3 Times You Shouldn’t Upsell to Customers

Upselling is always a good call – right? Not necessarily. There are three scenarios in business when it’s inappropriate to try and upsell to your customers. Here’s what you need to know about when not to upsell – and when you absolutely should.

When they’ve called customer service with a problem

Undeniably, customer service interactions can be a great time to upsell services or products to customers. Shep Hyken, respected speaker and customer service expert, supplied an example of such a scenario:

“…If a customer is at an Ace Hardware store buying a can of paint, it is perfectly logical, and many times appreciated by the customer, to ask if he or she needs brushes or other items to complete a paint project.”

But when customers call or visit your business because they have a problem and are met with a sales pitch instead of solutions, they will remember it as a bad customer service experience.


When a customer feels that their problem has been solved and that they’ve established some trust with your company representative, they’ll be more likely to respond positively to your sales pitch.

When your employees aren’t trained in sales

Asking your non-sales staff to upsell without training them properly is asking for trouble. It will result in stressed-out employees and frustrated customers.

There’s a reason sales is it’s own department– selling effectively requires special skills and adequate training.

Asking your non-sales employees to sell to the people they’re supposed to be helping puts them in a bad situation when they interact with customers and makes them more likely to deliver a bad customer service experience.

When you think sales matter more than customer service

Be careful how you prioritize customer service and sales. If sales takes precedence over customer service in your mind, you’re sure to create a culture that breeds bad customer service experiences. At their core, sales and customer service are at odds with each other: Sales is about your company. Customer service is about your customers.

But you can balance sales and customer service in a way that appeals to your customers and results in more sales across the board.

How to upsell more effectively

First, change the way you train your employees to upsell. Don’t teach your customer service reps to pitch product features and sell solutions. Instead, teach them to listen well and ask the right questions. If your reps take the time to learn about the customer, know what problems they’re trying to solve, and only “pitch” products or services that they truly feel would benefit them, you’re on your way to providing a great customer service experience.

  1. Don’t teach non-sales employees to upsell with generic sales pitches
  2. Train non-sales employees in all your product and service offerings so they can make informed decisions
  3. Teach your employees to actively listen to customers, gathering pertinent info before suggesting an upsell
  4. “Pitch” additional products/services by relating them as specific solutions to the customer’s problem

Remember – the more you focus on supporting your customers and the less you concentrate on upselling, the more likely they are to trust you and become customers for life.

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