Don’t Upsell…Right Sell

theupsellWould you like to supersize your order?”

As I wrote previously (“Do You Want Fries With That?” – An Opportunity for Profitable Growth), upselling can bring additional value to our customers, create additional sales and profits, and cement our relationships with our customers.

Unfortunately, upselling has become abused as companies focus more on creating profits and less on adding value to the customer.

Upselling is a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.  [Wikipedia]

As customers, none of us “need” fries with our hamburger, and we certainly don’t need to supersize our order.  We are sold these to increase the company’s profits.

By contrast, right selling is focused on the customer and their needs and wants.  With right selling in the B2B (business to business) world, we make sure to sell the customer the right items and all the required add-on products and services to help the customer properly complete their project or job.

With right selling, we are focused on selling the customer everything that he or she needs to succeed.

As seen below, right selling can still create opportunities for additional sales, lock-in a long term relationship with our customer, and increase our profits.

The Normal Sale:

A customer walks into a home improvement store with a color sample of paint and asks for several gallons of paint in that exact color.  

“I can help you with that,” says the friendly employee.  

The employee quickly matches the color, mixes up the paint, asks the customer if he needs anything else, and then thanks him for the business.  

Ten minutes later, the customer has his gallons of paint and a few brushes.  

Another successful sale…?!?

The Right Sale:

A customer walks into a home improvement store with a color sample of paint and asks for several gallons of paint in that exact color.

“I’ll be happy to help you with that,” says the friendly employee.  “What are you working on?”

The customer responds: “My laundry room at home is painted red to match the washer and dryer the former homeowner used to have in there.  I want to change the color to have it match the paint color of our hallway.”

The employee: “With a darker color like red, you are likely to need a primer so that the red does not bleed through.  Can you give me a few more details about this project to help me understand exactly what you need?”

  • What is the size of the room? 
  • Do you need to change the color of the ceiling?  
  • What about the doors and the door frames?
  • ???

After getting all the details from the customer, offering additional tips, and matching the paint, the employee then asks specifically about what else the customer needs: Brushes in different sizes? Rollers? Paint pan? Paint thinner? Drop cloths? Masking tape? Plastic sheeting?…

Twenty minutes later, the customer walks out of the store with primer, two types of paint, and most of the additional items that the employee had asked about.

A win-win for both the customer and the store:

  • The customer now has some good tips on doing the project and all the items that he or she needs to complete the job successfully.
  • The store has a significantly larger sale and a satisfied customer who will, no doubt, come back to that store the next time he or she has a home improvement project!!


The key to a successful “right sale” is starting the discussion with the customer:

  • “What are you working on?”
  • “What is the problem that you are trying to solve?”

From this discussion, the effective salesperson then sells the customer all the right products or services that the customer needs to succeed.


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Business Acumen, Growth and Strategy, Sales and Marketing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Don’t Upsell…Right Sell

  1. Dan Phee says:

    Thanks Tarrie.

    This is good stuff

    Dan Phee, TEAM Wireless Chief Operating Officer Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer Cell: 906-280-7024

    ​ This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited

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