“Do you want fries with that?”
If you’ve answered yes to this or a similar question in your life before, you’ve been upsold.
Upselling is a powerful technique you can use to boost your sales and overall revenue. The term refers to the act of increasing the amount a customer pays per purchase. Usually, this is done by adding some quantity or quality to the purchase — sometimes both.
Adding fries to your meal is an easy example. You’re already buying a burger, so wouldn’t you like fries with that? Of course you would. Fries are cheap, taste delicious, and are an easy addition to your purchase. Crucially, offering fries with a burger is a benign, generally inoffensive way to increase a customer’s purchase.
If you upsell too much, too quickly, or too obviously, however, you risk compromising your relationship with your customer. And without good customer relations, you risk losing the very lifeblood of your business. So while upselling is a great tactic for boosting your bottom line, you need to use this tactic tactfully. Read on to learn about how to upsell your customers without running the risk of becoming unbearable.
1. Manage Your Relationships
As noted, your business is nothing without customer relationships. The better your customers feel about you and your business, the more likely they are to buy when they visit. And the more likely they are to visit at all. So it’s essential for you to focus on developing your customer relations first and foremost.
One of the best ways to do this is to leverage customer relationship management tools to forge closer connections. CRM solutions are digital platforms that help keep all your customers’ information in one place. People generally appreciate being remembered and cared for. So the more intel you have on them, their past transactions, and their purchasing preferences, the better. By knowing important details like these, you can deepen your rapport with your customers.
This is where the upselling starts to come in. If a customer buys a pair of pants, you can recommend a belt to go with them. The purchase of a cashmere sweater can be followed by care suggestions, along with a discount offer on wool detergent or a cashmere comb. By establishing your trustworthiness and credibility, customers will also begin to take your recommendations into greater consideration. The key is to make those recommendations good ones.
2. Make Good Recommendations
What makes a recommendation good? Context. One reason McDonald’s famous “Do you want fries with that?” upsell works so well is because … who doesn’t want fries with that? While fries aren’t exactly nutritious, neither is a burger. The fries are a good upsell because they’re an easy addition that fits the initial context of the burger’s purchase.
Now, what makes a recommendation good for your customers depends on your business’s and your customers’ respective contexts. Let’s say you run a new gym and you’re trying to find opportunities to upsell your customers. You have one customer — let’s call him Todd — who has a basic membership package.
Todd comes into your gym three times a week and loves to use the stationary bikes. The problem is, you only have a couple bikes in the main workout area, and they’re often occupied. Todd doesn’t always get his favorite workout in and sometimes leaves appearing noticeably frustrated, so you note this in your CRM.
The next time Todd checks in, your CRM brings up your note about his frustrations. You bring up the issue with him, mentioning that you have a spin class package on offer. Elated, Todd purchases the package and starts attending spin classes on the regular. The important point here is that you’ve been paying attention to an individual customer’s specific wants and needs. Contextually, your upsell is perfect, as it addresses one of those needs so you can both walk away happy.
3. Give to Receive
Sometimes in life, you need to give a little before you get a little, and the same can be true in business. While “first one’s free” is a line often associated with more unscrupulous ventures, the principle still stands. Think about the last time someone genuinely gave you something with no strings attached. You probably felt good about receiving that gift, which is why many businesses periodically give away samples.
If you have a product that people would use regularly, free samples are a simple way for customers to see whether they’re interested. Businesses that specialize in beauty products provide a great example of this gambit. Think of all the beauty stores that offer free sample sizes of creams, perfumes, cleansers, and gels. These are a perfect bite-sized taste that helps customers find products they like and tempts them to buy full-sized items.
Using your CRM, you can easily track your customers’ past purchases. If a customer routinely buys a foundation for acne-prone skin, give them a sample of your toner or oil-free concealer. Both products are likely to address problems the customer has, making these product suggestions helpful rather than pushy. You earn the upsell, and they get a way to avoid new blemishes or cover up the ones they have.
Thoughtfulness Is Key
At first blush, you may think upselling is obnoxious regardless of circumstance. However, that’s only truly the case if your only goal is to squeeze money out of your customers. When you’re offering ways to make their lives easier, better, or more enjoyable, the calculus changes. Good business can be done morally, and doing so involves actually caring about the person behind the consumer.
In all cases, upselling well involves being genuinely thoughtful. The more thought you put into your relationships with your customers, the more natural overlap you’ll discover. You’ll start to see how their wants and needs intersect with your opportunities to sell them more. A good upsell is one that genuinely provides contextual value to both parties involved without compromising the relationship. It’s as natural as getting golden, hot fries with a juicy burger.