Archive for June, 2009

Up$ell Your Way to Retail Success

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Upselling.  It should be sweet music to an owner’s ear.  It is just a nine-letter word, but it actually gets the respect of a four-letter one.  Despite the negative publicity the term upselling was not one of George Carlin’s seven dirty ones you couldn’t say on television.

In its simplest definition, upselling applies to helping a customer decide to purchase beyond what the original sale was intended to be.  This method of selling is one of the highest and most profitable uses of your company’s time.

Whenever I purchase a new pair of dress shoes, the shoe salesman always suggests protective spray, high-end shoe polish, or perhaps a brush to maintain a high gloss on the leather.  My favorite is the cedar shoe-tree to help keep the shape of the shoe over the years.

Shoe Salesman

Shoe Salesman

Being in sales I can truly appreciate an upsell when it is done with ease and confidence.  Over the years I have purchased a number of those products.  These items are much smaller dollar amounts than the shoes but they do add up over time.  Despite the lower cost, the add-ons tend to have much higher margins than the original purchase.  This is why upselling is great for a business to gain and therefore an owner must train the staff to upsell.

The approach to upselling should be easy, almost effortless.  Upselling is just presenting the information in a “by-the-way” assumptive manner to the customer unless:

  • You don’t make an attempt
  • Your technique makes you seem pushy, arrogant or negative
  • Most importantly, you don’t understand what to upsell because you don’t know WHY your customers buy your product to begin with.

In order to upsell, you must understand why people buy.  The focus must be on the customers needs.  The following examples may shed a little different prespective on the aspect of what consumers actually buy:

  1. You don’t buy a candle. You purchase ambience or romance.
  2. When you buy a book you are purchasing knowledge.
  3. Buying a Blackberry provides you productivity.
  4. Want mobility? Buy a laptop computer.
  5. When you buy coffee, what are you buying? _________________________

No matter what your product is, it has a certain meaning for the customer.  KMO customers sell brewed coffee, and in some instances sell bulk coffee beans. So the question is “Why did your customer buy your coffee or why do they stop by your coffeehouse?” I call this “getting to know the unknown wants, needs and desires of someone you have just met for the first time”.  Once you have contemplated and developed some answers you are ready to move on.

There is no need to develop an over-the-top sales approach. This form of selling up is just a natural progression of providing great service and products to your customers.  The style and finesse in how it is accomplished sets the stage for future successes with that customer and others to follow.

Fulfill those wants, needs and desires now by offering value added items or by packaging some of your products together.  Examples of this could be…

  • Have fresh-out-of-the-oven muffins or scones right at your counter to start the morning.  When a customer comes in to buy their morning coffee assume they are really buying a way to start their day and that everyone appreciates a great baked good with their coffee. Talk about how delicious and bursting with fresh blueberries they are and that the crumble topping is your favorite part.  Make a sample available for them to taste.
  • If a customer comes in during the afternoon and buys a cappuccino suggest the the freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies which are only $1.50 for three pieces of afternoon delight.  (What they were buying with an afternoon escape from their mundane job)

    Prepare for Success!

  • Create a commuter special that includes a large coffee, buttered hardroll, New York Times and small orange juice for $4.50.  (What you are offering is added convenience, world understanding, a calm commute even if they get stuck in traffic – all at a value)
  • When a customer purchases a pound of coffee, offer them a FREE medium cup of brewed coffee as a bonus. (What is your customer really buying in this case?_____________________________)

Take it step further…

During the holidays, Pete stops by to buy a pound of coffee to take to a friends party…

What is Pete really buying?  Convenience (You were along the way), good taste ( He is buying specialty coffee, not a can of Folgers), perfect gift (Who doesn’t like coffee?), thoughtfulness (Remembered his friends loves Fair-Trade coffee)

Upsell – As Pete is standing there drinking his FREE cup of coffee, you say “I appreciate you thinking about us and stopping by to get coffee for your friends.  So many of our customers are pressed for time, not sure what to get for people on their list, or are trying to save some money this holiday season.  Seems like you may be feeling some of the same pressures.”  (Who doesn’t experience this during the holidays?)

You continue the upsell approach; “We have been quite successful at making the holidays much more stree-free for folks by creating personalized gift baskets and gift mugs that are sure to get a WOW!  I am sure you have a few people that always are tough to buy for.  If you have already bought them a little something, we can even put that in the gift basket and we can  ship anywhere in the country for you”.

Second delivery of an upsell: “We also now have party trays for breakfast and lunch which are perfect gift for a valued client or vendor and we will even deliver it for you”.

Third possible upsell: Last but not least, “We have begun taking orders for our famous Kringle Krunch Pie.  Pete, if you haven’t had a taste of this pie, it’s like missing a chance to taste a slice of heaven.  We sold out early last year and some folks were disappointed they weren’t able to get it.  This is a perfect gift for those last minute holiday invites we all get and you know you have to bring something.  Pete, who does not like pie?  Just imagine the compliments you’ll get when everybody digs into this delectable treat”.

Pete came in for a pound of coffee and you were able to understand the wants, needs and desires to offer time saving, money-saving and compliment-getting options.

Upselling can be extremely profitable for your business – however many owners feel they are the coffeehouse’s only knowledgeable or skilled salesperson and therefore limit their staff to a rudimentarily backup role. The time taken to train your employees in the art of the up sell will be rewarding for both them and ultimately the business.  A compensation program can be developed to reward staff that excels at bringing in more dollars into you business.   By training them well, you also provide yourself with added freedom.

Remember, upselling your products to a customer that is already purchasing your products will help maximize your revenues and profits. Keep your selling process personal and helpful. By making a small effort to understand why your customers buy and suggesting options that will benefit their lives your customers will appreciate the great service and the feeling of being special.

Take it a step further.

Take it a step further.

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