Not Too Pushy: Tactics for Effective Upselling

Nov 03, 2010 — Allan Pulga

Everybody, at some point, has been the victim of a pushy upsell. But, when considered from the salesperson’s perspective, upselling is worth the risk of sounding pushy -- there's an extra profit (i.e. commission) to be made.

In wireless retail, the dilemma is simple: How can your salespeople offer an additional (or a better) product/accessory/service to the customer without offending that customer?

Corporate trainer and motivational speaker Jeff Mowatt shares his upselling savvy in his BusinessKnowHow.com column entitled, “30 Seconds to Significant Sales – How to upsell without turning off your customer.”

Mowatt says the best part of upselling 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 conversation is done. You’re already established rapport, identified needs, summarized, presented benefits, asked for the order and handled objections,” he explains.

“Upselling is just presenting the information in a ‘by the way’ assumptive manner.”

For example, a car dealer can inform customers at the point of sale about upholstery protection and undercoating; a shoe salesperson can offer weather protectant spray. Similarly, wireless salespeople can suggest a protective handset case, a Bluetooth headset, app credit, handset protection and more.

“These are usually small purchases that the buyer doesn’t have to put a lot of thought into,” says Mowatt. “The bonus is they can be extremely profitable for the salesperson and for the organization.”

Mowatt’s Three Biggest Mistakes in Upselling:

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

Mowatt’s Upselling Tactics:

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,” says Mowatt.

“To avoid sounding pushy, particularly if the upsell requires some elaboration, ask for the customer’s permission to describe it.”

Using the example of upselling a handset case, don’t ask, “Would you like to buy a protective case as well?” Many customers will feel the case is unnecessary and politely refuse.

Mowatt suggests not asking if customers want it. Assume they want the protective case. Say something like, “To protect your cellphone from bumps and scratches (that’s the benefit) I’ve got a few protective cases for you to look at.”

Don’t just list the cases off by name; describe more benefits. “This one is the most popular case because it’s so sleek and lightweight.”

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,” says Mowatt.

Hands-on demonstration.“One of the most effective upselling techniques is getting the customer to use the product in your location.” Put the handset case over a demo phone. Let the customer feel it and attach it to his/her belt, put it in his/her pocket, and so on. Let them feel like it already belongs to them.

Group related products.“It’s a good idea to group similar add-ons and offer them as an upsell at a package price,” adds Mowatt. Instead of offering just the handset case, offer an affordable package deal with both the case and a Bluetooth headset. The customer saves money and you make two upsells at once.

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