As we enter into the busiest shopping season of the year, I thought it might help merchants to think about the upselling and cross selling techniques their sales associates use.
I think we have all become accustomed to upselling, and I understand the benefits and why it is so important - if done right. I've been in stores where I have spent a lot of time searching for a product, and understand the frustration that comes with not being able to find what you are looking for. Sales associates are there to help the customer find what they are looking for and make them aware of products that they may not know are available. If done right, this can improve and expedite the customer shopping experience. If done poorly, it can run a good customer out the door, never to return.
According to business dictionary, upselling is "a sales strategy where the seller will provide opportunities to purchase related products or services, often for the sole purpose of making a larger sale".
For example, I went to a bookstore the other day and was a little annoyed at how much pressure I felt to purchase merchandise that I did not want. As I wandered through the store looking around, a kind gentleman asked me if he could help me find something. I was looking for a particular type of book for a child and he pointed me to the right section of the store. I began looking at each book, knowing in my mind what I was looking for, and he continued to show me additional products. It started out being helpful but it soon crossed the line from being helpful to annoying. He tried to convince me to purchase a book (that was more expensive) but was not what I was looking for.
After a fair amount of conversation, I finally convinced him that I wasn't interested in his suggestion. We then went to the cash register where he began the upselling process all over again. First it was to make a donation to a cause that the store was supporting and then he went into their newest Christmas collection.
I really do try to politely decline such suggestions but by the time I finished the sales transaction I wanted to run out of the store and quite honestly may not go back there to shop.
4 Tips for Sales Upselling and Cross Selling - That Enhance the Customer Experience
1. Identify a Searching Customer
I've had many experiences when I was in a store looking for a product and a sales associate was nowhere to be found. Salespeople should be trained to be watchful of customers who seem to be looking for something and help to escort them to the right section of the store. This is the time to show the customer all available products and to explain the different options.
2. Read the Body Language
I know salespeople are taught to be resilient, and not take no for an answer, but they should also be sensitive to customers who are not interested in listening to a sales pitch. Body language is usually pretty clear and salespeople should read the customer and take the hint and back off. If the customer is not making eye contact, and giving one word answers to questions, that usually means they don't want to be bothered. Backing off can mean the difference between a good customer experience and one that leaves the customer annoyed and possibly never returning.
3. Be Available
Customers want to know that someone is nearby to help them if needed but not following them around and making them aware of every product option available. When the salesperson does not allow the customer the needed time to explore merchandise selections, and are continually presenting new purchase choices, they become annoying. No one likes to be annoyed.
4. Know the Products
Salespeople should be trained on all available products and able to answer any customer questions. Customers expect to interact with sales associates who can help them and answer all of their questions.
Upselling and cross selling is a great way to increase revenues and improve the customer experience by educating the shopper on available products, and product features that can enhance the user experience. Training for this type of sales technique needs to be thorough and appropriate so the buying experience is positive resulting in loyal customers that want to return to the business. Rather than an annoying experience that makes the customer want to run out of the door - never to be seen again. And oh by the way, you will probably never even know it.
Patricia Lotich (twitter: @patricialotich) is the founder of The Thriving Small Business and a small business coach. Patricia helps business owners solve problems and develop strategy and goals to achieve objectives. Schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation with Patricia to see how Thriving Small Business can help your organization.