Wikipedia describes upselling as ‘a sales technique whereby a saleperson induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. Upselling usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, but upselling can also be simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously. Upselling implies selling something that is more profitable or otherwise preferable for the seller instead of the original sale’. But is it just about increasing the customer spend, or is it also about giving the customer a better all round experience, giving them something they might have forgotten to order, or never even thought of?
McDonalds of course are the masters of this – have you ever not been offered fries or a drink to go with your burger. And when was the last time you bought an electrical appliance and not been told the benefits of an extended warranty?
What to promote
So in order to do this effectivley the fist thing is to determine which are the products or services you wish to promote. It obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, but there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria. Unless what you are promoting is perceived as value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and does little to build your customer’s loyalty or trust. It’s also important to distinguish between high selling price and profitablilty and appropriateness to meet the cusomters’ needs. For example upselling to a more expensive bottle of wine when it does not appeal to the customers’ tastes.
Staff need to fully understand each of the products and services available:
- What are the high profit items
- What are the component parts of any packages
- What’s not included, but may be relevant to offer to the customer
- What are the ingredients in a dish
- What does it taste like
- What are the best accompaniments to a dish
Allow staff to experience all the products and services first hand – this will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about it, and it will certainly be easier to evoke emotional appeal through vivid descriptions of taste, smell, feel, if they’ve experienced them themselves.
Spot the opportunities
Let them identify all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to upsell – not just in their own department – but across all areas.
- Options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms
- In the restaurant – bottled water, suggestions for starters, accompaniments, side orders, desserts, dessert wine, specialist coffees, after dinner drinks
- Bar – branded beers, snack items, pastries with their coffee
I’m sure you’ll have many more specifics for your own operation
It’s also about timing – for example selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still too full, and go straight on to coffee; ask too late and they have gone off the idea, and want to head off home.
Teach staff the mechanics of upselling
- The need for open questions to identify what the customer wants
- How to listen actively to customers’ requests or preferences
- How to respond, and make suggestions, or offer alternatives that best meet the customers needs
- How would they describe each of your products and services? Rather than a script, allow them to develop their own dialogue, one that comes naturally to them, rather than something they have to remember and run the risk of forgetting.
Practice makes perfect
It’s all very well knowing what to say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope! Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios.
Plan for objections
Whether an objection is perceived or real, staff need to know how to deal with these. One awkward question can shatter confidence, so train staff to get to spot and handle different situations.
- Distinguish between a definite ‘No’, and a simple request for more information before buying
- When its just a matter of timing – they are too full now, but ask me again in 10 minutes
- They want something more, but you’ve just offered the wrong thing
- Explain the need to identify the nature of the objection by asking open questions
- How to demonstrate empathy and understanding of the customer’s perspective
- How to gain trust by matching the response or offering to meet the customer’s needs
Link your upselling activity to some goals. This might simply be a target to sell x number of a certain product or service, or may be linked to specific financial profit targets. Whatever goals you set ensure these are clearly measurable and achievable, that any incentive is equitable so everyone is motivated to contribute, and that you give regular updates on progress.
Guide and support
Don’t assume because you’ve told people how to do something they will be able to just go out and deliver it consistently. Observe how your staff handle the upselling conversation and give them feedback after the event on what they did well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate support and guidance on areas where they need more help.
If you’d like some help or advice with your own staff training please give me a call or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org