Over the past nine years of hosting the program Your Business on msnbc, I’ve interviewed a number of business owners whose businesses became more profitable because they were able to successfully upsell their customers. Basically, they were able to get their customers to splurge on a bit more than they had originally planned – a little dessert after dinner, a shirt to go with those pants, a massage with that manicure.
I spoke to Steve Strauss, the author of The Small Business Bible, who gave me his five simple rules of up-selling.
1. Wait until the sale is over: If you make the offer while the customer is still deciding on the primary purchase, it will feel pushy and could backfire. If you wait, it looks like you’re merely offering great customer service.
2. Make it affordable: A five dollar add-on to a ninety-nine dollar product may be no big deal, but a five-dollar “extra” on a fifteen dollar product is a whole other story. Upselling works best when the offer is a small addition to the larger purchase.
3. Be casual about it: Up-selling works in a friendly, no-pressure way. “Want some ice cream on that apple pie?,” “A side of fries with that burger?” When it’s not a hard sell, it works well.
4. Point out the benefits: The customer already wants the item they’re buying. For the add-on to work, it should make sense. If they’re buying charcoal, the odds are good they’ll also want lighter fluid. They belong together. If your suggestion is thoughtful, the customer will be glad you made the proposal.
5. Consider “bundling”: If you sell computer printers you can create a bundle that might include extra toner cartridges, fancy photo paper, special cleaning wipes, etc., all combined at a price below the individual costs of the separate items. You’ve increased your sale, and the customer gets a deal on extra stuff for their primary purchase. It’s another form of up-selling.
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