Upselling Strategies: Don’t Leave Money on the Table

“Would you like fries with that, sir?” Every single business can learn something from the phenomenal success of fast-food franchises over the past few decades. That’s the power of upselling.

What is upselling anyhow? Is it about selling more and more to a client? Is it about selling more of the same or simply different product or services? Is it about making them aware of other products or services your company has to offer, even if you don’t personally sell them? Is it about making them aware of products or services your company doesn’t sell but could be of benefit to them? It’s all of the above and more, and you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t learn how to upsell, and do it with grace and ease.

Sometimes the simplest methods are the best, and with sales, this is certainly true. The foundation of all effective sales is building a relationship. Without a strong relationship, your customer will not be inclined to buy a second time, or to think of your company as one to refer to friends and associates. Upselling and cross-selling are not only methods, but also tools to use in the building of strong relationships. Upselling involves more than working hard to understand client needs; it also requires a high level blend of empathy for the customer’s business challenges and staying alert for opportunities to move relationships forward in the sales process. Every time you talk to a client you have an opportunity to service them that you aren’t taking advantage of. And many clients would buy more but they don’t know what you have to offer, they’re not asked, or they’re not asked in the right way.

So when and how do you present new ideas and offering to clients? There truly is no right or wrong answer to this. It’s about being in conversation with your clients all the time. It’s about listening to them. It’s about hearing what they aren’t saying and what’s between the lines of what they are saying. It’s asking questions. Salesmanship is more about listening and questioning than telling and selling. Upselling simply takes this to a new level.

It is a fact that most customers have a higher level of satisfaction when they receive a high-quality product or service than they would ever have with a cheaper, lower-quality version. By listening to your customers and matching their needs with your best product or service for their circumstances, even if it’s a higher priced version than they originally wanted, you will not only increase the profit margin of your sale, but you will also boost your customer’s satisfaction with your company. And we all know that a satisfied customer means a repeat customer – one who refers your business to others.

So now we’ve established the importance of listening in building a relationship with your customers. But what do you listen for? What questions should you be asking? And how do you know when it’s the right time to present a new sales concept? The answer to these questions is bigger than can be addressed in this article, but here are a few hints:

1. Don’t simply sell them what they ask for – not only may you be leaving money on the table but you may not be in best service to the client. Find out what they are trying to accomplish (or the goal) by the purchase of the product or service. You may find out there is something else you have that fits their needs better.

2. Each time you speak to your customers, gather information. Ask them questions about their business (or themselves). What do they see coming up for them in the next 6…12…18 months. What challenges are they facing? What do they see as the biggest gap in where they are versus where they want to be? Create a list of questions that are appropriate for your clients and will strike a chord with them.

3. If you sell one line of products or services, but your company sells additional lines, ask them if they use these others. For example – if you sell life insurance but a colleague in your company sells long-term care, ask your client if they sell/buy long-term care and if so who do they do that through now. If you sell to government, ask them who handles the commercial side. If you sell Toyotas, ask them who they know that would buy a Cadillac. You get the idea.

Upselling isn’t a one time activity. It’s a mindset about being in service to your customers and clients all the time. It’s about thinking bigger than just the one sale in front of you, and focusing on building long-term high trust relationships. It’s about genuine concern and interest in the client/customer – who they are, what’s important to them, how they think, what keeps them awake at night, their challenges – and everything else about them. Upselling isn’t a technique, it’s an attitude. Develop it and you’ll make more sales, bigger sales and have those referrals coming to you all the time.

Your customers have money that they will willingly spend with you. Don’t leave that money on the table!