Mastering the Art of the Up-Sell

by Ruben 3 Minutes

Wouldn’t it be great if each new client contract could bring in 25% more income – without going through the hassle of raising your rates? Best of all, you don’t have to twist your potential client’s arm to give you more money for your first project together.

So what’s the secret? It’s up-selling. Mastering the art of up-selling will help you add more value for your clients and boost your billing amounts for every new project that comes through.

What is Up-Selling – and What Isn’t?

When you up-sell, you offer additional products or services that compliment or complete the product or service that your new client is about to buy. It’s like a little cherry on top of a sundae – that little something extra that makes working with you a treat.


An up-selling offer should:

  • Be relevant to your original offer.
  • Be valuable to your client.
  • Be irresistible to say no to.

Think about the question “Would you like fries with that?” You’re asked this question at the end of every fast food order as an up-selling offer. Fries are relevant to buying a hamburger. They are valuable (who doesn’t love fries?) and they are delicious – which makes them irresistible. French fries are the perfect up-selling offer. If you can come up with something just as relevant, valuable and irresistible, you’ll be able to be just as successful with up-selling.

One more rule before we get into the specifics of up-selling.

Don’t confuse up-selling with cross-selling – they are two distinct things. When you’re cross-selling, you have more than one type of product that may be beneficial to your clients. In our fast food scenario, a cross-selling tactic would be giving customers a coupon to try a new chicken sandwich on their next visit. The cross-selling offer encourages customers to come back at a later time and try something slightly different.

Step by Step Up-Selling for Your Business

Now that you understand the difference between up-selling and cross-selling, it’s time to see how it can work for you in the real world.

Start by getting focused. When you offer your up-sell, you’re at a critical moment in selling the process. Your new client has already agreed to buy one product or service from you. Now you’re offering them something extra. If you push too much you might lose the entire sale. If you don’t offer enough, you may lose out on the extra income.

You need to select just one product or service for your up-sell offer. It’s not the time to show off your entire product line or list of services. That’s too overwhelming!

What one thing can you offer clients during that first purchase from you? Can you discount a related product or service? Can you offer a volume discount if they buy more now? Can you provide a combination package that includes your initial product or service plus something a little extra?

Here are some up-sell ideas you can adapt to your own business:

  • Offer more of the same for a lower rate (ie: 3 hours of consulting for the price of 2)
  • Offer digital training or guides (ie: step by step training videos for promoting a new website)
  • Third party deals (ie: a small business consultant offers a discounted branding package from a graphic designer)

Make sure that the product or service you select for up-selling is relevant to what your client is already buying. You don’t want to up-sell your consulting clients on a package that is similar to what they are already purchasing. If a client is buying your social media consulting services, don’t up-sell them on a press release package. Try a social media branding kit or a step by step guide to using social media tools.

Pick one idea and use that as your up-selling item for each and every purchase.

Once you’ve selected your “cherry” for your sundae, lay the groundwork with an excellent introductory process. Your initial consultation should help your potential client see what a great value you are. Highlight your strengths and help your client understand exactly how your solutions work.

Next, you should create a proposal that explains the benefits of what you do and what they’ll get from working with you. After you introduce your main product or service, list your up-sell right there in the proposal. This is a great way to streamline the process and keep things simple for your new client. They see how valuable you are, they see your original offer and they see the little extra that you’re adding to sweeten the deal.

You can create an “optional” item with your proposal to highlight your up-selling offer. List a few benefits based bullet points about your up-selling offer and list the normal price so your new client knows what a deal it is!

Up-Selling can be a great addition to sales process. No matter what type of business you’re in, you can find that cherry to top your sundae – and you’ll boost your bottom line!

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by Ruben
Ruben originally founded proposal software, Bidsketch as a one-person company while working as a software developer for a billion dollar payroll company. Since its early days as a “company of one,” Bidsketch has grown to help over 2,000 paying customers win billions of dollars in new business and save thousands of hours in the process.