Cash When You Need It: Upselling

dollar bills

As you sit at your computer, scratching your head, wondering where the next sale will come from, consider your existing clients. They’re already buying from you, and if they’ve had a good experience, they’ll likely buy again. Upselling is the act of offering a customer an upgrade, an add-on, or another product. When you shop online for a new bathing suit, and at checkout you’re offered a matching beach wrap and sandals, that’s upselling. When you hire a company to design your new website, and they offer you a logo for an additional fee, that’s upselling.

As the owner of a Web consultancy, I draw from personal experience to illustrate certain concepts. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Love your list. Centralize your customer list in one place. If they’re not listed, with contact details, in a spreadsheet or customer relationship management service like, you’re wasting your precious time. As the owner of a Web consultancy, I store all of our customers’ information in system called called Basecamp. On slower months, by simply reaching out to dormant clients, within 10 phone calls I, on average, uncover at least 2 new website enhancement projects. While these projects aren’t the most profitable, they’re critical to making payroll on slower months.
  2. Offer options. Hone or develop up to three services or add-ons your customers are already looking for. By giving them more than one option, perhaps they’ll engage in the “which one?” conversation, over the “should I buy it or not?” conversation. In web services, examples of upselling include social media planning, search engine marketing, and blogging services.
  3. Phone or email? Upselling to 20 clients versus 2,000 customers requires different tactics. If your list contains 20 customers, consider setting up a phone meeting to “check in and talk about how things are going.” If you have 2,000 customers, package your offerings in a mass email to open conversation with those who click-through or reply.
  4. Bill immediately. Finding new sales opportunities is often easier than you think. It’s closing the deal, and collecting the money, that’s far more challenging. As soon as my company closes a new project, we immediately invoice for 50% of the total cost. It firms up the deal and triggers cash flow.
  5. Procrastinating? The idea of selling can feel nauseating. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a rising corporate star, you have to learn how to sell (where it’s about selling yourself and your value). That’s the joy of upselling — you’re cultivating new revenue opportunities from an already receptive audience. Timid about getting started? Start by reaching out to past customers simply to “check in.” Before you know it, they’ll be telling you all about what else they need from you, and voila, more sales.

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