Why Upselling is Probably not Working!

vvvI am continually amazed how poorly upselling is done by most retailers – that is if they actually do it in the first place. Every business wants to sell more to their existing customers, after all, they are already in the store, so it costs no extra to try to get them to buy something else while they are there.

Research points out that it costs at least 7 times more to get a new customer compared to keeping an existing one, so it makes perfect sense to sell more to the ones already in the store.

So why is it done so poorly?

Change the record! (or CD or playlist)

I find that staff in most stores, say exactly the same thing and that line usually starts with “Would you like ……” Now most customers are so used to hearing this line and they know that the staff member is going to ask them to buy something else, so they simply say no. Often before the staff member has even finished what they were saying. Great feedback for the staff member and highly motivating to keep them doing it – NOT!

I came across this sign very recently in Sydney – it even states exactly what the staff will say, no wonder customers are sick of this.

How do you get your staff to do it better?

Change it up – and down

Some more research I came across a little while ago, found out that most customers expect staff to try and upsell to them. So it’s no surprise to them.

I’d suggest you drop any words (or scripts) where you ask the customer to buy. These are the sentences that are on my hit list to remove from every retailers vocabulary (in most cases):

  • “Would you like ……?”
  • “Are you interested in …….?”
  • “Do you want ….?”

These are all closed questions and the staff member is asking the customer to buy and the easy out for customers is to say no. That is the end of the conversation – or you could make it worse by asking “Are you sure?” A sure fire way to lose that customer for good! The only advantage that a closed question has is they are quick, so they can be good when it’s busy.

A much better way is to have a short conversation with the customer to find out if they are actually interested in what you have to offer. This way you never have to ask them to buy anything, you are just finding out if they like to know what you have to offer.

An example is starting off a conversation with the words “Have you seen our special today?” A lot of customers will respond with “No, what is it?” This allows the staff member to tell them what the offer is and they then let the customer decide if they want to buy it or not. If the customer is not interested in what you have to offer the usual response is “No thanks.”

This simple question radically changes the way customers and staff feel about this process. Customers do not feel like the staff member is being pushy and staff don’t get upset with customers continually saying NO. In fact they want the No’s as this gives them permission to provide information to the customer.

Some more examples are:

“Has anyone told you about …?’’

“Were you aware ….?”

“Have you tried …….”

So if you and your staff are finding the upsell tough, try changing what you are saying. Oh and by the way, don’t even call it upselling. You could try the term “Product Awareness”, as after all that’s what you are doing – making the customer aware of a product that the probably don’t know about.

Have fun, and if you need some help with this process we’d love to chat.

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.