Upselling is the art of helping a customer understand that they can’t live without something they didn’t know they wanted. It’s about awakening the sleeping giant of desire with a non-aggressive, gentle nudge instead of an obnoxious air-horn.
Staying with the giant analogy, you don’t want to frighten someone that can crush you. Customers can crush you just as easily as an angry giant because they can take their money to a competitor, or go home. Does that mean that you need to live by the adage, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? Of course not. You live by the motto, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
To better understand what a persuasive, non-aggressive upsell is, you need to understand what it is not. It is not a pitch that begins with the words “you should,” “you must,” or “you have to.” It is not a demand or an imperative. It’s not loud and in your face. A persuasive upsell is a suggestion or question that fosters customers’ curiosity for your product or service, and makes them wonder whether or not they can live without it.
Why upsell at all if a sale is already made?
Effective upselling is a great way to double or triple the value of a sale. It’s like getting two or three customers for the price of one. So how exactly do you upsell effectively?
Timing Is Everything
Similar to comedy, timing is everything when it comes to upselling. The biggest mistake even the best sales people make is waiting too long to make their move. Many salespeople think that they have to close the big sale before trying to sell additional items. But by then, it’s too late. Your customers are already on their way out of the store.
The best time to start the upsell is during the primary sale by asking questions whose answers point to the upsell. Planting the seed of desire, so to speak, early in the process, and nurturing it throughout the sale guides the customer to practically ask for the upsell.
Product and Customer Knowledge Are Major Keys to Upselling
Product knowledge is more complex than simply suggesting a different variation of a product. Knowing your products is an absolute requirement of effective upselling because any additional product that you try to upsell needs to be complementary to the primary sale. Likewise, customer knowledge requires a certain amount of understanding since not every customer is the same.
A customer who is interested in living a healthy lifestyle probably exercises. If you’re trying to sell this customer a pair of running shoes, you could work listening to music while running into the conversation. If the customer does this, you can mention arm bands for your iPod or iPhone, or headphones that are less likely to fall out of your ears while running. If you sell an armband or pair of headphones, the upsell from the running shoes to this sale is complete.
To increase the effectiveness of upselling, you can create a script. To be clear, scripted does not mean reading from a sheet of paper. Rather, it means a well rehearsed dialog that is polished and sounds natural. Using the running shoes example again, you can design a script targeted to customers who come in to buy running shoes to sell them products related to running. This way, you can increase your sales of armbands, headphones, and other running-related products.
Perfecting a Natural, But Scripted Upsell
Because most sales reps ad lib their upsell, they sometimes forget to include it. Or, they rush to squeeze it in resulting in something that sounds forced and unconvincing. Working from a script assures that the salesperson includes an upsell in every pitch at a point where it doesn’t sound force or rushed.
The final tip for persuasive, non-aggressive upselling is to shut-up and listen. All too often, salespeople forget that the customers may have questions or comments, and they just keep talking. Salespeople need to have a two-way conversation with customers, rather than lecturing them about a product. Sometimes customers’ questions can help advance the upsell for a product, or direct the upsell to a different product that the customer is more likely to purchase. But without listening to the customers, salespeople can’t do this.