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Upselling: The "Evolve” Moment Cheat Sheet by

Upselling: The "Evolve” Moment
marketing     sales     upselling-     moment     evolve     upselling


Our research revealed the best message for when you’re the outsider trying to defeat the status quo (“why change?”), we started hearing from folks wondering what to do when they are the status quo (“why stay?”). The big discovery here was that the disruptive message you need to dislodge an incumbent vendor is essent­ially the opposite of the message you need when you’re trying to retain existing customers.


There’s a lot on the line in the “why evolve” moment. If you’re succes­sful, you create a foundation for better customer experi­ences and longer­-la­sting partne­rships. If you slip up, your partne­rships and revenues stagnate. And those aren’t your only problems…

If you aren’t providing your customers with the most except­ional experi­ences, you become vulnerable to disruption from compet­itors who will claim they can. They could even disrupt you out of the equation with promises of superior customer experi­ences that they can deliver. The issue isn’t so much that you don’t have those capabi­lit­ies­—it’s that you haven’t seized the opport­unity to provide them.

That’s what’s at stake. Besides these threats, another reason this moment calls for research is that, on its face, it appears to require something of a hybrid between the “why change” and “why stay” stories. In any case, a moment this important shouldn’t demands more than guesswork or hunches about what might work best.

The Five Main Challe­nges:

1. Different enough? It’s hard to be seen as different enough to require action. How do you create a message that’s not what the customer expect­s—t­hat’s unusual enough to generate interest?
2. Important to success? A big part of selling is creating a buying vision in the minds of your customers. How do you craft a message that gets them to see your solutions as vitally important to a vision where they are succes­sful?
3. Personally convin­cing? How do you craft a message that not only shows the value of their business, but also convinces them to become personally invested in propelling that business forward?
4. Willin­gness to change? With so many priorities in play, buyers need to be willing to take this on and embrace change. How do you craft a message facili­tates that?
5. Intention to purcha­se? Ultima­tely, the only thing that matters is whether they purchase or not. How do you craft a message that increases the likelihood of your customer actually buying?

The Why of

The Five Main Conditions

1. Product as the Hero – This was based on the type of message many companies use to announce new solutions. It’s produc­t-o­riented and focused on highli­ghting the new and improved features and benefits.
2. Relati­onship Reinfo­rcement and Emotion – This message uses emotional language to emphasize the idea that the company and vendor are partners. It’s open about having a frank conver­sation about the challenges and opport­unities in a long-term partne­rship.
3. Why Change? – This message has already been proven in our past research to be the message for converting new prospects into customers. It’s disrup­tive, edgy, and we wanted to test it out in this scenario.
4. Why Stay? – Our previous research confirmed this message is best for convincing existing customers to renew. We wanted to see how it would hold up in the middle of an existing customer contract, with an upsell in play.
5. Social Influence – The premise of this message is that peer pressure is a powerful motivator. This condition shows the buyer that many of their peers are making strides and they can’t afford to get left behind.

The Best “Why Evolve” Message

The most effective message across the key areas assessed was the relati­onship reinfo­rcement and emotion condition, which consis­tently outper­formed the others.

The winning condition is something of a hybrid message, borrowing elements from the more disruptive “why change” approach and from the more protec­tionist “why stay” one. An important implic­ation is that this hybrid messag­e—r­ather than a message that strictly challenges their situat­ion—is optimal for performing well in an upsell or cross-sell scenario.

And that makes sense. This message isn’t designed for driving big, disruptive changes or getting a customer to renew. It’s about getting a customer to evolve their vision and their buying habits. This message, summarized in the visual below, ensures customers don’t fall back on using your old guard solutions instead of your newest and highes­t-value innova­tions.

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