Supermarket: Upselling will make a business more profitable and leave customers more satisfied. A good salesperson can add perceived value to a sale that the customer is already willing to make, as well as offer upgrades to purchases that increase the value and the bottom line, benefiting everyone.
Know your products intimately. The more you know about your products, the more you will know about how different products can add value and convenience to the product your customer is buying, as well as how to recommend upgrades or alternatives. Customers want to buy from people who know more about products than they do. Your goal as the salesperson is to let the customer know how they could easily make the product they want better, which means you have to know that product inside and out. Do your homework to make the upsell.
- If you work at a bookstore with a large selection of fantasy books, it’d be a good idea to read the big hits in the genre if you want to make sales in that section. If you think Gandalf was the best character in the Goblet of Fire you’re not going to be a very convincing seller of fantasy books.
Read your customer. A good salesperson will be able to quickly give customers a read and tailor their sales technique to the individual. Whether you’re in wholesale or retail, a salesperson needs to let the customer’s desires drive the sale.
- In a retail setting, try to distinguish between browsing customers who are unlikely to buy things and customers who seem to be actively looking for an item. If a customer seems to be browsing without aim, make contact and ask if you can be of assistance. Listen actively before attempting to upsell them right off the bat with an expensive feature item. If a customer seems to be shopping actively, start thinking of an upselling strategy based on their purchases or interests.
- If you’re selling wholesale, try to get a sense of the customer’s needs by asking lots of questions. Why is the customer buying so many plastic cups? What else might you be able provide them to make that goal easier and more convenient?
Make an initial contact. Talk to the customer by making friendly contact, greeting them, and making yourself available for questions and assistance. Find out what it is your customer wants and use that desire to begin the process of making the sale.
- If your bookstore customer is browsing interestedly through the Chronicles of Narnia, start your contact by complimenting their taste: “What a great series–which have you read?” Listen to them and engage in friendly conversation if the customer seems up for it. Bring up other series they might be interested in, like the Spiderwick Chronicles or the Lord of the Rings.
Recognize when hanging back will be a more effective sales technique. One of the most-complained about aspects of aggressive sales is the ubiquitous “random” upsell. It’s one thing to offer additional related purchases (LOTR, bookmarks, etc.) in a friendly way at the counter, but making automatic attempts at selling the customer on the highest-end product without listening to their interests is likely to turn lots of customers off.
- If you approach the Narnia customer and try to sell them on the new Steve Jobs biography in hardback, which the store’s running a sale on because of a big back-stock, it’s likely to confound and irritate because it’s a transparent upsell. Customers aren’t stupid.
- Lay the seed of an upsell by providing a variety of other purchase options and let the customer decide. Make your suggestions related and of benefit to the customer, not of benefit to your bottom line.
Let the customer decide what is affordable. The price of the item you’re going to try to upsell shouldn’t come into play until you’ve already made the case for the item. Connect the most appropriate selection to the customer’s desire and let them consider the price on their own.
- Likewise, many salespeople hesitate to make suggestions to a customer already carrying an armload of merchandise, fearing that the bill will freak the customer out. Not your problem. Be honest and provide the most valuable options for the customer, as you see it, and let them decide.
Be specific and offer a variety of options. Highlight at least three price ranges of options for the customer trying to make a decision. On their own, a customer will likely go for the option they perceive to have the most value. Without understanding the features, however, this likely means that the customer will go for the cheapest option. If you make a good case for all the options, you’ve at least given them the opportunity to make a more informed choice, which means they’re likely to spend a bit more because you’ve helped them become more informed.
- Highlight the features, don’t highlight the price. Make the most attractive thing in the transaction some aspect of the item, not the difference in the price tag.
Make the items real. In a retail setting, put the item in the customer’s hand. Pick the items up and hand them to the customer, letting them feel, examine, and enjoy while you describe the features and the benefits of making the additional purchase. Once something is in hand, it’s a lot harder psychologically for the customer to walk out without anything.
- In a phone sale, clearly distinguish between different options to make it easier on the customer. Listen to their questions and help to distinguish between the different levels of quality, offering friendly advice to get them the best deal. Description will make the sale.
Do the customer a favour. One of the best moments is when your customer not only returns to your place of business to shop again, but wants to find you to sell to them again, specifically. Doing everything in your power to ensure repeat business and gain a long-term customer is one of the best kinds of upselling you can do, no matter what your line of sales. If your customer perceives what you’re doing as a favour, they’re much more likely to return to the place where they’re “treated right.”
- One of the best ways to do your customer a favour is, surprisingly, to steer them toward a cheaper–but not the cheapest–option. There’s nothing more convincing than lowering your voice and saying, “Now, I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but this brand is so overpriced, it’s ridiculous. This other option gets you the same features and you’re sacrificing none of the quality, in my opinion. This is what I use at home.”
Anticipate objections. Customers are likely to have lots of knee-jerk responses to the idea of spending more money. To close the deal, take the initiative to make the sale happen quickly before they think too much. If you’ve sold the Narnia-reader on the first LOTR book as well, offer to ring up the purchases while she continues browsing. Hold the items up front, ready to go.
Reassure and empathize. This is the single most important part of this selling method. It is very important that you reinforce your customer’s purchase at the end of the sale, making it sound like it was all their decision and thinking. Saying something like, “Great choices today, I think you’re going to be really happy with this. Come back soon and let me know what you think of it!”
- Make yourself available by providing a business card and contact info so your customer can get in touch directly, or at least give them a company card and write your name on the back of it. Best case scenario, you’ll form a bond with your customer and possibly win a patron.
Be yourself. It’s a common myth that extroverts are more effective salespeople than introverts, while studies show that, in truth, both are equally ineffective. The best salespeople are versatile, with the ability to tailor their personality and style to the customer’s preferred method of interaction. Look to make connections with a customer based on genuine interaction, coming from a place of your expertise with the product, and your empathy with the customer’s desires.
- You must feel genuine excitement and enthusiasm for a customer’s purchases. It’s okay to repeat or rephrase some of your conversation during the sale, but avoid parroting the same lines and giving the impression that you’re reading from a script. Be genuine and be honest, and you’ll consistently be able to upsell.