May 20, 2016

Tips and Techniques for Effective Up-Selling in Retail


If you’re doing it correctly, up-selling can be one of the best and fastest ways to boost your profits, no matter what industry you are in. It’s particularly effective in retail, considering there’s always a good chance of getting your customers to spend more money than they initially planned on spending. That is, if you’re doing the up-selling correctly.

On a very basic level, there are two main ways to up-sell in retail: one is getting customers to buy additional products and the other getting them to buy more expensive products. For example – say you’re selling running shoes.

In a best case scenario, you are able to convince your customer to not only buy more expensive shoes than they came in looking to buy, you’re also making sure that they’re buying some new running pants and shirts to compliment the shoes.

But up-selling is easier said than done. It’s an art in and of itself, really. If you are interested in mastering the art of the upsell in retail, here are some winning techniques to practice.

filling needs

Filling Needs

One of the best pitches to use when up-selling is trying to determine what the needs of your customer are and then going above and beyond to meet them. Basically, it’s more of a problem solving approach – the customer has a problem and you want to provide them with the perfect solution.

The most important aspect of this approach is establishing and building rapport with the customer as soon as he or she enters your retail store. Ask them about what they are looking for and then listen attentively before acting. Let them explain their needs as fully as possible, don’t interrupt and offer solutions right away.

If you need more details, ask questions and try to get the full picture before offering a solution. Remember, if you rush to show them a product without having a firm grasp on what it is that they want exactly, you are likely to show them the wrong product. Forget about up-selling, if you jump to a conclusion and show them the wrong item right out the gate, you’re not going to sell anything.

Engage Them

How do you get to the bottom of their problem? Engage them. Get them talking. People love talking about their experiences, their wants and their problems. Make the customer feel comfortable and allow them to really open up and explain to you exactly what it is they are looking to purchase.

The longer your interaction, the more they will trust you as a retailer. And the more information you graft from the conversation, they better your chances will be of helping them find exactly what they want.

Lead Them

Once you’ve established the connection, you need to take the relationship to the next level if you want to get that extra revenue and complete the upsell. Continue the conversation, but start asking questions and making suggestions that will start leading the customer in the direction you would like them to head in. The more you know, the better you will be able to read the customer.

Let’s use the example of running shoes again. Ask them what kind of shoes they are currently running in. Ask them what they don’t like about their current pair. Ask if they have any issues or pains when running. Ask them for a ballpark number when it comes to how much they are looking to spend.

All of this information can be used to, in the end, coax them into buying the exact sneakers you want them to buy and maybe even throwing some additional products into the equation. With this wealth of information you now have, you are able to not only pitch the more expensive pair to the customer, you are able to back up your pitch and tell them why these would be the best option based on the information they willfully provided to you.


Bundling is all about offering greater value to your customer while making more money for yourself in the process as well. Bunding is a process that begins long before the products hit the floor, however.

Management needs to discuss bundling options and create “package plans” that the people on the floor can then use to upsell. When bundling, you are usually going to offer some type of special deals and discounts if the customer decides to add related products to his or her initial purchase.

Here’s an example pitch: Did you know that if you buy these (more expensive) running shoes, you can get half off on a tracksuit?

What you are doing is providing additional value to your customer while at the same time making them spend more money.

Example Pitch #2: You’re probably going to need new laces, some insoles and cleaning products for your new shoes eventually, but if you buy them all now, you’ll save money compared to buying all these products individually at a later date.

It’s all about showing value to the customer very clearly, making the proposition of spending more money almost logical and downright irresistible.



Accessorizing is similar to bundling, but not exactly the same thing. Accessorizing is a little tougher to do, but the upside is that if done right, it can be the biggest money-maker for you. The time to start this up-selling tactic is once the customer has already committed him or herself to making a purchase.

You already have your sale and they have already decided to spend some money at your retail store. Now it’s time to make a cool and collected final push to sell some more stuff to them while they are in the state of mind of being ready to spend.

Stick With Them

If your customer has already said “I’ll take it,” don’t just thank them and walk away. Escort them to the register and keep the lines of communication open as you travel. There are plenty of items on the way to the counter that you should be able to pitch to them.

Continue the conversation, keep asking questions and try to identify any other needs that the customer might have that you might be able to meet with another product your store carries.

If you aren’t able to tack on another item or two, that’s fine. Don’t force it. Up-selling is not easy and you’re not going to have a huge success rate no matter how good you are at it.

Make sure that you know when to back down. If you see that there’s no way you’re going to make additional sales, ease off. Keep smiling, escort them to the register and thank them graciously for shopping with you.


The golden rule of up-selling is not to be pushy. You don’t want to make the customer feel uncomfortable. You are not looking to guilt-trip them into making a purchase. You are not trying to make a sale at any cost.

Up-selling is all about turning an already good situation into an even better one. You’re not begging them to buy things from you. Up-selling is about establish a relationship, being patient, providing customers with useful and meaningful information, and trying to make a deal that is going to be beneficial for the both of you.