upsell – ‘Would you like fries with that?’

The idea is that you offer an enhancement, upgrade or add-on to a purchase. It’s important to clarify here – you’re not selling them another product, but an addition to the one they’ve already purchased. Offering a different product is called cross-selling.

Upselling Online

Your head is probably already spinning with possibilities. For most online products, it’s not too hard to think of ways you can enhance the purchase. But let me give you a few examples:

– The customer buys your info product. For a couple of dollars more, you offer a membership to your premium site.

– Offer various membership plans for your service or product. With the more expensive plans come more features and benefits.

– You’re an online service provider and for each purchase from you, you offer a related service at a drastically reduced price.

The idea is to give them something more for their purchase that relates to your product – or more specifically, relates to their needs.

Customer Behaviour

The key to successful upselling is to watch a customer’s behaviour. A salesperson will watch the customer browse various items in the store. If they linger at a certain product, the salesperson may try to upsell them that particular product after they’ve bought something else.

You can do the same thing by watching customer behaviour. Use tools to track the products particular users view on your website. You can then offer them at a reduced price when they’re ready to check out (you’ll notice Amazon does this).


The challenge online is getting their attention. You don’t have a salesperson right there interacting with them. One way to offer an upsell online is through the pop-up window. This is a window that appears when they make their purchase asking if they’d like to upgrade to a better product or purchase an add-on.

Ask people whether they pay attention to pop-ups and you’ll get a resounding ‘No!’ People will tell you that they hate them. But if you look at the analytics, it’s a fact that they raise conversion rates, so somebody out there likes them!

 Focus on the Upsell

The upsell you’re planning to give the customer should be planned well ahead of time. Your upsell products and calls to action urging them to enhance their purchase should appear on every page and on every screen throughout the process of purchasing. Again, this is because your salesperson isn’t there with them. They need to be bombarded with it.

Finally, upsells work only if they’re high quality, valuable and relevant to the buyer. Make sure it’s something they really want and they’ll buy it.

Toby Russell

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