Is Upselling Good or Bad?

By John Burwell, Jr., Service & Sales Coach

I am sure many of you have seen the popular show Myth Busters. They take a subject and either prove that it is true or prove that it’s not. Today I want to take on the topic of upselling and put it to the test.

I was shopping at an area retailer recently and overheard a customer complaining to a manager that the sales associate was trying to upsell them. I had actually watched the sales associate ask the customer some questions to get a better understanding of their likes and needs. He came back with 3 options for the customer to choose from actually saying “I know this is what you wanted but based on what you told me I brought you a couple of others to look at.” As I watched the interaction play out it reminded me of our businesses and how our efforts to help customers is sometimes perceived.

As consumers, everywhere we turn it seems we’re faced with someone trying to sell us more than we intended or feel we need - upsell us. You can see it when you go to buy a car, a new TV, even eating at a fast food restaurant. As contractors we may have been accused as well.

Here is the myth, upselling is bad. True or not true. I’m going to argue it’s both and it depends entirely on your intention and the customers perception. If we offer additional options and products without understanding the wants and the needs of our customer and only offer them as a means to increase sales – then yes, upselling is bad. However, if we offer additional options and products as a means of providing better service and a better experience for our customer – then no, upselling is not bad.

What we call it here at the Blue Collar Success Group and with our own company, Peterson Plumbing, is UPSERVING. Please be mindful though you can’t just offer addition options without connecting to the “why” with the homeowner. A leaking faucet in the customers mind only needs to be repaired. If we start talking about replacement or upgrade we are not serving with the best intention. When we help them see how they can benefit by what we are recommending we strongly increase the chances of them picking additional options. We are able to increase the service experience for them, allowing the customer to feel good about spending their hard earned money with us.

By asking questions and listening to customers we are able to better identify the things that will benefit the customer, their family, their systems, and their investment.

So we have busted the myth of upselling and now know that it is upserving for us and our customer.

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