What Are the Different Types of up-Selling Techniques?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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Up-selling techniques can include offers of upgrades, exchanges, related products, or special services. All of these methods increase the value of a purchase the customer is already planning to make. Clerks and other personnel working directly in sales and customer service may receive training in up-selling techniques as part of their orientation at a new job. They can also develop and refine their methods through workshops, professional publications, and other tools.

Each opportunity for up-selling must be tailored to the needs of the individual customer. The clerk needs to think about the purchase and the buyer's demeanor to gauge the level of interest in additional products and services. Some customers may be alienated by aggressive sales tactics and discretion can smooth the sale as the client is made aware of additional options that may not have been evident before.

Sales of related products are a common example. When a customer buys a cell phone, for example, the salesperson might offer a protective case or screen, carrier, and other products related to the phone. The clerk can stress the benefits that these offer to the customer, such as protecting the phone in daily use. Extended warranties are another example, where customers are encouraged to pay a small fee for the warranty at the time of purchase to have access to service and replacement coverage.


Another tactic is a substitution or exchange. These up-selling techniques involve suggesting that a customer might prefer a more expensive product because of the added benefits. At a restaurant, for instance, when diners ask for water, the waiter can ask if they prefer still or sparkling. This method can encourage a purchase of bottled water, as the diners may be reluctant to specify that they want tap water.

Upgrades may allow the customer to immediately enhance a product for a small additional cost. Computer retailers sometimes use this tactic to encourage people to buy additional software when they get a computer system. The clerk can offer to install the upgrade on site for no additional cost. As with other up-selling techniques, stress may be placed on the convenience to the customer, and the salesperson may frame it as a long-term savings even though the immediate cost is higher. For instance, it may be less expensive to buy software as part of a new computer package than on its own.

Special services can also be employed in up-selling techniques. Some companies offer visits from service technicians for a flat fee at the time of purchase. The buyer may appreciate the added security and assurance of future product support.


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