Which bottom-line booster is right for you: Upsale or Upscale?

The sales strategy of upselling is fundamental to business, and there are various ways it can be accomplished.

When a customer is making a purchase, the sales rep can suggest additional items that would complement the core purchase. Another common approach is to find a more expensive item that better fits the customer’s requirements.

Any of these strategies would fall under the category of the upsale. But, in addition to this, there is another way to upsell and it can go beyond the incremental upsale. I’m talking about “upscaling” your offerings.

This merchandising and marketing strategy has many applications. In the classic upsale setting, you could suggest a better-known, more upscale brand to your customer. This would increase the size of your tickets and pump more dollars to your bottom line.

The upscale strategy

Upscaling your offerings can be a more generalized strategy, and it applies to virtually any business – from vacuum cleaner stores to coffee shops. In this setting, the idea is to feature or deal exclusively in the upscale, more desirable brands.

To go back to my examples, the vacuum cleaner store might specialize in Miele vacuums, the coffee shop might offer Cinnabon rolls instead of generic pastries.

By carving out a business with a more upscale focus, you do two things: You piggy back on the upscale company’s marketing and you make it easier to define and find your customers.

I doubt I’ve touched on your industry, so ask yourself this question, “Who makes the Cadillac of (whatever you sell)?”

Many of you are probably thinking that you need to offer a wide variety of price points to satisfy the needs of your customers. Don’t accept that logic without careful examination. Specialization always leads to higher margins. Trying to satisfy everyone can be very frustrating. How do you market yourself when you want to appeal to virtually the entire world?

The marketing advantage

Let me elaborate on one part of this strategy: Taking advantage of a well-known brand’s marketing.

Hunt Brothers Pizza is mostly sold in convenience stores in the Southeast and Midwest. The company does a lot of advertising and is often featured at professional sports venues and broadcasts. Adding a high-profile brand like this to your lineup will lead to additional sales.

In this example – a convenience store – adding pizza is doing the opposite of specialization, but after all, that’s really what a convenience store is all about. The point I want to make is that some of the risk of adding an upscale offering is lessened when the offering has already established a good reputation for itself.

Finally, remember that upselling isn’t merely a technique to teach your sales staff, it is something that can be accomplished by upscaling the products and services that you sell.