You Want Fries With That? 4 Tips for Effective Upselling

How to Train Your Employees on the Art of Upsell

Every customer who sits down at your restaurant, checks in at your spa or walks into your shop (in the real world or online) represents revenue for your business — but exactly how much depends in part on how well you’ve trained your employees in the art of the upsell. It’s all in the approach.

“People hate to be sold, but they love to buy,” says Kevin Gaither, senior vice president at ZipRecruiter in Santa Monica, California. What’s the secret to ringing up bigger tickets? Gaither shares some tried-and-true tricks for closing bigger deals.

  1. Don’t make assumptions about what customers can afford. Your employees might never pay $100 for a tricked-out phone case, but the customer who comes into the mall for the latest iPhone may not flinch at that price tag. Encourage employees to ignore their own frugal instincts, says Gaither. Whether employees can afford a two-hour massage or that $100 bottle of wine is irrelevant. It might be exactly the right thing for the customer who’s had a really long week or is celebrating a special occasion. 

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  2. Ask the right questions. The best salespeople know exactly which questions to ask to understand what’s important to customers and how to lead them to specific products or services. Don’t just automatically pitch an insurance plan with that iPhone, advises Gaither. Instead, ask a question to start the conversation. Start with “Have you ever dropped your phone?” Unless the customer tells you she carries it in her purse 100% of the time, the answer is probably yes, offering an opportunity to talk about your insurance plans. Even if the answer to the first question is no, be on the lookout for other clues: A PTA keychain or stroller might prompt a follow-up like “Do you ever hand your phone to your kid?” The more your staff knows about your customers, the better they can tailor their upsell pitches.
  3. Advise and recommend. “Think of yourself as the sommelier of your business,” Gaither says. There’s a big difference between “We’ve got a great deal on facials today” and “How important is skin care to you? Would you be interested in a customized consultation with one of our skin care specialists?” Teach your employees Gaither’s magic upsell phrase: Based on what you’ve told me, I think you’d like… Employees who make recommendations specific to customers’ needs see more upsell success. 

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  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Whether they’re waiters, spa and salon receptionists, or retail workers, employees need to think of themselves as salespeople — and effective salespeople are never afraid to ask customers to buy. “The worst thing that happens is the customer says no,“ says Gaither. “But they’ll never get a ‘yes’ if they don’t ask in the first place.”

Remember, you’ll see more of the behavior you reward. If boosting the amount of your average sale is a goal, make it worth your employees’ while. Now that you’ve got a roadmap for teaching your staff how to upsell, consider running short sales contests or upping commissions on add-on sales to motivate your team. More revenue from the same customers – – now that’s a growth technique every small business owner can get behind!

Start your free 14-day trial of When I Work! Click here to start scheduling your employees today.