5 Simple Upsells and Downsells That Drive Higher Profits

Offers change depending on your audience, but the money still flows.

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By Brian T. Edmondson

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Would you like fries with that?

These are the iconic words every teenager who worked at McDonald's in the late 80s and early 90s said to every customer. This was before value meals and back when everything was ordered à la carte. "Would you like fries with that" was also my first exposure to the power of upsells.

Related: How to Make Big Bucks While Selling Your Products for Free

If you take a look around, upsells are everywhere. In grocery stores, they are the rack of candy bars and trashy magazines. In fast food places, they are the $1 sundaes. In high-end stores, they are the pair of socks to go with those shoes.

There is a reason that nearly every business uses upsells. It's often the difference between profit and loss; the difference between success and failure. And while we are looking at upsells, we are also going to tackle the downsell, which you don't see as often, but can put a ton of money into your bottom line.

So let's look at upsells and downsells and how they work in both online and offline businesses. Surprisingly enough, these are often very similar, because no matter what you are selling, the philosophy remains the same -- when your customer is in a buying mood, you want to offer them something else they may be interested in. Because that is when they are most likely to buy.

Now what you offer them may change depending on what you're testing and what business you are in, but here are some examples and rules of thumb when it comes to upsells and downsells.

1. Keep your upsell tightly related to your original product (or offer more of your original product at a discount).

Whether you sell physical products, services, information or some combination, keeping your upsell offer tightly related to the original offer will always result in more sales.

A good example of this came with a TV I recently bought. As I was taking it out of the package, I noticed the TV has a limited extended warranty card included in the top. This isn't unusual, but how the company positioned it was. They called it a "one-time only offer" and gave it an expiration date for scarcity. I didn't take them up on it personally, but if even a small percentage of people do, then this adds significantly to the company's bottom line.

Interestingly, if you are selling lower-end physical products (products under around $50) then offering more of the exact same item at a discount often works very well.

Related: 3 Ways Selling Less Helps Your Business Grow More

2. Test price points, both higher and lower.

Don't assume that you will make the most money from a high-end upsell. There is a reason that shoe companies offer socks and grocery stores offer candy bars. These things are relatively inexpensive and have a high take rate. So while you may not get as much per sale, you may get a lot more sales and make more money.

If you sell a product or service that can benefit from a low cost add-on, it is certainly worth testing.

3. Test downsells.

There are a couple of ways to do downsells. The first is to offer a different and lower priced item after your customer rejects the first upsell. The second is to offer the same item at a slightly lower price with bonuses.

Both methods work, and both are worth testing. If you use the second method, the best bonuses are ones you can deliver digitally. Think a complimentary course, whitepaper or PDF.

4. Consider a "problem solving done for you" service.

This is a fantastic option for coaches and consultants. Lots of times, people will come to you for help with a specific issue, and when you give them advice they'll ask, "can you just do it for me."

If you have a ready made solution that works, or that you can refer them to for a commission, you can make a lot of extra money with an upsell offer like this.

5. Don't be afraid of pricey offers.

I've talked a lot about lower-end offers here, and they work well. But sometimes a more expensive, high-end offer can work just as well, if not better. It depends a great deal on your audience and market. Now, there has to be value in this upsell, and you have to serve a clientele who can afford it.

Related: How to Sell Anything to Anyone by Telling Great Stories

But if, for instance, you are a wedding consultant, offering a special, premium white glove service to your high-end clients can add a lot to your bottom line. People who have money are willing to pay for luxury. Think of offers you can make that have good margins and promote that luxury feeling.

Upsell offers can easily be the difference between making money and not making money in a business. Craft, test and refine yours to increase the revenues and profits in your business.

Brian T. Edmondson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Online Business Strategist

Brian T. Edmondson helps entrepreneurs start, build, and grow online businesses. He is the founder of Internet Income Coach, a digital marketing training and education company.

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