Want to Boost Your Revenue-per-Customer? Do This


When it comes down to it, there are only 3 ways to grow a business. 

  1. Get more customers to buy from you (self-explanatory)
  2. Get existing customers to buy more often (increasing lifetime value)
  3. Get customers to spend more when they buy (increasing average order value)

Most business advice you’ll see online focuses on #1, and sometimes #2. But it’s that last one I want to talk about today — for a couple of reasons.

First off, there’s already a ton of material out there on customer acquisition and retention, including on our own blog! And secondly, increasing your revenue per sale is probably the fastest and simplest way to grow your business right now.

That’s worth talking about, don’t you think?

A new acquisition or retention strategy takes time to implement, and might not show ROI for weeks or even months after that. By contrast, if you apply the strategy I’ll show you in this article, you’ll be able to see the impact on your bottom line pretty much immediately!

And what’s that strategy, I hear you ask?

One word: upselling.



What is upselling?

Upselling works like this: when a customer buys something from you, you put an additional offer in front of them that complements, enhances, or expands on what they want to purchase. That’s it!

Upselling is a super simple but incredibly powerful method to generate more revenue from each sale you make. Companies in every industry use it — from fast food (“Would you like fries with that?” is an upsell) to ecommerce, consulting, travel… you name it.

Your business can benefit from upselling, too. But right now, you probably have some questions about that, like:

  • What should your upsell even be?
  • And how can you implement it successfully?

Read on, and I will show you 5 types of proven upsells that you can adapt to your business. And at the end, I will give you 4 guiding principles on how to implement upselling successfully, so you can start generating additional ROI from sales.

Let’s dive in!


5 types of upsells that convert

No matter what industry you’re in, you can create a successful upsell in at least one of these categories.

Feel free to read through them all, and then choose 1-2 that sound like they would be a good fit for your brand. And after that, we’ll talk about how to implement your upsell the right way!


1. Upgrade

If your product or service has different tiers of value, offering your customer an upgrade is the most straightforward upsell you could implement.

For example, if you sell software, and they are signing up for the Basic plan, you can give them the option to go up a level during checkout — at a discount. If there’s ever a scenario when discounting makes sense, this is it!

Also, here’s something you want to keep in mind: don’t assume that the customer will jump at the opportunity just because it’s there. Show them how much value they’re about to get! Make sure to highlight the benefits of upgrading and emphasize how much money they’ll save.


2. Extension

In the same fashion, if your product or service is recurring (e.g. a monthly subscription), give your customer the option to commit to it for longer — say, 3 months, 6 months, a year etc. Once again, you can add a discount to make the deal a no-brainer, or throw in a free bonus.

Depending on your industry and offer, you might even offer a lifetime option! For example, gyms do it — because they know that the extra revenue will far exceed the long-term costs of doing this. But you can apply this tactic to SaaS or any other market with similar dynamics.


3. Similar items

This type of upsell is the go-to in the ecommerce world, but it can work for any business with a suite of different products, physical or digital.

The principle behind it couldn’t be simpler: whenever a customer buys something, offer them another item that complements, enhances, or is “similar but different” to what they chose.

Here are some examples off the top of my head:

  • A customer is choosing earrings for a gift to their partner. In the process, the vendor also shows them a pendant and a bracelet that match and complement the earrings.
  • A customer wants to buy an exercise bike without a heart rate monitor. During checkout, it shows up as a recommended purchase. It enhances and complements their order.
  • A customer orders a bottle of wine online. On the product page, they are shown a few other wines they might like — similar… but different. 

This type of upsell is incredibly versatile, but it does require you to deeply understand and anticipate your customer’s needs. Not to mention, you have to know your offers inside and out, and know how they synergize with one another!


4. Value-added service

This type of upsell can work for both product-based and service-based businesses. The underlying mechanics are very simple (are you noticing a theme yet?) — figure out what you can do to help a new buyer to make the most of your offer, and turn it into an upsell!

For example:

  • If you sell enterprise software, you could offer a consulting service to help your customer configure it to their exact business needs, or migrate from their previous solution.
  • If you provide web design work on a retainer basis, you can also sell SEO services as a value-add on top of your standard package.
  • If you ship physical products that require installation, you can add white-glove delivery and installation for an extra fee.

Mind you, some of the time your customers will be wondering: “Why do I have to pay extra for this? Can’t you do it for free, since I’m already paying you?” When that happens, you need to be ready to show the value of what you’re providing — so they know it’s worth the extra investment.


5. Bundling / packaging

Finally, if a product or service you sell is part of a bundle or package, and a customer wants to buy it standalone… give them the option to purchase the whole thing! Feel free to offer them a discount to make the deal more appealing.

When you upsell someone on a whole suite of products or services, it becomes very easy to demonstrate how much value they’re getting. Just make sure to do more than just list all the stuff they’re about to own — always connect each element of your bundle or package to specific benefits and results your customer is after.


How to implement upselling in your business — the right way

OK, now that you’ve settled on a type of upsell you want to do, the question is: how do you incorporate it into your business model?

Well, every company, and every sales process, is different — so it’s impossible to give you a one-size-fits-all blueprint on how to implement upselling successfully (as much as I’d love to).

So instead, I’ll give you 4 guiding principles on what makes an effective, high-converting upsell. Keep them in mind when you’re designing your upselling offer, and you’ll get great results!

Now, in order for your upsell to be compelling, you need to make it…



Ensure that your upsell aligns with the main offer your customer is considering, as well as their needs and goals.

So, for example, if you have a terrific product that sells like hotcakes and everybody loves… if it’s not relevant to what your customer is purchasing right now, or doesn’t match their preferences, don’t include it as an upsell.



It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway:

The more valuable your upsell is, the more likely it is to convert.

When in doubt, always go with the option that will make the biggest positive impact on your customer’s life.

For example, an extended warranty on a product might be highly profitable for you… but how much value does it really add for the buyer? Probably not a lot! So instead, try offering something else — like white-glove delivery, an ongoing subscription, a similar item, or even a digital course that will help them make the most of the product.



As a rule of thumb, you don’t want your upsell to be more expensive than whatever your customer is buying. “Thank you for buying these noise-canceling headphones — would you also like a helicopter?” doesn’t work!

The additional investment your customer needs to make should be around 20-50% of the original order value.

That said, this isn’t set in stone — like I said, it’s just a rule of thumb! You can have high-value upsells that match or exceed the original price (especially if you’re a service-based business)… 

…but you’d better be able to demonstrate that value in a compelling way!



And finally, your upsell should be impossible to misunderstand.

Remember: this is the kind of offer you make right before, or during the sale — it’s not the time for fine print and vague terms!

The faster your customer knows what they’ll get and how it will benefit them, the better. If you get bogged down in details, ifs and buts, you’ll squander their buying momentum and might even lose the sale altogether!

“Would you like fries with that?” is the perfect example of a simple, straightforward upsell that’s designed to get an instant yes or no. Now, you probably aren’t selling fast food, but it’s still a good idea to strive for total clarity no matter what industry you’re in.


Want to get more proven sales techniques and strategies?

Check out some of our other content on how to sell and persuade customers with integrity and confidence! Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Closing on Your Warm Lead — Backstage Business #38 — a solo podcast episode all about selling!

Marketing and Selling with Integrity in Times of Crisis — an essential read, especially for these pandemic times.

Selling the Negative: How to Boost Sales by Focusing on What’s Wrong with Your Offer — a counter-intuitive sales technique you might not have considered.

How to Sell Anything to Anyone: a Simple 3-Step Process — if you don’t like sales but you need to get good at them, this is the article for you.