Upselling – the strategy of selling higher-end or premium versions of a product or service to clients – seems like one of the most obvious ideas for sales. Your clients get a better option of something that they were already interested in buying to begin with, and you get to close a higher sale at better prices. What’s not to like?
But while it may seem like a good idea in theory, the reality is very different. [VAMP]
Upselling has its time and place, but there’s no reason why you should stick with a strategy that’s not working that well for you. If you’re looking for another approach that may just land you the sale that you need, case studies may be the answer.
Upselling may be a long-standing sales strategy, but it’s far from foolproof. The core of what makes upselling so difficult is that most of the time, customers aren’t looking for upselling. The reason why they’re already buying from you is that they’ve already found something that they want to buy – why should they spend any more?
It’s this question that lies at the heart of unsuccessful upselling, especially because the urgency shifts to the seller, not the buyer, to close the sale. There are three specific reasons why upselling can backfire spectacularly:
Sure, your premium product or service may have additional features that help your customer, but it’s often difficult to sell the cost of how convenient these additions might be. Unless you find a way to accurately sell why these features are worth the cost, customers will usually pick the option with the lower price.
All sales are conversations – and if you bring up something at the wrong time, you’re likely to derail the entire thing. You can’t just upsell at any point in the interaction; otherwise, you risk not only losing the upsell but the customer as well. Upselling is a tactic that requires a lot of experience and understanding to pull off well, and that’s not something that most marketers have.
What’s probably the most difficult part about upselling is accurately conveying how much value the premium has over the one that your customer is already picking. People today have access to a lot of data and a lot of options, so you can’t just say that the additional cost automatically makes your premium version better. Not only does this not add any value to your upselling strategy, but it can also make your other products look worse.
Case studies are a close look at how your product or your service benefits the customer. From the start, the difference from upselling is obvious: the focus shifts on what your premiums can do for the customer, rather than what the premiums actually are.
While upselling does involve content, sometimes it can read as nothing more than an impersonal list of what your premium features can or can’t do for a customer. In contrast, case studies are narrative and engaging on a personal level – they can guide your customer through a journey that leaves a stronger impression on them at the end.
At its core, this is the strength of case studies versus upselling: your customer gets a personal stake and interest in what you have to offer. Remember, you’ve already gotten their interest with your initial sale. Using a case study to give them a reason to give your premium product a second look can be more than enough to upsell them without actually giving them the upsell pitch.
But how exactly can case studies distinguish themselves from a spiel about upselling with sales? It all comes down to how you present your case. A spiel isn’t something that most people will look or listen closely to – it’s quick so it gets the point across. But case studies are different: they encourage people to listen, especially when your case is worth listening to.
Here are several ways that case studies can connect to your audience in a way that upselling can’t:
Upselling is all about the product. It’s not going to change unless you change the product, and the end goal of the strategy is always about closing the sale. While it’s great for presentation, it’s lackluster if your goal is to make it more relevant to your audience.
However, case studies are far more flexible – they can inform customers, show the benefits of engaging with your product or service and overall tell more of an involved story than an upselling pitch. By shifting focus away from the product and towards what it’s done for the people who bought it, you get an opportunity to make it more relevant to anyone.
Unlike case studies, upselling has a strong emphasis on what a product can do for you. While this can’t really be avoided, it makes the sales process more speculative rather than explanatory. Your clients end up asking “can this really do what you say it can?”, since the burden is on you to convince them to trust your word before trying your product.
Case studies bypass this by being presented as a proof of concept: allowing you to answer any questions a client may have before they even ask them. By using a real-life example that your interested clients can verify for themselves, what you’re selling becomes more trustworthy.
Upselling and case studies are both pushed by numbers. But unlike upselling, case studies can offer your customers a long-term, detailed, and reliable look at why your premium product/service is worth it. Think of it as a difference between a coffee meeting and an elevator pitch: which one do you think you’ll have more time to check the numbers on?
Case studies definitely have more room to elaborate on compared to the elevator pitch of upselling – with the bonus of having tracked and comparable data. Both may have numbers behind them, but upselling ends at features; while case studies can prove why those numbers work for your customer.
Plenty of people often complain that upselling feels a lot like getting a hard sell. It gives brands the appearance of desperation, and may even turn off any potential customers you may have if enough of your existing audience complains about it. Because you’re taking away the agency from your clients, it can often make any engagement with them worse from then on.
In contrast, case studies don’t push themselves on customers. They’re there to influence their opinion to get the premium without asking the question altogether: something that upselling can’t get past. By letting your clients breathe when making a choice, they’re in a far better state of mind to make the decision to purchase the upsell.
Upselling may be a viable sales tactic, but it’s not the only way to strengthen your engagement with your clients. In many situations, case studies may be your best option to give your potential customers the value that they’re looking for. With valuable content and verifiable results, you’re more likely to close sales without pushing too hard.