Upsell Tips and Tricks to boost sales and improve customer loyalty

We're in January, traditionally a slow month for retail so I thought I'd write about some of the things I've done in the past to increase average ticket price and bolster customer loyalty. Hopefully you will be able to use them boost your sales for a great start to the new year. Much of my expereince comes from working at Domino's Pizza and in bars and restaurants. It may not be applicable to every situation or business but I hope there are some basic principles that you can take away from it to improve your business and grow sales with your team.

Approach upselling with the right attitude

First things first. For me, upselling isn't about screwing your customers out of money. A strategy like that isn't going to pay off in the long run. If you make your customers feel violated they aren't going to want to come back. Yes, upselling is about increasing profitability but it should do so while improving your customers' overall experience by adding items that are appropriate for them.

As I have always understood it, there are four basic building blocks that grow sales:

  • Never lose a customer
  • Aquire new customers
  • Increase order price
  • Increase order frequency

Appropiate upselling allows you to target all of these areas in various ways. The most obvious one is increasing order price. If you can add items to an order your average ticket price is going to increase. But upselling can also help in those other areas by more generally making the customer feel valued. It doesn't work in isolation, a good product and great service all work together to establish how much a customer values your brand and thus how much they are willing to spend with you.

The Two-Point Upsell

The Two-Point method, in my opinion, is the best tools you can use to bolster you sales. Simply, you give the customer two opportunities to accept the upsell. Once with an initial question, and again when you confirm their answer after providing them a little more detail. Below are two examples;

Customer: Please could I have a vodka and coke?
You: No problem, would you like a single or a double?
Customer: Single please.
You: Are you sure? A double is only an extra pound.

Regardless of any upwell you achieve the customer has at very least ordered a single vodka and coke. The labour cost has already been included in the initial sale. Any upsell will be more profitable because you only have to account for material costs of the upsell, in this case, another measure of vodka. This method worked particularly well when I worked at 256 because was a student bar. Students are traditionally price sensative and made up prodomently of a generation that is socially accepting of double unit sales. This is not necessarily the best focus for all enviroments. At Wildfire, a midrange Grill, Tapas and Bar instead of focusing on singles/doubles I would usually ask them if they had a preference for their spirit with the opportunity to sell a premium spirit over the house ones. I

Lets take a look at a different example from my time at Domino's. This is taken almost verbatim from Jenny, one of the managers I had the pleasure of working with, so kudos to her.

When you're about to wrap up the order.

You: Would you like a Garlic Pizza Bread or Potato wedges with your order? Customer: No thank you. You: Are you sure? I do it for you for only two pounds if you like.

In this example, Garlic Pizza Breads and Potato Wedges were usually priced at £3.50 but we were able to reduce it to £2 for the chance to upsell. Use appealing words such as only two pounds and asking them 'are you sure' makes them momentarily reconsider their decision giving you the chance to secure that sale.

In both examples you give the customer two opportunities to accept your offering. Be sure to acknowledge the tone of your customer when you're dealing with them. If there initial response is fairly assertive, i.e. "no thank you, that's everything for me", that is a clear indication that customer will likely find any further prompts are to be an irritation. As I said before, these techniques don't work in isolation and require you to judge the demeanour of the customers on a transaction by transaction basis to determine how you proceed.

Anything Else?

"Would you like anything else?" - this isn't going to work. True, if you're asking this you are making a genuine effort to upsell but the way I've always seen it is that you don't sell "anything else". If I were to look down your menu I very much doubt you have a menu item listed as such. You're missing a fantastic opportunity to really make your customer think about your products. "Would you like a Garlic Bread Trio to share for starters?", questions like this make your customers visualise the products and then make a judgement. "Anything else?" is simply too vague to elicit an emotional response to help you secure that sale. Again, this goes back to my early point of making you come across somewhat disinterested. Sell your menu by making sure you tell your customers about the fantastic things on it (they may have not noticed it before!).

I should note, for those working in the hospitality industry, this is not the same as asking something like "Is there anything else I can get for you?" when you check on a table. That is more about generally making sure the guest has everything they need. I am thinking more of when you're taking an order and you want to add something too it.

Upsell for value, not just for profitability

Upsell promotions that save your customer money even if this reduces their spend. For many, upselling is increasing the ammount the customer spends to increase the profitability of a sale. This is true, however, sometimes it is possible to reduce the amount a customer pays through deals or promotions that you're company is running. As opposed to seeing this as downselling, consider it as upselling value to the customer. Any promotion you are running will have already been costed and concluded that it is financially viable (I hope) so why not offer it to the customer? Imagine the disappointment a customer would feel if after purchasing from you they found an freely availaible offer that could have saved them money. They are hardly going to feel valued, in fact, they are probably a bit upset. Compare this to the feeling a customer would get when you save them money and may be even get them a little more for their money.

At Domino's we would often have deals that made buying more items cheaper overall for the customer. We would actively promote this to customers it was appropiate to. For example, the New Cross Road Store in London currently has a promotion running offing Two Medium Pizzas, a Garlic Pizza Bread, Potatoe Wedges and a 1.25l Bottle of Coke for £19.99. At the same store, ordering just a Medium Pizza and a Garlic Bread is going to cost you £19.98 and ordering all the above items individually totals £41.95. In the above situation you should always let the customer know that you can put their order in a deal that offers them better value. Talk them through what you are doing and let them know you are working to save them some money, "That should be £41.95, but I can put it into our Feed Four for £5 Each so I can get it down to £19.99". You've just made yourself one happy customer. If you don't offer the promotion, for the sake of the few pounds you've gained on that transaction you've probably lost that customer and any future money they would have spent with you as soon as they realise you could have saved them money. Every company now claims to put their customers first; prove it to your customers in how you treat them.

Other things to consider

Be genuine in what you say and how you say it.

Any upsell that sounds forced or scripted isn't going to work and it will come off as just another sales pitch. That isn't what you want and it isn't going to help you achieve much. Think about your demeanour and how you go about engaging with the customer.

Be tactile with your products (if you can)

This applies mostly to bar or retail staff as opposed to waiters. If you want to sell a particular draught larger, for example, put your hand on the tap when you talk about it. If you're trying to sell a particular spirit show them the bottle. People are more likely to accept your prompt if you do this.

Be considerate in what you offer

It amazes me how often staff will blindly upsell products thinking they're doing a great job. Think about what you are selling to this customer. A customer who has ordered a Vegetarian Pizza probably won't want that side order of Chicken Wings. Think about it.


The essential thrust of this article has been about being genuine when you're dealing with your customers. Upsell can increase profitability on an order by order basis but can also play a part in securing customer loyalty in the long term. I hope that this article has given some tips and ideas that you can implement into your business to help you build sales. If you have any other ideas, comments or tips, feel free to comment or send them through to me.

Since I was 16, I worked in various customer facing roles from Domino's to Bars and Restaurants. Here are a colelction of techniques that I found helpful to increase your sales.


I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and insights about this article. You can get in touch with me through any of the options on the Contact Page.