Are Upsells Ethical? - Think Like a Fish

Are Upsells Ethical?

So, up-sells…

I’m sure many of us have experienced these sorts of things. When we’re buying things online, we go through the process, we decide we’re going to buy something, and then we make our purchase. And the next screen, we are being offered something else to buy as well.

Now while that makes sense, if you’re running a business, and if you can encourage somebody to buy some more things, then that’s good for you and your business because you’re making more money.

What that does tend to spark in some people is if that is ethical? And if that is integral to what you do? 

This is a question that I’ve had around Upsells.

This person understands Upsells. She would like to use them because it’s good to make money. But at the same time, she is worried that it doesn’t necessarily follow the same levels and integrity that she might want to maintain with her customers. And, that’s a genuine concern because there are plenty of examples of bad Upselling. False sense of urgency and scarcity and shock and all that kind of stuff.

What an Upsell is there to do is yes, you can look at it from the point of view that it’s there for the business to increase it’s sale value but really, if somebody has taken the first step to buy your product or service, it means that they have trusted you as the person to solve their problem. And they have trusted you with your product or your service, whatever it is you’re selling, can fulfil that problem. With an Upsell, if done correctly, you have the option of further helping that person.

Because your product or service is there to solve that one problem. If it doesn’t do that, then stop reading this blog.

But really, if you can then say to someone “Thank you very much for buying. We have an option here that will help you achieve the solution to the problem faster, easier, smarter.” And that’s not a bad place to offer an Up-sell.

Because what you’re really doing is you’re offering a an enhanced way to solve the problem that your product already does.

That’s one way to look at it.

Another way to look at it is if you genuinely have something that help someone and they don’t need any other products, for example, there’s nothing else to solve that one problem, you as the expert or you as the creator of whatever it is that you sell will know something about what happens after that problem is solved.

So an Up-sell could be used there to educate someone that once they’ve gone through the journey of solving one problem, they’re going to face another problem. And what they could do is get in front of it by purchasing another product or service from you. Or maybe it’s an ongoing coaching from you or something else.

But ultimately, as long as what you’re doing is genuinely providing value to the people that you serve, and you are presenting an Upsell in a way that it’s done from first and foremost, the desire and ability to help that person achieve a result faster, better, quicker, then I actually would potentially argue that you’re doing a disservice to that person, by not offering something more.

You’re offering an enhanced way of solving that problem.

I’d actually say it’s almost unethical not to do it, as long as it’s in that way. However, if you’re just putting something that’s completely irrelevant in front of someone after they’ve just bought, then that can potentially kill the trust. And I certainly wouldn’t ever advocate doing that.

Now I also understand that might still not feel right.

So one of the things that you could possibly do is you don’t offer the Upsell directly after the checkout. You actually give some of the option beforehand so you’re completely transparent. And you might not see as many of the conversions and all that kind of stuff.

Example is if you offered someone Option A, Option B, or Option C, with all of those things. Like if you buy Product A, it will cost you a hundred pounds. If you buy Product B, it’s 200 pounds. Buy both together, it’s 150 pounds. Or you can have Option C where you can get Product A and Product B along with four hours of coaching with you or whatever it is that you do.

And each of those increase in price point. That means that somebody is then given the option up front and it’s completely transparent. There’s none of the after up selling that can be a little bit intrusive, a little bit annoying. That’s one way of doing it.

Another one is that you nurture the relationship with your new client, after they purchase your product, by first of all, providing the product or the service that they have actually bought. And then you ongoing nurture. And you would then know through working with a client or by the very stage that they would get to, that they may be ready for the next part, or the next service, or the next product. So you can offer an Upsell at that point.

Those are sort of different ways.

I would sort of look at ‘Upselling’ that it isn’t unethical as long as it’s done in the right way.

The obvious example is when people go, “You want fries? Go to McDonalds.” Now you could argue that it’s unethical because you’re encouraging the worldwide epidemic of obesity.

Another example is, Amazon do this all the time, it’s when people that bought this also bought that.

You’re never forcing anyone into buying an Upsell. , Make it very clear about that. You’re saying, “This is something that can enhance what you’ve just already bought.”

Ultimately, you don’t have to do them. They help businesses, especially small businesses, because if you get a certain percentage of people that are taking up an Upsell, that actually allows you to keep the lights on for a start. And if you’re able to do that, you’re able to sell on a higher level, I think that’s quite a good thing.

Because, if you don’t do that, and you’re not making as much money, then I would argue that maybe you’re doing a disservice to the people that you serve. Because you’re not actually able to help them as much and all the rest of it.

It’s another way of saying you need to be able to charge what you’re worth. And this is a way of being able to do that but doing it in the right way. Doing it in a way that enhances what you offer.

It provides extra value and it is genuinely going to help the person that is going to buy it.

That’s how I would look at it. I hope that’s been helpful. I hope that’s answered the question as it was intended. Leave a comment in the comment selection below and let me know what you think. See you on the next blog post.

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Adam King