Freelance In 40 Days [Day 27]: Upselling to Clients… Without Being a Salesman

Posted: November 13th, 2009

Photo by Soartsyithurts (Flickr)

Photo by Soartsyithurts (Flickr)

This is Day 27 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today you’ll learn the art of upselling to clients.

Several years ago, when I was cruising on a road trip in Vancouver, I noticed my car veering to the right and making a bad vibration. After having a peek, I noticed the right front tire was badly worn and needed replacement. The other tires looked OK.

Long story short, I came away from the tire shop with a set of four new tires and a brand new set of rear brakes. I didn’t even feel ripped off in the process. In fact, I came out thinking this was absolutely necessary since I was to cruise on for  many miles more.

All this because the mechanic made careful observations and showed me why I should get the new tires and brakes, not because he could sell a refrigerator to a penguin.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be doing this for your clients too.

You don’t even have to be a fast talking salesman nor have sales experience. It is simply keeping in mind the client’s best interests and following a few tips.

1. Suggest, Don’t Sell

The real key to upselling is getting to know your clients needs then using your expertise to meet those needs. The kicker is that sometimes clients don’t even know what they really need just like I didn’t notice the importance of having good tires and brakes on a road trip.

Once you think of a way you can help a client further, suggest it to him and give compelling reasons with examples, if possible. Without reasons you appear pushy and the client is more likely to decline any suggestion.

Just by keeping your eye out for ways you can improve the client’s experience, you suddenly have opportunities to upsell.

2. Recommend Fixes, Upgrades or Other Services You Provide

One of the easiest upsells is noticing things that don’t work right. Are you redesigning a client’s blog but notice it runs slow as molasses? Do you know of a way to fix it? Bam, offer to fix it for a small fee.

Likewise, if you find that a client is still in the dark ages in anything they use, give them a reason they should upgrade. Once, I noticed one of my client’s had a website that used a template that dozens of other sites used. After showing her three or so of those, she was convinced she needed a redesign.

Also, let a client know about other services you can provide him.  If he hires you to write the copy in his website and you also write sales copy, don’t hesitate to let him know. A client might otherwise assume you only do the current work at hand.

3. Offer a Package Deal or Sale,or Both

Remember in the 80’s there was that infomercial for that “ginsu” knife that could cut through nails and tin cans? Then when they had you sold on the price, they threw in the steak knives, cleaver and that weird knife that made those flowers out of radishes.

Then you HAD to have it (even though you were ten years old when you saw it).

There’s something about package deals and sales that drives clients wild. Somehow, when he is paying X dollars for a service and knows he can get the steak knives, cleaver and weird knife for a little more than the X he is paying now, it makes the whole package more attractive. Tell him it’s a November offer and you have him sold.

4. Go For The Kill

If you see a client could benefit from a costly fix, upgrade or service then let him know and be sure to have your reasons ready. If it could cost a client a lot more in money, time and headaches in the future by not doing what is necessary right now, then he will surely be open to the idea.

5. Otherwise Keep It Small

Though there is no written rule to this, I’ve found that if a client is to spend X amount of dollars for a services then he is willing to spend up to roughly 20% on top of that for an upsell.

Keep in mind this entirely depends on the client’s need for the upsell and the reasons you give him for it. Clients have budgets, too, so there is a limit to how much this could go.

So try starting out by offering an additional service at around 10% of a project price then experiment by increasing the amount of the upsell on future projects.

Your Homework For Today

For each project you start, get to know your client’s needs and find an area where they can further use your services. Then suggest this to him. Don’t be surprised if he takes you up on it.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

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  • Freelance In 40 Days [Day 37]: Passive Income - The Freelance Rant

    January 9th, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    […] Tack on a few dollars to your projects by offering upgrades or additional services to your clients each and every time. They won’t always take you up on this but there are those that will. Skip this, however, and you leave money on the table. Have a look back at Day 27 where upselling to clients is covered. […]