Difference Between Upselling & Downselling


Upselling and downselling are sales techniques used to get customers to purchase more expensive or less expensive products and services. Understanding the differences between upselling and downselling, including the pros and cons of each, can help salespeople effectively use these techniques.

What is Upselling?

Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a more expensive item, upgrade, or add-on service. The goal of upselling is to get the customer to spend more money to receive a superior product or experience.

Some examples of upselling include:

  • At a restaurant, the server suggests a more expensive wine or dessert.
  • At a retail store, the salesperson recommends the higher-end model of a product over the standard option.
  • On a flight, the airline offers first-class seats for an additional cost.

Pros of Upselling

  • Increased profits: Upselling brings in more revenue per customer. Even small upsells make a difference in aggregate sales.
  • Improved customer experience: Customers receive a better product or service that is more aligned with their needs or preferences.
  • Higher customer lifetime value: Upselling results in customers spending more per transaction. Their lifetime value increases.

Cons of Upselling

  • Can seem pushy: Aggressive upselling techniques may come across as pressuring customers and damage the customer experience.
  • More customer education needed: Customers may need careful explanations about why the upsell is worth the additional cost.
  • Potentially higher customer dissatisfaction: Customers who regret expensive upsells may be less satisfied with the business.

What is Downselling?

Downselling is the practice of convincing customers to purchase a less expensive item, downgrade, or basic package. It is the opposite of upselling.

Some examples of downselling include:

  • At an electronics store, the salesperson suggests a model with fewer features and a lower price point.
  • On a software signup page, the company displays a prominent option for the free version over paid plans.
  • At a car rental counter, the agent offers the mid-size model instead of the luxury vehicle.

Pros of Downselling

  • Increased conversion rates: Downselling may convince hesitant customers to make a purchase.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Customers feel less regret when they opt for a more economical option.
  • Opportunity to upsell later: Once they try the product or service, customers may be willing to upgrade.

Cons of Downselling

  • Lower average order value: Downsells bring in less revenue per transaction.
  • Dilution of brand image: Pushing lower-priced options may make the brand seem less prestigious.
  • Missed revenue opportunities: Customers who would spend more may instead opt for the downsell.

Key Techniques for Upselling and Downselling

Here are some effective techniques for upselling and downselling customers:

Upselling Techniques

  • Offer an upgrade as a solution to a problem or need. Explain how it solves for the customer.
  • Share positive recommendations and reviews of the upsell product or service.
  • Give a free trial or sample of the upsell so the customer sees the benefits firsthand.
  • Bundle it into a package deal to make the higher price tag more manageable.

Downselling Techniques

  • Present the downsell early in the sales process before discussing higher-end options.
  • Use phrases like “good choice” to affirm the customer’s decision to go with a more economic option.
  • Offer a lower-tier product or service as a stepping stone to eventual upgrades.
  • Disclose how the customer can achieve savings by going with the downsell option.


Upselling and downselling are important techniques for maximizing sales revenue, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction. When used strategically and with care, upselling and downselling allow businesses to cater to customers who want premium products as well as those who need more budget-friendly options. By understanding when and how to effectively upsell and downsell, sales and marketing teams can boost profits and provide a top-notch customer experience.

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