8 Timeless Tips for Resisting the Upsell

Photo: sjlocke

The art of upselling is regarded in the sales world as one of the easiest ways to increase sales, and that's why you encounter this tactic often. A waiter may try to sell you a nice bottle of wine when you order a steak dinner, a car salesmen may try to sell you paint protection packages when you buy a car, and the McDonald's cashier will always ask "Would you like to make that a meal today?" They ask because in the moment, most people don't think about the additional expense and just see the additional benefit. If you want to save some money this holiday season and beyond, know these rules that will help keep those add-on costs down:

1. Think twice before you give out your contact information.

From signing up for email newsletters to flat-out leaving the other party with every conceivable way of reaching you, providing your contact information allows salespeople to contact you and pitch products and services again and again. Last week I got a call from a dealership pitching a maintenance package for my car. If even car dealerships have started doing this, you know every company can potentially spam you with these calls.

2. Do your research ahead of time.

To avoid spending more due to the hoopla of the shopping experience, try to figure out exactly what you need to purchase before you ever step out the door. Many people go to a restaurant because they are hungry or walk into Best Buy because they would like a new TV. The more prudent buyers know that they actually want a nice rib-eye steak because of its flavor, or that they want a LED TV from Samsung for Christmas.

3. Have a clear understanding of why you want it.

When you are able to articulate the reasons why you want to purchase a product, you can find the best place to purchase it. When you know exactly why you want a certain product, it's also much easier to tune out the sales pitches that will surface during the buying process.

4. Have a budget.

Most people should have a budget anyway, but it can be especially helpful in avoiding an upsell. Have a strict budget for items you want to buy, and if the price of an add-on still falls within budget, you can buy it. Otherwise, forget about it, no matter how useful it seems at the time.

Be mindful of setting too loose a budget though. When there is a limit, it sometimes becomes a game of "How close you can get to the limit without going over." Set the budget to $300? You will spend $297. Set it to $500? You will likely end up spending $485, even if you are trying to buy the same type of product. That's why research is so crucial.

5. Learn to say no to time limits.

It's easy to spend more at the time of purchase because you're drowning in the happiness of buying something new. When salespeople add a time limit on those add-on offers, they can suddenly become must-haves. In reality, almost no discount is ever a once-in-a-lifetime deal, so just say no and decide whether you really need it when you are in a more relaxed environment.

6. Try the 30 day rule.

This is just taking the "say no" rule up a notch. Basically, you limit yourself to not buying anything that wasn't planned or isn't needed until 30 days later, when you are past the time that you will likely act on impulse. If you still want it after 30 days, then you can have it!

7. Always find a way to self-serve.

I love self-service because of its convenience, but there's another benefit — the lack of upsell. Sure, computers can be programmed to ask questions in an attempt to get you to buy more, but they will never compare to a highly trained salesperson. And when the choice is presented by a computer, you also have a bit less pressure and thus can spend more time thinking about the offer.

8. Don't shop as much.

If you don't want to pay more for an upsell, then reduce the chances that you are being sold to. The less you are in the checkout line, the fewer small purchases you will see. The less you eat out, the less you will buy a premium beverage to go with your entree. The less you buy, the less you will pay more.

Learn the rules, and you will spend less. Really.

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