Tuesday, 17 March 2020 15:17

When They Win, You Win: How to Upsell to Clients

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The art of upselling is a skill to be developed and nurtured. It is a soft technique where the seller persuades the client to buy a more expensive product instead or add on a product or service to make the sale more profitable. It is, in essence, taking the person from one price point to another with the client seeing the direct benefit of paying more. Cross-selling and upselling do have differences; specifically, upselling is an upgrade, while cross-selling is the addition of a related product or service. While technically different, it is easier to group them both together under the banner of upselling in the cosmetic industry.

The skill of upselling is a delicate balancing act, as no one enjoys being sold to in an aggressive manner. The spa is an ideal environment to perfect this soft persuasion of a beneficial upsell. The relationship with the client has already been established and there is an element of trust. According to the book “Marketing Metrics,” the probability of selling to a new client is 5% to 20%, whereas selling to an existing client is as high as 60% to 70%. Another benefit is that it is an educated sell to an existing client who is already in the environment looking for self-improvement and beauty advice. This is much easier than a cold sale to a new person. The takeaway point is if the upsell is done with the client’s benefit at heart, it is so much easier because the approach is more genuine. (Relationships are key and clients in a spa environment are the most important relationship.)

A restaurant or fast food outlet is an ideal example of a place to experience an effective and subtle upsell. When placing an order, you most often hear these familiar questions: “Do you want fries with that? Any sides? A starter?” This is classic upselling.


Factors to consider when upselling


Tailor the Upsell to the Client

Whether they have bought from you in the past or not, the data you collect from clients can shed some light on their purchasing habits. If they have been consistently looking for the latest and greatest (like a newly released procedure or serum) they are likely looking for quality over value. It would make more sense to recommend other newer or higher-end products rather than low-cost alternatives. The same applies if someone is always looking for a deal; here, a two-for-one or a sale item could be the nugget. Understand the individual client.


Make the Upsell Relevant to the Client’s Original Purchase

If they buy an eye serum, try to get them to pre-purchase an eye treatment (with a percentage off the full price) or add an eyelash enhancement serum.


Discount the Upsell

This will accentuate the value proposition even more.


Take Advantage of Opportune Times

Make the upsell directly at the time of the original purchase. It is possible to sell future services at the same time as a single product purchase. Again, discount the future service so the value is there. The other option is to offer a repeat discounted purchase of the same product, like a membership renewal. Build repeat sales by offering the same product to be shipped out to the client every two months at a discount with free shipping. You can also offer a treatment every four weeks at a discounted price when purchased in a pack of multiples.

Another effective time to upsell clients is when they have achieved a milestone. After they have been a paying customer for a period of time (10 facials, for example), consider offering them a special discount on a service or product as a recognition for their loyalty. This goes a long way to build a deeper relationship. This is similar to the coffee shop loyalty programs where the 10th cup is free. The difference here is that it is just a discounted service or product.


Solve a Problem

If the client buys makeup, they might also need a makeup remover. If a client buys a face wash, they might make good use of a mechanical face wash tool.


Eliminate Risk

Have samples, free returns for products not opened, and reviews of products and services.




There are also many great upselling opportunities if the spa has an online store. Most e-commerce platforms have either built-in upselling features or plug-in apps that can be added to upsell intelligently and automatically. These apps will typically offer a cross-sell on the shopper’s cart page, which uses data from past shoppers to suggest items which are frequently purchased together. The example of purchasing both makeup and makeup remover applies just the same in the digital world. Upselling apps can also be programmed manually to offer specific items when the cart reaches a certain dollar amount.

There are also e-commerce apps that encourage clients to add more to their cart in order to reach a free shipping threshold.


Upselling is an easy way to increase your average order value and, like any tool, it must be used intelligently. Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer puts upselling into perspective when he describes it as helping a client win: “Tell me how I win. When I win, you win.” Loyal clients are worth keeping and should be rewarded for being regular and consistent, rather than annoyed and driven away. Never sell to an angry or upset client.

In the end, even though it has been proven to be easier to sell to existing clients, only sell to them when upselling will help them improve and reach new, beneficial goals.



Janine Ellenberger


Dr. Janine Ellenberger is a medical doctor with an entrepreneurial spirit skilled in integrating medical acumen into multiple health and wellness industries. Driven by a strong sense of mission and purpose to help improve wellness, the power of knowledge in overcoming health obstacles is key to her focus. She is currently the CEO of GR8 Skincare – a physician formulated skin care line integrating the best of science and nature. www.gr8skn.com



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