The Up-selling Conundrum

It always amazes me that so many companies have a challenge when it comes to up-selling. At PSTC we’ve recently completed a national training project with some 500 attendees in the automotive space that provided a great example of what we call the ‘Up-selling Conundrum’.  More importantly, we’ve seen the results tiny changes can make to performance and can show you what to do about it.

You see the reason so many companies struggle with this area is simple. Too much focus on ‘how’ and not enough focus on ‘when’. Let me explain a little further…

The term ‘Up-selling’ kind of indicates that it’s something you do after you’ve made a sale, which I’m afraid to say is the worst possible time to offer your up-sells.


Because if you don’t make a sale, at the end of that call, the potential customer will want to get off the phone pretty quick as opposed to sticking around while you try to sell them more. It can be tough to try and sell to the trail of smoke where your customer once stood!

In an inbound call handling environment you need to remember one thing – you are in complete control of this phone call until a certain point. The point at which you provide the Prospect with the prices or quote that they had called in to request.

At this point we tend to pass control of the conversation to the customer so trying to upsell after this point is not the best way to go. It has to be before.

So what’s the answer?

Well, it’s simple really. You need to offer your up-sells at the point between taking the customers requirements and fulfilling them by providing the prices or quotes they’ve requested.

You also need to clearly demonstrate the value; the ‘What’s in it for me’, and present Prospects with attractive offers or up-sells relatively early, while you can guarantee that you get the chance to do so and retain control of the call. Make sure your ‘ask’ is very clear too.

While I’m looking that up for you…..’

‘Have you also considered…..’

‘It’s worth looking at…’


‘….can I quote you on that as well?’

‘….shall I add that on for you?’

If your organisation struggles with up-selling it’s worth looking at the timing and how you convey the value of the up-sells you offer to your customers. More often than not, simply by tweaking our Sales Processes and ensuring our teams are pitching up-sells before quoting customers on their requirements, you’ll see economies of scale take effect where we become more effective at offering up-sells at the right times, therefore pitch them more often, and subsequently get more ‘Yes’ responses.


You won’t close every customer on the requirements they called in for, but everyone loves a good deal, so you should always try to make the most of every call and ensure you’re consistently offering your best deals and up-sells on all appropriate inbound calls.

I’m not talking about using a script. Utilising an effective repeatable process that provides structure to calls is a good way to go but please ensure you also allow your team to work autonomously with it.

It’s also worth noting that up-selling is a numbers game. There are no silver bullets I’m afraid and not everyone will take you up on your offering. The key thing is that consistently offering up-sells at the right time is one those small actions that add up to big results when you look back at product revenue across your team for the last 6 months.

Up-selling Early

Here’s something else to consider – Up-selling, Sales or Customer Service?

If you work in an environment with technical products or large volumes of different products (catalogue based etc) it’s worth baring in mind one thing.…

You are the experts when it comes to your products. Nobody else, so it’s your duty to ensure your customer is getting things right. Making sure your customer is making the best-informed decisions, in my book, is customer service all day long.

The onus is not on you here, I can’t stress that enough. I mean let’s face it, if something goes wrong with their order, whatever it may be, there’s a 99% chance it’s coming back on you regardless!  So always best to ask and not assume to be sure.

Let’s look at a couple of examples….

A prospect phones in for a home insurance quote. Their garden is part of the property and to ensure the best protection, garden cover should be offered to protect outdoor items. This is directly relevant to their enquiry so we’d class this as a ‘Primary up-sell’. In offering it, you provide great service through making sure the customer’s requirements are comprehensively met all round and a by-product of providing that great service is increased revenues from other products.

Similarly, if someone calls into your garage after the price of a clutch kit and we don’t advise them that they will require stretch bolts to fit it, when they strip the car down and realise they can’t complete the job, it’s safe to say they’re going to look at the experience as bad customer service.  Think about it from the customers’ point of view….

Whether you regard yourself as a Sales Person or not, up-selling is part of a great customer experience and should really fall under everyone’s remit.  Timing is everything.  Feel free to get in touch with a member of our team if your company needs some help.

Pete Stuckey

PSTC provide game changers for companies of all sizes specialising in, Sales Training, Sales Outsourcing Solutions and Sales Consultancy Services for companies big and small. If you need help optimising your sales process or systematising your sales function, talk to us for objective advice.

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