How to identify upsell opportunities to maximize your profitability

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

For agencies and other service consultancies that specialize in small businesses, few things can be more helpful in increasing revenue and the lifetime value of your clients than making the most of upsell opportunities.

The business-to-business equivalent of a McDonald’s employee asking if you’d like to upgrade from small to medium fries, upselling is your way of offering customers more so they deepen their engagement with your agency. By better understanding what upsell opportunities look like, why they matter and how to better implement them in your own agency, you can maximize your earning potential like never before.

What do upsell opportunities look like?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to upselling. Some of most common types of upsells include a product or service upgrade, encouraging customers to purchase products in multiple quantities, offering product or service modifications, and extended service periods.

For agencies, this offers valuable flexibility — and multiple ways to upsell.

For example, an agency might offer monthly marketing service plans, but upsell to its clients by also offering an annual plan. This annual plan can be offered at a small discount compared to the monthly plan, but has the advantage of keeping customers “tied” to the agency for a longer period of time.

Another option may be to encourage customers to purchase additional marketing services. For example, a small business client may come to an agency looking for a new image or logo, and the agency may also offer to provide web design services so that the company’s website matches the new graphics. With any of these upsell opportunities, the end goal should be to find ways to create additional value for your customers.

Besides the ones you already offer, are there any services that make sense to customers but aren’t in your wheelhouse? For example, maybe your agency writes great content but lacks the ability to optimize it for search. Or maybe you’re capturing new leads for your small business customers, but not using enabled automation to nurture those leads. In such cases, it can make sense to work with other providers and technology partners so that you can white label their services.

Related: Customer service is the new upsell

Why upselling is important for agencies

In a small business survey conducted by vcita, about 68% of respondents said they handle all their marketing themselves, compared to less than 24% who outsource their marketing to an agency. This indicates that agencies often struggle to provide value to – or to – small business clients communicate effectively how they can deliver value – and it points to great opportunities for agencies that excel in this.

Upselling is easier for agencies that are good at communicating their unique value propositions and can flexibly tailor their packages to the specific needs of potential clients. Depending on the type of upsell offering you make, it can show how much you pay attention to your customers’ needs. It also helps highlight the versatility of your agency – how to become a true “one stop shop” for clients to effectively manage all of their marketing needs.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that upselling can be a powerful source of income. That’s according to a HubSpot survey 72% of sellers who upsell report that it generates up to 30% of their company’s sales.

The 80-20 rule (or Pareto principle) also applies here — where 80% of sales come from the top 20% of customers. Upselling can help you maximize the profitability of your agency’s best clients, ensuring more focused sales efforts that yield better results.

How to maximize your upselling potential

The previously cited HubSpot survey found that 88% of merchants try to upsell their customers. Of course, this doesn’t mean that every upsell attempt will be successful. The most effective agencies focus on ways their upsell offerings create real value for the client rather than just a one-time profit boost.

This requires a real understanding of the SMBs you work with and their unique pain points. Analytics are only part of the story. You should take the time to talk to prospects and understand their specific needs. Listen to their feedback so you can build trust and strengthen your relationship.

By taking the time to get to know your customers and prospects, combined with a deep understanding of your diverse network’s capabilities and services, you can then make tailored, compelling upsell recommendations. When recommendations are truly tailored to a customer or prospect’s needs and pain points, they will see that you are able to provide relevant service that adds real value.

To do this successfully, Adobe recommends limit how many upsell options you offer a customer. Too many options can ultimately lead to analysis paralysis, making it harder to make a decision — or even drive a customer away altogether. Upsell recommendations should also aim to stay within 25% of SMBs’ planned budget, as a dramatic price hike can also put customers off.

Upsell can (and should) be a priority with current clients – those who already have some level of trust in your agency. Something as simple as a quarterly or semi-annual check-in can help gauge whether a client is satisfied with your agency’s services, and open up opportunities to find new ways for your agency to add more value through upselling. Active listening during these customer conversations can be especially crucial for identifying upsell options that your sales team can pitch right now.

Related: 4 things that make for unforgettable customer experiences

Make the most of your sales opportunities

Regardless of the customer, you need to consider potential upsell opportunities in every sales interaction. Whether that’s to get a customer to order additional products or upgrade them to a higher level of service, upselling isn’t just an opportunity to get a one-time increase in sales from a customer.

It’s also a way for you to further showcase your best work – and why you’re worth working with for the long haul. When you upsell effectively and then follow through on the promises you made during the sales process, you set your agency for lasting success.

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