Tactic #188 - Upsell by highlighting how small the extra cost would be

Tactic_ Upsell by highlighting how small the extra cost would be


Upselling is a technique whereby you offer your client a superior and more expensive product than the one he was considering. By highlighting how small the price difference is between the two products you can really engage and interest your customer in this proposition. By helping your customer to find a much better product at not much extra cost you will benefit from the increased price in the sale but also help your customer to come away feeling as though they have benefitted as well. At the moment when someone is about to buy they are very susceptible to other offers as they have already accepted the idea that they are about to spend money and so will be more willing to consider spending a little more.

Also, studies have shown that people can be heavily influenced by the idea that they might be losing out on something and so will be more likely at this moment to pay a little extra to get the superior product rather than face losing out on the extra features or benefits etc.


  • Sunk Cost Effect (Kahneman & Tversky, 1970; Arkes; Hal R. & Blumer, 1985)

The Research

Sunk Cost Effect

With the Sunk Cost Effect, people have been proven more likely to continue on in vain with a project or plans for which they have already invested money, time or effort, even if they no longer want to or there may be more potential losses to come. This is because they take the money already lost in to account – not thinking rationally about the fact that this money is completely irretrievable and therefore a moot point that shouldn’t be part of their decision-making process.

Experiments conducted by Arkes and Blumer in 1985 revealed that people would actually be more inclined to do something less enjoyable if they perceived the financial value of it to be greater or to commit to doing something they didn’t want to if they’d already paid for it. Have you ever not wanted to attend a concert, film or other event because either something that promised to be much more enjoyable was on offer or because you felt particularly ill and just wanted to stay in bed, but you went anyway solely because you didn’t want to ‘lose’ the money you had spent? The money was gone either way but forcing yourself to attend made you feel like you had gotten some worth out of it when really you would have been happier had you just accepted the loss and done what you wanted.

In web marketing, this is a particularly valuable tool and can be used in many ways. Introducing reminders that show customers how close they are to checking out and the time they’ve already invested on your site will automatically kick in their sunk cost sensibilities and increase conversion. Equally, the Sunk Cost Effect can be great for post-sale purchases: someone’s just bought an expensive computer from you? Offering protective cases or anti-virus software will tap in to their fear that something might happen to that computer and therefore render the money they’ve already spent wasteful.

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