Upselling is a technique commonly used in product or service retail businesses. The goal is to get a customer to buy a bigger or more upscale solution by emphasizing the benefits of better quality, durability or versatility. While this strategy can increase revenue, it does have drawbacks and risks.

Pushy Perception

Upselling is an approach that involves walking the fine line between helping a customer and being pushy. If used correctly, upselling enhances your customer's experience because he benefits from the increased value derived from the bigger buy. If the the sales rep is too aggressive, has poor timing or doesn't ask questions before trying to push the more expensive product, he comes across as pushy. This is contradictory to efforts to retain customers and establish loyalty.


Related to the pushy perception, upselling isn't beneficial to the company or the customer if the increased price does not bring necessary or beneficial features to the sale. For instance, a cell phone customer who wants a phone only for emergencies wouldn't need the advanced gadgetry and technology available in elite smartphones. Upselling a customer when he has no benefit or need with the additional features ultimately makes him feel as though he overpaid.

Reverse of Downselling

An alternative approach to upselling is downselling, when the salesperson leads with his premium product and the highest price, setting a psychological precedent with the customer. The idea is that anything less expensive seems like a better value to the customer if he doesn't want all the features or doesn't have the budget. With upselling, you have to work up in price, which goes against the downselling psychology. To upsell, you have to convince the customer that the better value lies in a higher-priced solution, which means they pay above your lowest price point.

Employee Disdain

From a company perspective, upselling is not always appreciated by employees. If you pay employees on commission and selling is their primary role, upselling is a natural process. Some retailers have associates who sell as a component of providing customer service. If you ask someone to upsell when he isn't paid on commission and doesn't feel comfortable trying to get a customer to pay more, you won't see outstanding results. In essence, you have to motivate an employee if you want him to accept upselling as a responsibility.