Upsell Utopia Or Upsell Hell?

This has to be one of the most overlooked mistakes. And it’s not the fact that upsells are done wrong. The biggest mistake is that they’re not done at all.

First, let’s clarify what an “upsell” actually is. An upsell is an offer made at the time of ordering to make additional sales to that visitor.

Think of it like this… If you’ve ever gone to a fast food restaurant such as McDonalds and you place your order for a hamburger and a drink they always ask “Do you want fries with that?”

That’sthe best example of an upsell. Think about it – even if you order their combo meal they ask “Would you like an apple pie with that?”

You should have a predetermined upsell item to offer for any of the key items you sell. By doing this, you’re making a suggestion of something that would normally go along with that item that is a no-brainer for them to add without thinking. So they add it.

Of course, by applying this strategy you can increase your sales time after time. In many cases sales have increased dramatically. In one case we offered an upsell and 75% of the buyers took it.

We were selling a $97 product (Affiliate Tool Generator) and upselling a bundled package for a total of $147 which is, of course, an increase of $50 per sale.

Just imagine if only 25% of 100 buyers took the upsell? Instead of making $9,700 you would make an additional $2,425 simply by
suggesting a related item to go along with what they are already buying. The key thing is to make it a related item. You obviously would not offer them steak sauce if they were ordering a fish sandwich.

Another mistake is offering too many items. I’ve seen several websites where you go from one upsell page to another upsell to yet another upsell. Some call this “Upsell Hell”.

This strategy causes major confusion.

Just imagine you go to place the order and you are presented with a page with the upsell with two buttons, “Yes take the offer” or “No, I just want the one item” and then you go to another page with another offer and so on.

After some point you either get to place your order, get confused about what you are ordering, or just get frustrated and leave. Obviously this is not a good thing to have happen on your order page.

So be sure to increase your order totals by adding the upsell strategy to your sales process. Just be sure you follow the guidelines above.

This is an just one of the mistakes from my book “50 Biggest Website Mistakes” check it out at

About Frank Deardurff

My Passion is my Faith, Family, Love for Music, Art and Photography. I myself have delivered many of my own training courses as well as webinars and teleseminars for many other coaching groups. I’ve also published a book titled “50 Biggest Website Mistakes”. Having many decades of experience in various forms of graphics and IT experience and aspects of online business, my vision is to help others overcome their fears and frustration with taking their businesses online and reach the next level of success.


  1. Mauricio Martinez on January 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Alex Mandossian once taught me that ” a confused mind always says ‘no.'” So I completely understand the problem with too many choices. But the ones I hate the most are the upsells that make it clear that the product you’re buying won’t work effectively without it. I believe in business school they called that bait and switch 🙂

  2. Frank Deardurff III on January 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Yes I agree Mauricio that the confused buyer never buys. yeah the bait and switch is not good nor is the “hidden” monthly continuity upsell. That hurts the market in general. Thanks for posting your comment!

  3. Debbie Gilster on January 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    This is a good reminder for all, and you’re right not enough of us do it. (Including me. Don’t we want to make money?) It takes some planning and intentionally linking pages together into a sales flow. It can be done in a “soft sell” manner so we shouldn’t shy away from the technique. You’ve reminded me to put this higher on my priority list!

  4. Frank Deardurff III on January 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Debbie it does take some planning but in most shopping carts you have an “Upper Html” area where you can put a block of text promoting your upsell. in that block of text simply add a link or button to the bundled product. Works really well. Hope you see great results.

  5. Ravi on February 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm


    Awesome article! It’s interesting that how anyone writing an article about “Upsells” never forgets to include the “McDonald’s” example :-). Doesn’t that say something about how they’ve pioneered and perfected the strategy?

    I recently launched an Upsell plugin for my membership software at . And guess what, I started the copy with the McDonald example! 🙂

    Here’s another thought: It’s almost like anyone who has been selling a product online long enough *knows* that Upsells must be done. Everyone seems to generally appreciate that upsells can make you more money with every sale.

    But it’s almost like no one knows *how* to implement the upsells. That’s where most people get lazy, or freak out about the imaginary technical complexity, and just drop the entire idea.

    So, as a geek and marketer, one of the things I strive to do is to find and solve such “software” issues. It’s amazing, as how opportunities stare at you everywhere you look – only if you’re looking *and* noticing 🙂

    – Ravi Jayagopal

  6. Frank Deardurff III on February 19, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks Ravi – great feedback I’ll take a peak at your site. I think I have one of your products from many years ago I’ll have to think which one.

    I can relate to the geek marketer – and your right on target find out where the market is stuck and deliver the solution. Don’t try to sell them on something else to get stuck on.

  7. Renee Harner on February 24, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Major just article post.Really getting excited about read more. Want more.

Leave a Comment

three − 2 =