Do You ‘Upsell’ or ‘Upserve?’

Authenticity Contribution Respect


Key Point: Upselling is essentially getting people to do more for your benefit. Upserving is elevating what you can do for others. I promised you more from Dan Pink‘s new book, To Sell is Human, so here it goes:

One of the more dehumanizing terms in business is “upsell.” In my role as a leader I have mindlessly used this term often. For years it has been standard fare in most sales processes and training manuals. But, think about how we feel when we’re on the other side of “upselling.” When we go to buy a retail product, we often have to fend off getting sucked into purchasing accessories and warranties we don’t want or need. A lot of times, post transaction, we get bit by that dreaded bug we all know as “buyer’s remorse.” It can literally make us feel sick to our stomach.

What would happen if in a buy/sell transaction, the focus of the seller was to upserve? This would involve the seller elevating what they could do for the buyer and seeing the buyer as a highly valued friend. We would want to enrich, not diminish the relationship.

Pink suggests always asking two questions to guide us in a buy/sell relationship and in doing so, it reinforces the concept of upserving:

A. If the person you’re selling to agrees to buy, will their lives improve?

B. When your transaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began?

Now this may seem soft headed and naive for those who cling to old sales models of maximizing margin on every transaction… “Buyer beware,” right? But in today’s world of mega choice and mobility, buyers are too smart and savvy to repeat one sided buy/sell relationships. The person who really needs to beware is the seller.

Character Moves:

  1. Recognize that when we are asking or persuading others to give something of value (including time and focus) for something we have, we are “in sales.” New research suggests that we all spend much of our time “in sales” each day.
  2. Become more proficient helping others move themselves to a better state of being. This is really the new and desired skill of selling.
  3. Most importantly, enter a transaction from the viewpoint of upserving. This involves a genuine care for the benefit of the others involved. It does NOT mean servitude or suppressing one’s individual needs (like making money in a commercial transaction). But it is a different angle and approach that sincerely drives the seller and buyer to reach the “BETTER” for all involved.

Upserving in the Triangle,