Having Trouble Getting your Staff to Upsell – It’s no Wonder!!

upsellingEvery retail business wants to sell more to their customers and therefore grow their average sale.

Most businesses that I work with include an Upsell process in their steps of service so staff know that it is a requirement to do this.

Here is where it all falls apart. And there are 2 major problems that I see all the time.

Problem number 1) Rarely is it discussed with staff members, the reasons why they need to upsell – most staff think it’s only about making more money for the business. But what is in it for the customer? A good deal that saves them money, enjoying a new product they haven’t tried before, ensuring they get the accessories they need or might like for an outfit or bedroom, helping them to get better faster or protecting their purchase with things like shoe care or a mattress protector. There are a number of reasons why customers benefit from being made aware of additional products, all we have to do is ask the staff member why they think the customer can benefit and wait for them to respond. If they know the reasons they are more likely to have a go.

Problem number 2) Little or no training is provided to staff on how to upsell, they are often just told to do it. So what happens? They do it poorly, it doesn’t work, they get less than positive feedback from customers so they give up. If staff are trying to upsell from the counter the most common words I hear are “Would you like ….” I’m in stores a lot and I observe the customers reaction when they hear these words and most cut the staff member off and say “NO”. End of story, nowhere to go apart from “Maybe next time”.

The Solution

I have been working with clients for a long time helping them to improve in this area and chatting with staff about the reasons why they should upsell, from the customer’s point of view, is a start. It helps to reduce one barrier.

Now onto the biggest hurdle – the technique to use. Because customers are so bombarded with “Would you like …” questions they shut staff down pretty quickly. So avoid asking customers this closed question. So what can you say?

Recently I was at a store and I asked a staff member what they said to customers re the focus product they were trying to upsell. She screwed her face up and said “Would you like some cake with your coffee?” I could immediately tell, she didn’t like doing it this way – but she didn’t know any other way. When I suggested instead of asking the customer to buy the product, simply make them aware, she was very interested. So I shared one simple technique – “How about saying this to the customer – Have you seen our special today?” Well her eyes lit up and she loved that line.

Another step closer. Now the test, I asked her if she’d be ok to have a go with the next customer. “Ok” was her slightly hesitant reply, but she did it. We then stepped in and gave her positive feedback for having a go with this new technique. No immediate sale resulted, but she felt so much better doing it this way and was delighted to receive positive feedback and she therefore kept on trying.

Another step closer. She continued using this new technique and got more comfortable with the words. After 3 goes she sold 2 deals and her face lit up, she was so excited. High fives resulted and she kept doing it. End result was, 9 deals for the shift – her best ever result.

The entire process to brief the staff member took about 5 minutes and the follow up feedback about 5 seconds, so it’s a quick process that gets results. Of course ongoing feedback, goal setting, reviewing results is critical for this to stick, but this is a small effort compared to the results a store can achieve.

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service and selling skills.