4 Simple Steps for Upselling Your Customers

Upselling is vital to leveraging more sales with your existing customers? Apart from simply asking for more business, the goal is to develop or reinforce your relationship with key contacts in the account. From that you gain the intelligence you need to maximize sales with your customers.

Here is a four-step strategy to intelligently upselling to your customers:

1. Select your primary contact(s) in each account

Start by separating your active accounts from inactive accounts. Then verify the accuracy of your contact info for each active account. Inactive one’s you may need to resurrect (but that’s a different article). You may have multiple contacts within an active account, so include those folks as well. Prioritize your primary contact, highest ranking contact or the one with whom you have the best relationship. This will be your first person to contact.

2. Rate the quality of relationship that you have with each contact

You might use a simple relationship rating system like: 1= poor to 5 = excellent. However you rate your customer relationships, be sure you have a defined system to evaluate and rate each person. Next, determine how much time and effort should go into upgrading your relationship or maintaining what you already have. Here are a few questions you should ask your customer:

  • How would you rate the quality of service you’ve received from us?
  • What do we do well?
  • What would you like to see changed?
  • How can we increase our value to you?

3. Determine the level of business you’re doing with each

While interviewing your customers, ask about the amount of business you’re doing with them based on their overall spend. Are you 5% of their total spend? Are you 25%? This is where the quality of relationship comes into play. The better the relationship, the more trust they have in you, the more info they will tend to disclose. Here are some good upselling questions to ask your customers:

  • What products/services like ours are you buying from your other vendors?
  • How much are you buying from your other vendors?
  • What is your decision-making process about changing vendors?
  • What initiatives do you have coming up where we might need to be involved?


After each customer meeting, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much upside sales potential is there in this account?
  • Is it worth me pursuing?
  • Who is my competition?
  • How can I distinguish myself from the other vendors who sell to my customer?

4. Prioritize your top contacts and your strategy

Do this based on the quality of relationship and the upside potential. Here are three examples:

  • Good relationship with minimal upside potential – In this case you have a solid relationship, but you’ve already sold them about as much as they can buy. There’s minimal upside potential. Your focus should be on maintaining that account against competitors. Therefore, continue to reinforce the relationship.
  • Low-quality relationship with good upside potential – If you don’t have a strong relationship with a customer that has strong upside potential (i.e. you represent only 10% of their office supply or IT services spend each year), then work to develop the relationship first and then earn more of their business over time.
  • Good relationship with good upside potential – This is the ideal scenario. You’ve worked hard to develop trust with the customer. Perhaps you haven’t been a vendor long enough for them to turn over more of their business to you. Now is the time to set a strategy meeting and gain more intelligence on their future plans and areas where you can provide them more value and expand your service offerings to them.


Upselling is critical to increasing sales. However, value must be at the core of your customer interactions. Use this process to help guide your strategy for delivering more value to your customers and more revenue for you.