To upsell or not to upsell? Is it such a hard question?

I got an email the other day from a pretty furious chap who called into question one of my marketing techniques.

Now obviously being an opinionated bugger (me not him) and also being extremely comfortable with how I conduct my business I thought I might be missing something because I couldn’t ‘get’ why he was so angry.

So if you’re at a loose end today or have an opinion on the following I’d love to have your input.

Which side of the fence do YOU sit on?

Here’s the issue this guy had with me.

He bought one of my reports. It’s a report that shares five of my proven strategies that will shortcut cash into your account in under 30 days.

It does what it says on the tin, and if you ‘just add sweat’ as one of my favourite marketers says, then it DOES work.

So make no doubt about it, he bought a report that was teaching internet marketing techniques.

No argument there.

What DID shove a pointy finger up his sense of righteousness and all things holy was that there was an UPSELL in my sales process.

He was as mad as an X Factor contestant when he came onto my support desk.

Using colourful language he pointed out that when he buys a product about internet marketing he does NOT want to be confronted with an upsell. He found it insulting and extremely inconvenient as all he wanted was the product he’d bought.

My view on this is that he needs to look at what he’s bought.

I teach internet marketing.

70% of the income of almost all my sales come from upsells.

If upsells bug him that much he’s in the WRONG business.

Or is it OK to present his customers with upsells but woe betide any marketer who actually presents HIM with one?

(Classic case of treating your customers as being less intelligent there)

Now I’m assuming that people who buy my products have a brain and can understand what they’re buying and why.

And if you want to learn internet marketing one of the most IMPORTANT things I can ever teach you is the value of upsells.

Surely you’d be annoyed if one of my techniques was teaching about upsells yet I didn’t use them in my own funnels?


Combine this with the fact that almost EVERY company that sells online uses upsells.

Ever buy off Amazon? They’re MASTERS at it.

Trying to change your TV and Internet package?

Just look at the ‘optional extras’ they add

Almost everyone online uses upsells and one time offers.

My bloke must go trawl the internet with a permanently red face and blood pressure that could boil water.

But surely the FIRST place you’d expect an upsell is when you’re buying an internet marketing product?

If you don’t want to break eggs don’t buuy a friggin’ book on omlettes mate.

I’m 100% convinced I’m right on this.

But I’m also not stupid enough to never change my opinions.

Upsells are hugely important to anyone wanting to make a living online. You’re gonna leave a LOT of money on the table if you don’t use them.

Sure I get bugged when I have to go through 4 exit splashes to leave a page but that’s a different thing. I’m talking about related upsells.

Anyway I gave him a refund and explained how he’d be better off reading another marketer’s stuff.

ANY marketer.

I haven’t heard back so hopefully he’s gone to play with the people who post WSO’s and advertise their ‘No Upsell Promise’ as a key feature of the product they’re selling.

So here’s where I need your input guys.

I know we don’t agree on everything (thank God) but I maintain that my subscribers have a higher average intelligence than most, purely because they can understand my witterings.

So I’d appreciate your honest opinion on this one.

Where do you stand on the great upsell / OTO debate?

Comments welcome

Get my blog posts delivered by Email

71 responses to “To upsell or not to upsell? Is it such a hard question?

  1. I have no problems with OTO’s or upsells, but start to get a bit peeved when there are three of them before I get my purchase. There’s nothing too difficult about clicking the “no thanks, take me to my purchase” button. You’re right, the upsell is part of not only internet marketing, but lots of areas of our day to day life, and the “would you like fries with that” is the perfect example.

  2. Mark

    He will never succeed at Internet Marketing. That’s a fact. It’s essential that you fire customers who are like this. I was annoyed just reading about him.

  3. I think you should treat your customers respectfully, but you are 100% correct about the upsells (as you well know). Most people understand the deal.

    Sometimes you just have to cut a customer loose. You can’t please all of the people all the time

    Some folk just like to be angry, and life is too short to let them affect you.


  4. Tony Shepherd

    Thanks for your early commments guys – do you think NOT using upsells and OTO’s could ever be a selling point in itself?

    Could you compensate with not running upsells and bring in extra business by branding yourself as ‘The guy who never upsells you on anything?

    Personally I think you’d be branding yourself as an eeeejit saying this, but there are enough people who are bugged by upsells so it might just work


    Not for me tho πŸ™‚


  5. Seems to me if you are buying an internet marketing product that you should EXPECT an upsell. Silly really. I will never understand why some people get so annoyed by that. It soooo simple – ignore the upsell and get your product.

  6. Jan

    People who have issues with upsells etc simply don’t see the bigger picture of how marketing works…and not only in IM. OTOs are totally part of the business and you should never have to apologize for that. Now, if its simply a person who needs to be educated about what IM is, then forgive his outburst with a big smile and see if you can help him…but there are indeed a lot of complainers who keep going on about it.

    But…a lot of these complainers are at the WF…it’s a hotbed of aggressive impulsive reactions…ridiculous actually. But about the marketing value of “no OTO”…well…it would have to be tested…but my guess is…you are always going to be better off with an upsell…and isn’t that why you are in business?

    Now…I should get to work on my own WSO…taking about it doesn’t make me any better off πŸ™‚



  7. There’s the this-is-a-really-nice-addition-to-what-you-just-bought upsell and then there’s the what-you-just-bought-won’t-work-without-this-upsell. The TIARNATWYJB (#1) upsell is ok. the WYJBWWWTU (#2) really gets me. And you are absolutely right in that DirectTV, Amazon, etc., all use both of these tactics.

    My 2 cents is to retain customers, stick to the #1 type of upsell and forget using the #2 tactic. And you do. I’ve purchased some of your stuff and you do a good job of delivering value plus.

    I agree that this is one customer you send over to buy from your worst enemy.

  8. I think upsells are OK provided that the original offer will work without it. I often reject the upsell if I don’t see the added value. Multiple upsells and downsells can be very annoying though as Audrey mentioned. Why get upset though, nobody is forcing you to buy.

  9. Tony Shepherd

    Fantastic point there Graham & Deborah – if if you NEED the upsell to make the main product work it’s very naughty.

    Totally agree there!


  10. Hi Tony,
    These are my personal views.
    I’m with you in the main issue – if you buy an item on “How to Make Money at IM” then you have to accept that Upsells are a major factor – so expect one!
    There are two areas where this should either not occur or should be handled better than it usually is (the latter being the priority):
    Warrior Form Special Offers are a prime example where the readers all look to WSOs for great value, up to date info or software to use quickly in their online projects, but where OTO’s are usually either not mentioned, or not explained properly……… and here’s where I get hot under the collar…… the delivery of the item you first chose to purchase is very often delayed because the flow is disrupted whilst you have to consider another (partially explained) offer.
    Along with most of your readers I’m sure, I’ve bought a lot of offers. Maybe I’m finally getting thicker skinned, better at choosing what I actually need, or I just want to better understand how I might actually use what’s on offer.
    Whichever it is I do find it very irritating to have that flow interrupted in a manner where I’m stuck wondering just what value the OTO might actually bring to what I’m attempting to achieve.

    So, (and I omly say it this way to annoy Martin Avis!) I agree that anyone wanting to be involved in IM SHOULD expect upsells.
    But, I put out a plea for them to be used with a mind to still providing the buyer with a smooth flow in receiving the product(s) they choose to pay for.

    Some of the WSOs I have experienced in the past 6 months alone have been real timewasters in their delivery chain, and it does raise my blood pressure – but I’m NOT the guy that complained to you (never had a problem with your material Tony – Thanks).

    Well, you did ask!!

  11. Tony Shepherd

    Excellent comments guys.

    John – thanks for a well thought out stance.

    Let me put this to you though:

    IF having a disruptive upsell path, that delays the customer obtaining his product while he seens one or more upsells…

    …BUT results in a 60% increase in profit from that particluar funnel…

    Do you still keep the upsell?

    In other words, are you a marketer or a customer?

    Is it all about the figures or is it all about the customer experience?


  12. There will always be upsells and if one is not interested in this JUST IGNORE IT not make an issue of it.

    If it is making the marketer money why would they want to change it???

    If you are buying info products to make money then why would you not want to use it???

    Anyway, I guess everyone has an opinion just not the same ones.



  13. Having been in offline marketing at the retail and wholesale level, also in service provision as well as having taught marketing to others, I have to say that upsells are an integral part of the process. Yes, I do agree that three upsells before you get your product is a bit over the top but one upsell then a downsell is not too much.

    I sometimes get a little irritated with so many but they don’t happen too often and they are as easy as swatting a fly to get rid of, just like saying no to fries.

    The factors that do irritate me strongly are:
    1. A promise of a complete package in the initial offer only to find you must have the upsell or OTO for the initial package to be workable. That to me is fraudulent and I will refund quicker than a blink on these. Unfortunately these are fairly common on the WSO forum and the only way we can get rid of these is to request a refund on them so that affiliates won’t promote them.

    2. Complicated multipart processes to get your product after you paid for it with several pages to pass through with logins and access codes simply because the vendor is paranoid about someone stealing his $7 miracle.

    3. Upsells that have no relationship to the main offer. They are an insult to my intelligence and I feel like getting a refund on the main offer, even if it is complete and has value.

    4. Failure to offer reasonable customer service. When you take someone’s money for a product or service you are selling, then you are honor and legally bound to offer satisfactory customer service, within 12 hours or less of the support request. VA’s are often willing to work at odd hours and weekends so if you launch a WSO on Friday you must be prepared to handle support issues that weekend. No buts, no maybe’s, no excuses. If I can buy it “even if it’s 3 am in the morning” then I want customer service even if it’s 3.30 am in the morning.

    On the subject of customer service, often the only difference between marketer A and marketer B is the quality of his/her customer service. Offer awesome, exemplary customer service and you will get awesome, exemplary customers who are also very loyal.

    A case in point: a Supermarket chain in Australia have a unique USP: They promote themselves as the fresh food people and if you are not satisfied with the fresh food you buy they will replace it AND refund your money – even if you don’t have the sales docket. Sure there will be a few who will cheat, but the vast majority of people are intrinsically honest so the supermarket gets loyal customers who continually shop with them because of the guarantee. The customer is King, and while the customer may not always be right, he/she must always be treated courteously as though he/she is right.

    Phew! That’s my say Tony; I did buy that report of yours, not too sure if I bought the upsell (I think it was your newsletter which I already get and look forward to each month; actually the only newsletter I pay for and the only one I read regularly and take notes on becos it always has insightful advice). The report was worth the small price and the advice in the report, if offered by the likes of Jay Abraham, would probably have cost thousands.

    Summing up, OTO’s and upsells can be a little irritating, but if they are related to the main offer (but not vital to it) and comprise one upsell then one downsell, then they are to be expected just as much as “do you want fries with that?”


  14. Tony, upsells are expected and welcome if the original offer is complete, and the upsell is explained well enough as value-added. 2 at most, prefer only one. One hand, they do ramp your profit, other hand, they wear on the customer’s patience. Balance and “being real” needed. Hyped promises not appreciated. Speak in the voice of a friend and mentor, and suppose questions and get answers in response. Seems like you’re doing a good job.

  15. Fred

    I may be wrong but I understand that the trend is for more and more people to use the internet as their first choice to make any home purchases.
    Even the retail shops are now aiming to use this medium to stem the lack of sales.
    Let me ask if you go to the baker and ask for a loaf of bread would you be annoyed if they suggested a cream bun to go with it for your next cup of tea?
    Or would you leave the bread on the counter and go next door and buy your bakery?
    Probably not as the competition is slim on the ground and the problem with internet marketing is that it is everywhere and it is simple to shut down the page on view and open another one with exactly the same goods on offer.
    I believe that there is not a black and white question here but one of several shades of grey and you’re quite right Tony to ask what people think.


  16. Bruce Arnold


    “I want to learn how to market from you. What?… How dare you market to me while I buy your product on marketing!!!”


    As you realize, you’re lucky they went elsewhere.

    I’m always amazed that marketing students get offended by being marketed to.

    Best wishes,

  17. Tony Shepherd

    There is a ‘real world’ comparison to the 14 page upsell and exit splash pain in the butt that we see in IM

    Has anyone come across Vistaprint?

    They start off with a low offer of maybe Β£5 for 1000 business cards.

    You order and begin the buying process.

    After 10 minutes you’re STILL picking your way through the upsells and the ‘would you like to add this to your order’ procedure.

    It’s very clever and very annoying

    To cap it all off, once you;re on their list they send you pretty much an email a day for months.

    I presume the do it because it works REALLY well

    Interesting process to watch


  18. Hi Tony,

    Personally I don’t like Upsells, even though I am aware that it part and parcel of the sale.

    The reason is that I am buying a product, usually from someone I don’t know, and before I get to even see the product, I am asked to buy an upsell (or two, or three or four).

    My thought is that ‘how the hell do I know if this guy’s product is crap or not and he is trying to sell me more?’

    Normally, I bookmark the upsell and after trying the product I bought, if I feel I could do with more, I go back to the upsell.

    It does get up my nose a bit, but not enough for me to try hanging myself from the nearest tree (I have a laptop with a long life battery so finding a tree is no problem:-)

    I suppose the bottom line is that if you know the guy you are buying from, no problem, but if not, an upsell can be annoying.

    BTW, I bought large fries the other day from MacDonalds. I only wanted regular size, but the girl serving me was so cute I bought her upsell. Perhaps I will do the same from you one day as your are such a sweet guy (that’s a joke so stop getting excited!!)

  19. Tony Shepherd

    Good points guys

    Robert – yours is a good point about knowing the seller or not affecting if you buy an upsell.

    The sales of upsells are very emotion based so I wonder if knowing the seller affects it that much?

    I’ll have to look into it

    As for the ‘cute seller’ – there’s one company near us who do doorstep selling and send only young attractive girls and lads round.

    I’ve often wondered if they do better than the ones that send middle ages pot-bellied salemen heh heh?


  20. You can please some of the people some of the time and all the people some of the time. But you can’t please all the people all the time. That being said this guy is not worth wasting your time with. Anyone involved in internet marketing knows full well they will be faced with an upsell when they make a purchase for an internet marketing or make money product. We all have a choice whether or not we buy the upsell or not. This guy has probably never made any money online and is spending all his time looking for the golden goose of internet marketing products and he just happened to think your product may be the last product he
    ever needed to purchase so he buys it and then Oh My God NO he’s hit me with an upsell how dare he. It’s too much for the poor guy to take. Where I come from if you saw a guy face to face and he started ranting on like that with abusive language unjustly it would be lights out for him within seconds and he’d eventually wake up ( if he ever did wake up! ) wondering what the hell had hit him. It was a bunch of fives mate a knuckle sandwich the guy who gave it you left long ago stating you deserved it you self rightious git. Now get the hell out of here unless you want some more of the same. Enough said. Concerning the business of knowing someone was never going to give you an upsell yes people could possibly think yes he’s a great bloke he never tries to upsell me BUT this would also allow your subscribers to take you for a ride they would think your too soft a bit of a wuss. Subscribers have to be trained from the get go that your going to sell to them otherwise your list is not going to be responsive and you’ll be builiding a list of freebie seeking time wasters. After all it’s not building a list thats the problem for most people it’s pretty easy to slap up a squeeze page with a free report or something of high perceived value and get people to subscribe to your list.
    BUT its something else all together to build a highly responsive list of buyers something your doing all the time Tony and something I’m working on right now the list the list the list and nothing but the list. Oh sod it I’m off to get pissed ( drunk to any of you non brits )

  21. Interesting debate and one that will no doubt never be resolved.

    Personally I hate upsells with a passion, especially if no mention is made of them in the original blurb.

    I don’t believe that they fall in the ambit of ethical marketing but rather fall under the title devious or underhand.

    If you are marketing a product, then market it. If you are marketing 2 products, linked or not, then make it abundantly clear upfront.



  22. hahaha, have to love marketers that don’t like marketing. I would say the guy should just return your product and find a new line of work.

    I personally love being marketed to, its a chance to see what other people are doing.

    You see upsells all the time because they work, if they didn’t they would disappear.

    If you are studying marketing then you can often learn a lot more paying attention to the sales processes you go through then you do with the actual product you are buying.

    Take notes, what got you to buy in the first place, what did you like what didn’t you like?

    Don’t get mad if you don’t like something just take it on board as something you can adress differently in your marketing, but if its something as prevelant as upsells then maybe, its there because it works.

  23. Tony Shepherd

    Hey William,

    Nice comments.

    This line sums it all up for me:

    ‘I personally love being marketed to, its a chance to see what other people are doing.’

    Thanks for posting mate


  24. Hi Tony,

    very interesting thread, upsells are a way of life except that most are so clever that we don’t realise its happening, McDonalds of other fast food outlets are brilliant at it as indeed are new car sales people.

    I think that most internet marketers understand the value of the upsell or downsell, but it can be infuriating when you just want your product like the guy who phoned your help desk. Still don’t know why he bothered to do that.


  25. Hi Tony

    It seems like years ago but I remember reading your Perpetual Motion Marketing System, and that’s when I truly understood upsells and the whole sales funnel.

    I seem to remember the whole process was seamless (as explained in the product itself!) and I bought the whole package.

    The reason was because it was relevant to my business at the time.

    The maximum number of offers I now make after the original sales page are three and this seems to work fine.

    I manage support desks and these types of emails from customers always make me smile. These people will always remain buyers and not marketers (something you mention many times) until they understand the rationale behind the process – to make money. And I’m happy to point this out to them in my replies.

    Of course, I’ve never received a response saying, “Hey John, you’re right. Here’s my sales funnel!”

    But I live in hope.


  26. ian

    I agree with Deborah I can’t stand push button riches hypey sales pages which then say BTW you can do all these manually but to actually have push button as the sales page suggests you need this upsell…. it doesn’t bother me as I don’t buy push button riches stuff but its unethical for sure and perpetuates the gutter image of internet marketing.

  27. Nick

    I have no issue with upsells, provided the original offer is a complete within itself. Recently a WSO was selling a WP plugin one of the upsells was for updates to the plugin. I would expect updates for the first year to be included in the basic price.
    Upsells which offer advanced versions of the basic product are fine.

  28. Hi Tony,

    Have you calmed down yet? I hope so! I’d be pretty upset at getting an email like that, no matter what it was about. Anyway, here’s my own perspective from a customer viewpoint.

    Upsells: I absolutely hate them if they’re the kind that say “Now, if you REALLY want to make this work”, then you get another that says “You can do this even faster if…”. That’s after the very first sales page said the product has everything you need. These are the upsells that give internet marketing a bad name.

    Then there are the upsells that are providing good, relevant offers that complement what you bought. Sometimes I find those useful and sometimes I ignore them. Either way, I don’t mind them at all. If they’re from a person I already know and respect, then I’m more likely to buy them. Otherwise, a reminder of the upsell in a later email would even be helpful.

    The Amazon-type upsell is the one I most like since it usually tells me about something either I forgot I needed, something I realize is a great idea, or something that other people have found useful. For example, the batteries or the case that you forgot, or the other software that people use to make their lives easier. Sure, this is similar to the other upsells, but it’s all in the wording they use and the trust they already have.

    OTOs: This depends. I’ve found that some OTOs aren’t really a one-time thing, so I tend to be skeptical about them. For example, I’ve rejected an OTO in the past and then seen the option again on the seller’s site. Also, as someone else mentioned, I’m unlikely to take an OTO if I don’t already know the seller’s work. I understand the point of these, but I have enough pressure in my life without someone else adding more. I’d rather have time to evaluate what I bought, then you can tell me about another offer I might like.

    When it comes down to it though, it doesn’t really matter what one of us thinks. It’s your own customer results that count. Everybody’s market is going to react differently.

    – Sharyn

  29. Hey Tony,

    At least the guy took the time to get hot under the collar and explain what he disliked!

    With my latest launch I’ve had well over 300 happy Customers… resulting in currently 6 refund requests.

    I don’t mind that people decided to ask for a refund, or even that they gave no reason as to why…… What Gripes me is that 1 instigated a charge back via his bank, and the other 5 all opened paypal disputes claiming the product was never delivered or not as described!!!
    Then on reading their comment – it just says they would like a refund!

    WHATEVER happened to just submitting a support ticket with a polite refund request?, after all – if I ignored it they could then file a dispute!

    Such a pain in the rear!

    Anyways – Re upsells…. what’s the problem?… here’s an extra that may help and is hopefully related… want it? yes or no… Simple!
    If you tell me the 1st product wont work without the upsell – they I’m p*ssed off. But if it’s just something extra… I’ll say yay or nay happily.

    They are a part of life.. end of!

    And No Thanks, I’ll stick with a medium meal thanks… there that was easy πŸ™‚


  30. Karen

    There is a way around the whole situation:

    After their purchase have them land on the download page with the download link at the top but a headline that reads:

    “You may also be interested in…”

    and have a “salespage” on your download page.

    You should get some extra sales with this since they can download what the purchased, go through it, see how absolutely fantastic it is (as it better be…) and then purchase your other product.

    Then on that download page you could go through the entire process again.

    Just my 2 cents.

  31. Paul

    Most everyone else has covered the main issues with upsells/downsells/OTO’s already: they are not inherently evil in any way … they are everywhere, and customers often appreciate them when they complement the original purchase.

    “Y’all want fries with that?” is a complementary offer if you just ordered a burger; so is “Would you like to subscribe to the Affordable Mentoring Newsletter?” if you just bought an IM product from Tony.

    As others have noted, it’s bad when the OTO or upsell sales copy implies that it is required to achieve the results promised in the sales letter for the original product. Not cool.

    Speaking from personal experience, my only issues with upsells have to do with their sales pages being too long. If the upsell letter is just as long or longer than the one for the original purchase, I’m apt to get impatient and skip down to the “no thanks” link; if it’s a long video (or one that doesn’t show how long it is … grrr) with little or no explanatory copy, I’m also likely to get antsy and skip it.

    I just bought something, and I’d like to get my hands on it now. Go ahead and ask me if I want the fries, but don’t make a big production out of it, please.

    Just my thoughts.


  32. Tony Shepherd

    I’m sort of surprised that no-one has really chimed in with:

    ‘Well what do the stats show? If it makes more profit then put upsells in. If not don’t’

    and just ignored the customer experience altogether.

    What do you think? Is there room for purely money motivated action in all this?

    Maybe it depends what hat you’re wearing


  33. Hi Tony,

    I think they’re are some caveats on the up-sell/OTO process.

    They should compliment the original product, but the front-end product can stand on it’s own without the up-sell.

    And avoid presenting up-sell after up-sell. I’ve seen marketers litter the pathway between purchase and download page with five OTO’s, that’s a bit much, IMO.

    I’ve purchased your stuff and I think you do it the right way. I’ve never been annoyed. Heck, I’ve incorporated your strategies in my own business. πŸ™‚

    This dude has probably had bad experiences with other marketers abuse of the up-sell/OTO process and thus now he’s jaded and took it out on you.

    With that attitude, unfortunately, he probably won’t go far in this business.

    That being said, I’ve noticed on the WSO section of the Warrior Forum that the tide is turning against OTO’s and up-sells.

    To the point that you can expect someone to ask you right in the WSO thread… “is there an OTO, what is it, and how much?”

    Doesn’t that take away from the effectiveness of the up-sell/OTO strategy, if you have to describe it on the thread before prospective customers order?

    So I do think that maybe as WSO’s it would be a good idea to test OTO vs. no-OTO to see which offer comes out on top.

    Great topic to discuss. Thanks for bringing it out to the open.


  34. Ian

    I have a theory that there’s also a bit of psychology behind why some people get so upset at upsells in the IM field.

    In IM, some (not all, but some) people are searching for that big opportunity – that one next thing that will make them rich, let them quit their job, etc.

    Of course, not everyone is like this. And I’m sure you don’t target that group. But the fact is that there’s a goodly number of them. By comparison, no one buys a MacDonalds expecting it’s the one thing that will change their life.

    So they click buy with all hope and expectation that this is the one, this is the thing that’s going to do it for them.

    Then they get an upsell. And it can break the spell.

    The fact that you’re now offering them something else means that one thing they just bought can’t be it. It can’t be the one perfect solution they’re hoping for. And you can’t be their saviour – you’re really just in it for the money aren’t you…

    Most people don’t think this way – but its just inevitable that in IM you do get a large number of people desperately seeking a miracle buying product after product. And the upsell kind of breaks the spell for them.

    Just a theory.


  35. My take on upsells — if the upsells are highly related to the subject (but not required to make it work), than I’ll put up with them. I don’t like them but understand why they’re there, and as long as there is a findable link at the bottom so that I can say no thank you give me my purchase, it’s fine. As a marketer, I try to always keep this in mind.

    And I agree with the comment — if I’ve never bought anything from this person before, there’s no way I’m going to spend more money on an upsell, because I don’t know the quality of the information I just bought.

    That’s what I do, too, only very rarely do I buy an upsell/downsell from a marketer I’m not familiar with. Especially if it is in any way connected to a WSO or the Warrior Forum. Of course this attitude makes upsells/downsells less effective. So how do you fix this? I never put the “One time only you will never every see this offer again” nonsense on the upsells, so I can send them later in my emails. That gives the person time to read the first purchase, and if they liked it they’ll be more likely to buy again.

  36. Tony Crofts

    Hi Tony

    I think part of the problem of upsells/downsells is down to price conditioning.

    We have seen and evaluated the product we want to buy and know the price we are being asked to pay. We know we can afford it. When we are then offered a chance of further purchases at the same time then it is always going to be at a higher price than we have just price conditioned ourselves for. This applies no matter what sales/purchasing environment we are in.

    We then mentally go through the price evaluation process again but often at a speed that we are not comfortable with. Or so it seems.

    If the question is “Do you want fries with that?” then it has to be a quick decision. For anything on-line then it too appears to have to be a quick decision. Accentuated by the phrase OTO. As we have often only just received the information we need for evaluation then we can feel very uneasy.

    I think it is this feeling of urgency without having the time for evaluation that makes upsells unpopular.

    As others have said, part of that evaluation is ‘Do I know and trust the seller?’ Partly it can be down to a feeling of ‘Will I miss out out if I do not buy the OTO?’ Which is when it can then lead to resentment.

    Personally, I open every link of any offer in a new tab. I can then save whichever tabs I want for a later time or sometimes even for a future date if needs be. It removes the urgency and along with it any feeling of ‘Being sold to’.

    The ‘Being sold to’ feeling is always one of suspect. Why are they rushing me into buying this product? Is it no good or doesn’t it work? Let’s refund the lot.

    I much prefer offers where full details of the upsell(s)is revealed beforehand. When I know what the additional offers are then I have comfortable evaluation time AND I am price conditioned accordingly.

    I always expect further offers anyway, unless told otherwise. On the Warrior Forum it is often possible to ask before a launch or read others comments after the launch to know upsell outlines at least.

    The other thing opening every link reveals are those really dodgy offers where you can buy the product at $x on this page but if you turns us down we’ll offer it to you for $x -$10 on the next page. Or even a $1 trial if you turn that down too. If those type of downsells happen then you know to close all tabs and not to buy their offer at all.

    Thanks for the chance to rant Tony

    Tony C.
    I like your idea of calling them Optional Extras. Perhaps then some marketers will realise they are supposed to be optional, not an essential working part of the sale.

  37. Phil

    Touchy one this.

    I’m not all that in favour of Upsells or OTOs. Firstly, because OTOs always seem a bit ‘pushy’. Hey, I haven’t seen the product I’m actually buying yet, and it might be crap, so why can’t you offer me a deal where I can come back later and enter a code or something and pick up the offer? You can make that offer in the product I’m actually buying. Let’s face it – that OTO isn’t going to melt. It’ll still be there a month from now and, as a seller, if someone buys it then I don’t care when.

    Upsells – depends on the upsell. If I’ve just bought a $5 product I REALLY don’t want to see an upsell at $300. To use a previous example that’s like buying a loaf and being offered a kitchen to put it in. If you’d offered me a knife to cut it with, at a price close-ish to what I’d just spent that might be different.

    But the one thing I really hate is the bloody pop-up that when I’ve said ‘No’ to the offer offers me the choice of going to a new page or seeing an ‘improved’ offer. Look, if you want to make me an offer – be genuine about it. Don’t say I can buy it for $50 and then when I refuse offer it to me again at $30. To me that says you were trying to cheat me out of $20 – and my perception of you has just plummeted. Repeat business comes, not only from good products, but also from being honest.

  38. Rob

    The original product MUST be a stand-alone… or as you say “does what it says on the tin”… and be as described in the sales pitch.

    Unfortunately many marketers make it “the bare minimum” so that an upsell is almost essential rather than an enhancement.

    Of course, most of us realise that the original product is often a sprat to catch a mackerel. The problem is that until you’ve parted with your cash you don’t know exactly what you’ve got!

  39. Paul Robinson

    It’s already been said so this post is entirely superfluous, but…

    Provided the original product works on its own, without the upsell, then the upsell is fine. Just say no (if you don’t want it).

  40. Tony Shepherd

    Really good opinions here guys. Some well thought out points of view.

    Is there anyone who would stand up for putting as many OTO’s in as is profitable?

    It’s a tough one.

    My own gut feeling is that if you really started to lay on the upsells your refund rate would increase a lot too.

    Not sure I want to test that particular theory out though πŸ™‚


  41. Penny Butterworth

    Hi Tony. As a customer, I have been in both situations. Once I was making a purchase of a product and on the back end another product that I already knew I wanted was available at a reduced rate,I snatched it up right away, and was as happy as a lark! However; I have also been OTO’d to death on the back end of a $7 deal.

    I think that if the marketer has actually given thought to what is being offered as a OTO and can make a connection between the original offer and the OTO then it is perfectly acceptable. Now, to simply offer 3 or 4 upsells on the back end in an effort to make a sale here and there, although annoying as all get out, as long as there is a clear way to opt out of it, it is still just marketing.

    Perhaps this person was just having a bad day?


  42. Tony Shepherd

    Good point Penny – but I don’t think it’s just a matter of putting upsells in to make a few extra sales.

    It’s easy to underestimate JUST how much extra money you make from upsells.

    It really adds up.

    There seems to be an agreement here today that if the seller actually puts some thought into their upsell, it not only converts better, but is seen in a much better light by the customer.


  43. In the case of Vistaprint, I do like to browse through their upsells. As for Godaddy, I avoid them entirely because of all the upsells. As for Amazon, the upsells are fine.

    I think it’s a matter of how much hype and in your face the upsells are, and whether most people find them useful. If they find them annoying, it can cause you to develop a bad reputation. If they are softly pushed and the opt-ins are high, I think it’s ok.

    Of course, the money motivation for upsells is compelling.

    If the upsells are highly relevant and not “in your face”, and not required to make the first purchase functional… they would seem to pass my criteria for being ok.

    I seem to prefer the “if you like that, you may be interested in this” approach.

  44. Tony Shepherd

    Yeah GoDaddy upsells are just ugly.


  45. Hi Tony,

    Don’t worry about this guy. Whatever you do or sell, there will always be some prats out there ready to complain, (probably wouldn’t use the product anyway).

    In my photography business we use up-sells everyday. It’s a way of life! My clients may originally book the lowest price wedding package on offer, but the majority of them will have upgraded to the full premium package by the time we complete the job. We never pressure, we just offer.

    As with any of our packages, our clients always get good value for money, but for us it is the up-sells that put the icing on the cake.

    So, yes. Up-sells are OK, as long as the main sale is a complete and usable item that works without needing to buy the up-sell. It does piss me off when I buy something that won’t work without the up-sell. In those cases I politely ask for a refund and mark them down as rip-off artists.


  46. It sounds to me as if this guy is just starting out and he’s in a hurry to get his business up and running to make money quickly. He’s not taking the time to read what’s in front of him, big mistake..He’s come across something he hasn’t seen before and doesn’t understand it and gets angry because to him it’s a delay in the way he wanted his day to go. Well he’s got a lot to learn! and the hard way !.You should have told him to stay in his pram and keep sucking his dummy! πŸ™‚

    I’ve never found it difficult to ignore up-sells/OTO’s lol. I simply read through them, decide if they are an asset,if not I move along…
    I haven’t set up anything like this myself yet, but to me it’s a way of experimenting and seeing what works. At the end of the day everybody has their own way of running their own business, if people don’t like it, fine, they always have the option not to buy.

    Just my 10p worth…


  47. Thomas

    Hey as a customer if you intend on presenting me with more than 2 upsells, you better have an offer for all 3 if purchased together, oh, and better make it the last offer.

    I really don’t like more than 2 upsells because I get the feeling this guy is after money not customers.

    As mentioned the main product has to stand alone, who the hell would buy a car without an engine or gearbox.

    I’ve seen 5 OTOs and I’ve seen them get dearer as you progress and some get cheaper, won’t tell you what thoughts go throuh my head on those.

    Anyway as again has been said it’s a fact of life, suck it up and move on.

  48. Earl

    People who whine about OTOs are losers who are simply looking for an excuse to whine because deep inside they know they aren’t going to do anything with the original product anyway, and the OTO gives them an excuse to put the blame on the seller instead of where it belongs…..on themselves.

  49. OK sorry if this point has already been made. I was only able to read about half the comments before my eyes started wigging out.

    I think that Upsells have their place and as an IMer I have come to expect them as part of the sales process. As a customer do I like them? NO! Most of the time I feel like I am being duped and that the product creator should have just included them in the original sale even if it meant charging more for the product.

    those that I have purchased from and then they hit me with multiple upsells, downsells, and sidesells I simply won’t buy from them again. If I say no to the OTO it means I don’t want it so don’t offer it to me for less in a second OTO.

    Now I am an affiliate marketer so I don’t do allot of my own product sales. I do sell a couple of products though and I do upsells to them. But, I put the download to the product they purchased above the upsell on the same page. So they have the choice of downloading or reading the upsell.

    I think it is important to build a relationship with your customers before asking for more money in the form of an expensive upsell. The way I do it they can checkout the product they purchased see the value in it and then know where to get more valuable products from, their download page.

    Jeff C

  50. As a online marketer i love oto when i buy a product i expect it if you do not offer me one , i feel sorry for you, you might have a hard time making money online. I also like going through the process so i can learn who is doing what and how, maybe i can pick up a trick or two. Great post..Thanks

  51. I don’t mind upsells, downsells or any other sells. However I don’t like buying something in good faith to immediately arrive at a page that tells me I have just bought a 3 wheeler
    rather than the GTI. Particularly when I was totally unaware of there even being a GTI one minute earlier. It leaves you feeling mislead and leads to distrust of further offers. If you make me feel foolish for buying you dont get another chance.
    So in my opinion it is all in the way it is presented for most people.

  52. Mike

    All i can say, is that the bloke is an Idiot and you can publish that with my name on it. He is definately in the wrong game, if he wants to learn anything about marketing and who knows, if he had looked at the upsell, which he obviously didn’t he could have found something useful.When i buy something, i always look at the upsells and even if i cannot afford to buy, i will note it down, for maybe the future if it looks good.

  53. Sandy

    I would say that if the original product was all that it was promoted to be and more, I don’t have a problem with an upsell. I can always say, no, and I have many times. If the product seems like just a come on, and the upsell is required to complete it, then I would have a problem with it. Sell on! πŸ˜‰

  54. Charles

    In the interests of transparency, I have to declare that I dislike being taken by surprise – which is what the majority of OTO’s do. That is why I don’t like them.

    By the same token, there are a lot of techniques used in IM which are so badly done that I groan mentally whenever I come up against them however much interest the initial approach may have attracted me.

    These techniques include video presentations,BS,hype, bad luck stories, overlong sales messages which never get to the point, sales messages which amazingly never tell you what the product is (yes – I’ve read a number of them), and a much longer list if I thought you had the time to read it.

    There are some good marketers who actually take the trouble to sit down and think about their potential clients and how they would like to receive the message you want to send them.

    These marketers heed an excellent piece of advice given to public speakers which is: “Tell them what you are going to tell them – tell them – tell them what you have told them – nothing more and nothing less”.

    So was Tony’s screamer justified? No, I don’t think so. The only thing one can say in his defence is that he has clearly not yet built-up the years of IM experience and thick skin necessary to indulge in Internet Marketing with equanimity, forbearance and good judgement.

    One doesn’t get a connoisseur of fine wines throwing his toys out of the pram – says he inappropriately mixing his metaphors!

  55. Jerry Roberts

    Thanks to Leslie Sprankling for alerting me to this post.

    I think the previous comments have more or less covered the topic very well. If I have anything at all to offer it is this…

    To me, it’s all about relationships.

    Every post, every email, every offer.

    For an OTO I would ask myself…

    1. Have I done my best and is the offer clearly worth more than I’m asking for it?

    2. Could the reader evaluate the offer and reasonably believe that it should have been part of the main product?

    3. Does the OTO reduce effort, speed the process, increase understanding in a specific area, make available personal or group coaching and handholding, offer a “done-for-you” scenario, or otherwise bring significantly greater value? If not, then go back and build that in or don’t offer the upsell.

    4. Have I made this an easy process, or am I making this person jump through a bunch of hoops that will likely lessen his/her enjoyment of the journey β€” and alter their opinion of how I conduct business?

    5. Have I conveyed trust? Is this likely the beginning or growing of a relationship, or are there negatives now in place to make that difficult?

    Thanks for a very good treatment of a topic that will always be with us.

    Best to you,


  56. I personally don’t mind an upsell as long as the original product is everything the marketer said it will be. I have purchased many great products and most times at better prices because I bought it as an upsell.

  57. I agree with chris that if the upsell is the missing bit and you feel you have bought an incomplete product without it then that is not such a great feeling, but I have bought some great upsells – usually plr rights to the product or something of value.

    I feel this guy may have got to you a bit Tony – I would simply dismiss it as we do want the lunatics running the asylum do we???

    Thet’s face it, is his opinion going to make a huge dent in the I.M. world’s infrastructure?

    Hardly? Maybe he was just having a bad day?

    To answer your question, Upsells = Yes please πŸ™‚


  58. Mal

    Hi Tony,
    well I generally hate upsells. If there are options, I would rather those be made obvious from the start.

    It’s probably the whole secretive thing about many sales pages that is so frustrating, and that is compounded by often several levels of upsells, downsells, whatever. And only after you have purchased do you find them one at a time. From a customer standpoint, it sucks big time.

    It is like buying a car, with no mention there is no engine. After you have purchased the car, you find out for five times the price you can actually get the engine. I just don’t like that way of business. (I realize that not all upsells are quite this offensive, but it surprises me that you do not seem to see the frustration these can cause).

    “If upsells bug him that much he’s in the WRONG business.”

    Tony, that statement makes me feel that you, or marketers in general should I say, just believe that if you do something often enough then it must be ok.

    Looking from my side of the fence, and I’m no marketer, that makes me giggle. “But I’m just a bloody customer” :>)

    And yes, I will probably never be a “marketer”.

    Absolutely no offence intended, just opinion.

    Take care, Mal.

  59. Terry Sanders

    I’m with Mal, though my feelings aren’t quite that strong.

    The upsell is a legitimate enough tactic, but it does come across as a tactic. And it’s real easy to read the upsell as “Oh, I left the important stuff out, but you can get it for five times the price you paid to start with.”

    In other words, when you’re on the receiving end, there’s a fine line between “upsell” and “bait and switch.” And not everybody will have the same idea of where the line is.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the screamer. Some people will think ANY upsell is proof that it’s all a con. But if you start getting too many of them, you might want to look at your initial offering and making sure it has enough value to make the upsell look like the “Next Big Step,” rather than the “Missing Part of the Equation.” And remember that the person deciding which it is doesn’t have the advantage of your experience–he doesn’t always know what’s vital, what’s obvious, and what he can figure out for himself with the hints you’re giving him.


  60. I think some would-be Internet marketers buy so many products that they end up forming this unusual demographic of people who are REALLY getting hammered with upsells all the time. It can bum you out after a while if that’s happening to you and you see upsells all the time.

    However, as long as the upsell isn’t one of those deceptive practices some marketers engage in, where the upsell is the bulk or the real meat of the product and the entry product turns out to be incomplete or missing critical information, an upsell is a GOOD thing. It gives people who might be super interested in learning from you a chance to pay a little more to get something extra special. It creates a super targeted, smaller list of TRUE FANS who will tend to buy other items from you happily.

    I tend to be dealing with screamers of a different type: people who are extremely outraged that I’m charging money for ANYTHING, even if it’s $7.99 for a really nice report or Ebook. But then I’m in the self-help/spirituality niche, where people believe all teachers are gurus living on mountain tops with their goats subsisting on vapors, so why on Earth would they need any money? πŸ™‚

    By comparison, some dude complaining about an upsell sounds like a real vacation!

  61. Hi Tony

    I actually like it when I’m presented with upsells. It gives me ideas for my own funnels – and I often save copies of upsell pages so that I can analyize the copy and look at the way they have presented it.

    Some people are just never happy mate. As you say, if he gets upset by being presented with upsells then he is definitely in the wrong business!

    The only thing that does bug me about upsells (as others have said) is when there are five or six different upsells – or you need to buy the upsell to ‘complete’ the product.

    Apart from that, I’m all for them. I understand as a marketer that using upsells makes me more money – and as a customer it gives me choice and the chance to get more value from my purchase.


  62. G’day Tony πŸ˜€

    There are TWO thing that annoy me about so many upsells (especially OTOs):

    First is not that they’re there after I’ve just gone through the whole payment process, but that I now have to go through it all again! It’s a real pain in the proverbial.

    I’m currently testing “telegraphing” my own OTOs up-front, so that buyers can choose the OTO at the same time as they purchase the base product. I want to test whether this approach delivers higher or lower take-up rates than the usual hidden OTO.

    Second is when the first product is so @#$%^& basic that it becomes essential to buy the upsell to get any kind of value from it. It’s ambush selling at its worst, and I finally reached boiling point the other week after buying several WSOs that were plain, old-fashioned deceptive, several bordering on fraudulent.

    The other “backdoor” version of this kind of selling is the demand that I subscribe to their “product updates” list in order to be notified of future (free) updates… then promptly find myself buried under an avalanche of pitches for their unrelated products and, especially, pitches for other people’s products.

    This really riles me. It’s deceptive, it’s unethical or thoughtless, and it’s reason for me to cancel my subscription on the spot. Yes, I’ll miss out on hearing about future (free) upgrades, but if that vendor is either so devoid of principles or so clueless that he doesn’t realize how unethical or offensive his practices are, then the obvious conclusion is that he really has nothing to offer me that I want.

    A small few sellers are savvy enough to understand how this undermines their credibility and invite you to join their DEDICATED list for upgrades to that product (which is NEVER used for any other purpose), PLUS their OTHER list to receive offers from the seller for other products they sell or recommend.

    It’s called intelligent behaviour and it builds credibility, respect and trust… the three primary pre-cursors to loyal, profitable, repeat purchases and referrals!

    It got me to the point where not only am I unsubscribing from a LOT of online sellers’ lists, but I’m also writing to them explaining why I’m unsubscribing and what will happen next: they’ll be listed with all the other AMBUSH sellers I run into on my newest site at, which their prospective victims can check regularly for sellers to avoid like the plain, either because of their venality or their stupidity. (Neither is acceptable or desirable.)

    Good for you, mate… stick it to anyone driven by fear of loss on either side of a transaction.



  63. Debbie Kennedy Crook

    If I go into my local post office I’m upsold with car insurance, life insurance, home insurance, mobile top-up etc. And all of this is done while the person behind the counter holds onto my purchase and change. I don’t get my purchase until I’ve said “no” to everything.

    Similarily, if I go to my local garage for petrol they’ll always try and upsell me 3 Cadbury’s Cream eggs for the price of 2 or a handy picnic blanket for my car. (Like I can afford to drive anywhere for a picnic after they’ve charged me Β£1.48 a litre!)

    Irritating though it can be, we seem to live in a world of upsells… BUT we do have the option to say no.

    As far as IM products go, I don’t object to being offered an upsell if it’s in addition to the product I’ve bought and it’s relevant. But I do object to handing over my money for a product only to find I’ve only got half the information and need the upsell to make it work. In my eyes, that’s deception.

    As far as your raging customer goes Tony, may be he’s a newbie otherwise he would be accustomed to being upsold to. I think he:-

    1) Needs to get used to it if he’s going to survive in IM.

    2) Should spend his time more productively

    3) Take Valium before ever buying a WSO

    Kind regards


  64. Pingback: Upsells – A comment that won’t post |

  65. arthur

    I’m with you on this one Tony, thing is they’re under no obligation to buy the upsell all they have to do is is click on the ” no thanks ” link, and go to the download page simple as that, the only thing that gets me is when I keep getting exit splashes as you say, I don’t mind one of these but some are doing three or four of them, really annoying


  66. Hi Tony

    If you look at it as a buyer up sales, down sales and side sales are a pain in the proverbial but you can, if you have the intelligence, say No Thanks.
    As a marketer I think there are great!


  67. Justin

    I feel upsells and the like are so dishonest and disrespectul. Just because something is ‘usual practice’ don’t make it right. And using Amazon as justifcation for this very questionable practice is spurious, imho. Amazon may indeed do upsells, but all Amazon upsells are presented *before* you get to the checkout, so at least you know upfront where you stand before you’re committed a single penny.

    The thing about IMs OTOs etc is you’re only taken to an upsell page after you’ve already paid for some must-have product. You’re now left feeling very much like you’ve been suckered on that initial purchase, and now you’re on the hook you’ll be fleeced. Such tactics instantly kill any trust or respect I may have had for that Internet Marketer (I feel I’ve been conned), and I rarely buy from them again, and usually opt off their mailing list soon after. Their loss in the long run.

    Remember, even ‘stupid’ customers are “always right” so show them some respect. Too many internet marketeers take the proverbial with such questionable practices as upsells etc.

  68. Sandra

    I am not against upsales per se…. but it depends. Like others have mentioned if the upsale shows you that you just bought an incomplete product `!^&@/ grrrrr!!!!
    However, I stay away from certain types of sales letters (now) – the super-hype ones tend to be the ones where you get taken more often. Once you get to know the different marketers out there you know who you are buying from or if they come highly recommended – they have a reputation to protect, they are more careful.

    Sometimes the upsale is a perfect compliment to the product – but the product can still stand on its own without it. Just don’t make that little phrase “No thanks” so small that we cannot find it. πŸ˜‰
    If I don’t know the marketer I often will not take the oto by principle because I want to see what the product is worth first. And if I really like it I hope I can still get the upsale.

    One thing I HATE, and this often comes with the super-over-hype stuff is they give you so much “free” stuff or bonuses you don’t even remember what you bought in the first place. It makes the original product seem so very unimportant and cheap!!

    An example of “unexpected” upsales (I didn’t want to say “dishonest”): is the first time I went to the hairdressers. Before that my mother cut my hair ….. let’s not get into that one …..
    First they wash your hair $, “oh, your hair is so dry!, Shall I put some conditioner on it?” $, then it needs a little more (really dry hair) $, they cut your hair – but wait, is it just a simple cut $ or are they doing a NEW style? $$$ Now they dry your hair $, they use a brush to style it as they dry it. $$ They add a touch of gel to the tips to make it really look cool. $$ And to hold it all in place they give a light spray of hairspray to keep it looking natural. $$ By the end they don’t even ask anymore. My very first time – I was SHOCKED how much all those little extras cost!!! Now I know that it’s “just the way it is” but when you are new — it is just simply dishonest because you go there for the whole shabang /a complete product, not just to get your hair cut and run.

    So – when is it acceptable to have add-ons or upsales? And when isn’t it. I think the best policy is to be a clear as possible and provide a good service.

    Have a great day

    P.S. Now I only go to hairdressers where the price is high but everything is included (whether I use them or not) – it’s my choice.

  69. Alex

    Hello Tony,
    Personally speaking I am not too fond of upsells but that being said providing I have sufficient funds in my account I do purchase them on most occasions.Your opinions,however,do bring into perspective the validity of upsells.
    Please,hoever,Tony do remember that the buyer is perhaps on a tight budget and the prescence of an upsell – without previous warning – can be off putting since it gives the impression that the original product he may have saved up for meticulously is NOT the complete job without the upsell. Fair point ?

  70. I find it astonishing how many people on the WF complain about the OTOs. That not having an upsell has become something to brag about is crazy.

    What gets my goat far worse is buying something where I have to enter my email to get the product and then find I have been added to umpteen mailing lists.

    The worst offender had also sold me a product that only made sense if you bought the very expensive software to utilise the method.

    That really got up my nose. I think what upset me even more was that it was a UK marketer using a UK autoresponder company that allows subscribers to be added to other lists without their knowledge. You don’t seem to be able to get off the lists even!

    Given that the Warrior Forum sadly has far too many of these unethical marketers, it’s perhaps not surprising that some people get a tad upset.

    In all probability the guy was so upset because he wanted the upsell and couldn’t afford it. I know that gets to me quite often…

  71. I do not mind up sells, cross sells, or down sells if the product is 100% effective without them.

    Like others have mentioned already I do not like it when the original product is only a come on for the up sell.

    I also prefer it when I am told in advance what the up sells are and how much they cost.

    Just be upfront about what is truly needed and what it costs and i will have no problem with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *