Customer Experience Articles

30 Seconds to Significant Sales

How to up-sell without turning off your customer

If you and your employees aren’t trained on effective ways to upsell, chances are you either offend customers by being too pushy, or leave money on the table that customers would have willingly spent with you.   Either option is costly.

When organizations bring me in to train employees on how to increase revenues from current customers, I often find that not enough attention is paid to up-selling.

Up-selling refers to when you help a customer decide to buy a little extra or “up-grade” slightly the final purchase.   A car dealer, for example, might inform customers at the time of ordering about upholstery protection and undercoating.   A shoe salesperson might suggest that when you buy a pair of shoes that you also use some weather protectant spray.   These are usually small purchases that the buyer doesn’t have to put a lot of thought into.   The bonus is they can be extremely profitable for you as the sales person and for your organization.

Why up-selling is so profitable

Consider this example.   A customer buys a car with monthly payments of $395.   With that size of investment, there’s very little resistance to adding $2 to the monthly payments for upholstery protection.   For you, however, that additional sale is significant, as over 48 months it adds up to a $98 sale, with a huge profit margin.

Some would say that a $98 sale on a $25,000 vehicle is only a minimal increase in the overall sale.   Why waste your time.   My argument is that if it only takes 30 seconds to make that extra $98 sale, then you’re making more money for the company than with any other activity you do.   If your salary is $20 per hour then doing the math, the 30 seconds you take to upsell costs the company about 17 cents.   If it only costs the company 17 cents to make $98, that’s a huge return on investment.   The fact that it’s attached to a $25,000 sale is completely irrelevant.   So, up-selling is one of the highest and best uses of your time.

Up-selling should be easy

The best part of up-selling is that it’s practically effortless.   Since it’s done after the customer has decided to go ahead with a major purchase, the hard part of the sales conversation has already been done.   You’ve already established rapport, identified needs, summarized, presented benefits, asked for the order and handled objections.   Up-selling is just presenting the information in a “by-the-way” assumptive manner.

The 3 biggest mistakes in upselling:

  1. No attempt is made to upsell.
  2. The salesperson comes across as being pushy.
  3. The upselling is made in an unconvincing manner so the customer generally refuses.

Effective up-selling strategies

Assumptive is the key.   You’ve got to assume that the customer will naturally want this.   Begin the upsell with a brief benefit, then if possible, add something unique about what you’re selling.   To avoid sounding pushy, particularly if the upsell requires some elaboration, ask for the customer’s permission to describe it.

Here’s an example of the wrong way to upsell.   Imagine dining at a restaurant where you’ve just finished a big meal.   The server asks, “Would you care for dessert?”   If you say “Yes”, you might give the impression of overindulging.   So many customers refuse out of politeness.   Result — no sale.

So the savvy server doesn’t ask if the customer wants dessert.   The professional just assumes that when people go out for a meal they are treating themselves.   So of course they’ll want to treat themselves to dessert.   In this case, the server pulls up the dessert tray and says, “To finish off your meal with a little something sweet, (that’s the benefit), I brought the dessert tray over for you.”   Would you like to hear about the most popular ones?”   (asks permission to proceed)

When the customer agrees to hear about the desserts the server doesn’t just list them by name; he describes their benefits.   So rather than saying, “This is chocolate mousse.”   Instead he’d say something like, “If you like chocolate you’ll love this.   We’ve got a chocolate mousse that melts in your mouth and makes you wonder what the ordinary people are doing today.”

Focus on customer needs-not yours.   Don’t try to sell the customer something you wouldn’t buy if you were in their shoes.   It is totally irrelevant whether or not this purchase suits your needs; what is relevant is whether it suits the customer’s.   That perspective empowers you to upsell effectively and with integrity.

Hands on demonstration.   One of the most effective up-selling techniques is getting the customer to use the product in your location.   A hairdresser, for example, might put hair gel in the customer’s hand and show them how to apply it themselves.   By showing the client how to get the salon look at home, they create a value-added upsell.

Group related products.   It’s a good idea to group similar add-ons and offer them as an upsell at a package price.   If someone is getting a haircut and you talk to them about shampoo, it only makes sense to show them a package deal that groups conditioner and shampoo at a package price.

Bottom line

Every business owner should realistically look at whether or not employees could improve the way they up-sell.   For most businesses, a little professional training can make a world of difference.


By Jeff Mowatt (original content – not AI generated)


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Jeff Mowatt is a customer service speaker, customer service training professional, award-winning speaker, and best-selling author.

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