Monday, June 26, 2006

The Downside of Upselling

Like all of you, I hate the idea of leaving money on the table. That is why I like the idea of "upselling". Simply put upselling is offering your customer the opportunity to add additional NEEDED items to his or her order. My guess is that you have experienced upselling in your daily life. Fast food joints are notorious upsellers, constantly asking “would you like fries with that?”

So what is the downside of upselling?

It's Boring!!! When your upsell is rote, as in "would you like fries with that", your customer not only expects it, but is most likely not even listening. Even if you have a process or script that you have to follow at your business, that doesn't mean that you can't have some fun and be creative. Even in the case of fast food franchises, where the cashier is required to ask the customer to add to their orders, the cashier could say something different like " Hey you look hungry today...would you like add our amazing crisp fries to your order?" Surprise your customer with the unexpected.

It's Impersonal!!!
My friend Peggy says "I am offended when I am 'cookie cuttered'. At least use my name, that way I know that you know who you are talking to." When you offer the same upsell to each and every customer, you lose the opportunity to make your offer personally meaningful. Everytime you offer your customer an additional item you should be sure you understand your customer well enough to give them something that has value to them.

It's Annoying!!!
When my husband goes to get his morning coffee from his favorite coffee shop he just wants his coffee. Even though he has been going in every work day for the last 2 years they still ask him if he would like a scone. Everyday for the last 2 years he has turned them down. By continually asking him the same question and getting the same answer, they have risked his good will. If you know your customer doesn’t want what you have to offer…stop asking.

It's not Done Correctly
Most of the problems with upselling comes down to this issue. Truly, good upselling is a combination of process and attitude.

What do I mean by "done correctly"? First of all it is essential that you know your customer well enough, so that your offer has value in their lives. That kind of deep understanding of your customer comes from having a process that has you asking questions and digging deeper. As Steve Waterhouse in his “Total Customer Selling Process” (TCS) states, you need to “step back” and look at who and what are influencing your customer. This global view allows you to really understand your customer.

Secondly, it needs to be done with “true caring”. Don’t offer them something they don’t need or want just to make more money. “True caring” means you genuinely want to help your customer, and you only offer that which has real value to them. That you act with integrity.

So who benefits from upselling? Both you and your customer should benefit. First of all, it allows you to make more money from your customer. Obviously that benefit alone is why upselling has become ubiquitous in most fast food franchises. But if done correctly, the true benefit is to your customer. You can help your customer become aware of additional products and services that will meet their needs and solves their problems.

If you are in the customer service business you should consider upselling as one more way of helping your customers. Your job is being a problem solver. What are your customer’s problems? And how can your products and/or services solve those problems?

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