This Year, Begin to Upsell

Dec 13, 2021

A number of years ago, I learned the importance of upselling thanks to my son, who at the time had just started out in commercial real estate. He had received an inbound lead from someone interested in 6,000 square feet of warehouse space. In San Francisco, finding a warehouse that small is difficult and the commissions earned are small.  Yet, he followed up and met the client in person.  When he finished learning the specifics of what the client was looking for, he asked one final question, “Do you have a requirement in any other market we can help you in?”  As it turned out, the client was looking to secure office and warehouse space throughout the United States in advance of launching a new medical product. They needed to have offices in 100 cities within the next 18 months. My son connected the client to an affiliate of ours, TCN Worldwide, which eventually led to a $400,000 referral bonus. That is what we call an upsell.

No matter what kind of sales industry you are in, you can upsell.  If you are selling copiers– you may find out that a client is planning to move offices, which can turn into a lead for a commercial real estate broker who can find them space, and an architect who can plan out the space, or an IT person who can wire the space.

This does not mean that you will necessarily earn direct referrals from upselling, but it could make you become so valuable of a lead source, that the same referrals will begin to refer your business for what you are selling.

Upselling is simple. Just ask your client (or potential clients) questions. They may not be interested in buying your service now, but maybe they need other things that you can help them with.  This does two things– first, you will become a valuable and credible source to both your client and your referrals.  Second, your name will be top of mind for the client the next time they will need your services.

In real estate, upselling is also very easy. Just ask the question,  “Do you have any other real estate needs we can help you with?” My belief is to never say no to any request.  If you can’t service the client yourself, you can always find someone who can.  This could lead to a serious new vein of business for your referrals.

For years, people who successfully refer business have been known as “Rainmakers.” Learn to become rainmaker, and your personal business will grow while you also develop a lead generation system that will boast your sales in the long run.

Written by: Hans Hansson

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Hans Hansson is President of Starboard Commercial Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email [email protected] or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,