Dust Off Your Upselling Skills for the Holiday Shopping Season

Upselling doesn't just boost your bottom line — it can also help consumers get more bang for their buck.
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Increase sales this holiday season with effective upselling. (Photo: NCR Silver)

Who is the easiest person in the world to sell to? Someone who is already paying you money.

Knowing how to get customers to upgrade or add onto their purchase is a key skill every retailer must have if they want to increase revenue.

“The key is in first making a connection with the shopper so your suggestions are focused on what they get out of it.” –Bob Phibbs (Photo: Bob Phipps)

According to Bob Phibbs, CEO of New York-based consultancy The Retail Doctor, upselling is all about getting customers to see the value behind every product you sell.

“Most customers aren’t cheap, they’ve simply adopted a mindset that most products are of comparable quality,” he said. “Upselling is where you take someone from a basic model to one with more features.”

Make sure your retail staff are primed to increase sales this holiday season with these three tips for effective upselling.

Get personal

Whether you’re getting customers to upgrade to the latest mobile phone or simply adding an extra shot of flavor to their morning coffee drink, “anyone can be upsold,” said Phibbs. “The key is in first making a connection with the shopper so your suggestions are focused on what they get out of it, [rather than] trying to sell them something they think is useless.”

The best way to build rapport with your customers by focusing on helping find the best solution to their problem. Ask questions and intentionally engage with your shoppers to uncover exactly what they’re looking for and why, rather than just pushing them toward an upscale product because it has a higher price tag.

Related: The Friend Zone: Boosting Sales by Focusing on Relationships

Stay connected

Ali Mirza, sales expert and president of Rose Garden Consulting, said upselling is most effective when you target your most satisfied customers, such as “super shoppers” and others you’ve built a relationship with over time.

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“When someone purchases an item, they are extremely excited about that item. When you show them an avenue to further enhance their experience, they typically will take it.” -Ali Mirza (Photo: Ali Mirza)

Introducing “new and improved” options to your existing client base “is a fantastic way to increase your bottom line,” he said. Selling more to someone who is already familiar with your business generates the same amount of revenue as selling to a new client without the overhead cost of exposing them to your brand and getting them in the door.

For add-on sales, Mirza suggested bundling products together that complement and enhance the customer’s primary purchase.

“When someone purchases an item, they are extremely excited about that item. When you show them an avenue to further enhance their experience, they typically will take it,” he said. In addition to boosting sales, this approach can also reduce buyer’s remorse and add to their loyalty as a customer.

Related: 5 Ways to Give Your Super Shoppers the Royal Treatment

Practice your ask

Knowing which customers to target for upselling and how to get the conversation started is only part of the equation. Your sales staff must also be comfortable making the ask when the opportunity arises.

“Upselling and adding-on are something younger employees resist because it makes them feel inauthentic,” explained Phibbs. With some extra training, you can ensure employees understand that an upsell can actually be beneficial for the shopper. Focus on being genuinely helpful to the customer by showing them how to get more bang for their buck.

“When new merchandise arrives, make sure you train your crew what it goes well with as an upsell,” he suggested. You can use training tactics like role-playing to make upsell training more enjoyable — and develop a stronger, more connected sales team.

Related: How to Use Improv to Create a Fun, More Productive Workplace

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