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Upselling Techniques – A Sneaky Trick or Entirely Appropriate?


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If you’d rather read the transcript it’s here below.


UpsellingIs it a nasty sneaky trick? Or is it entirely appropriate behavior and something you should be doing?

I hope you won’t be surprised when I tell you what my opinion is.

You should be familiar with McDonald’s upsell question, “Would you like fries with that?” I hope you are. I would be surprised if you’re not. It’s a cliche. It’s been mentioned in almost every sales & marketing workshop, and sales training course I’ve been on in the last 20 years. And the reason it is, is because upselling techniques, and that question, in particular, is so useful. People respond really well to an upsell question. In other words, some of them say, “Yes, I’ll have chips please”. So when we’re asked an upsell question, some of us buy the new thing, and that’s its power.

As a business, that’s a lovely thing. You spend marketing resources, money or time, getting that person to give your business a call, or getting that person to make an enquiry. And then you spend sales time getting to know them a bit, understanding what they want, making friends, liking each other, establishing rapport and trust, and you got them to a point where they bought something.

You’ve already established. They’re already there. You’ve already established the like and trust. It’s much easier in terms of resource and expenditure for your business to get them to buy something else. So from a business perspective, it’s great. You could sell them a bit more. Of course, it would be great to be an additional sale without that additional expenditure of results like I’ve said.

McDonald’s (I’ve been told) attributed 20% of their profits to that simple question and 30% increased revenue. I can’t quite remember the numbers, there’s loads.

So let’s agree that it’s good for business. They’re having an upsell question and having it asked is a powerful revenue increaser for you.

Now, let’s cover or address the ogre, the discomfort that you feel when I talk to you about the upselling techniques.

Most trades business owners that I know feel slightly uncomfortable when I talk about asking upsell questions.

Most of us like to think of ourselves as ethical and having integrity and wanting to do a good job for fair pay and somehow while we’re there saying to people ‘Would you want anything else?’, feels a bit dirty or manipulative or sneaky or something. I know it does. I felt that feeling myself. I certainly felt the reluctance to ask the question to myself.

So it does feel slightly dirty I think. But most likely, we’re taking advantage of this friendliness or rapport or trust that we’ve built while they lower their guard.

I know that most of my clients, when I first talk to them, will avoid it. They’d really rather not and most businesses would really rather go and find a new customer and sell them something that they say they want rather than try and say to this guy, “Let me sell you another thing as well”. It’s a mistake to do that and I’m saying to you, you’re leaving money on the table by doing that.

We have a conundrum. There’s an opportunity to get additional revenue, which is great for your business, but you’re a bit reluctant to do it because you feel a bit bad.

So how do we solve it?

I cleverly solve it in my business by only having one product so I can’t upsell you anything. I charge so much already that I feel pretty much like I ought to include everything in it.

So it’s not really an issue for me, but how do you solve it in a trade business? It’s a very particular environment. Remember I’m a business coach for tradies. I almost forgot to mention that. I help you grow and scale.

I help you get over yourself. I help you get over your reluctance to do things like this, to put your business out there or put yourself out there.

I certainly hope you just stop leaving money on the table, which is something I believe this does.

If you don’t ask the upsell question, you’re leaving money on the table for another trade business to pick up later.

Recommended Reading: Are you using upsell questions? You should be

How do we solve it?

You start by understanding that pushy or manipulative is not what we’re aiming for here. I’m not going to try and persuade you that you should play people or be sneaky.

What you should do is ask the upsell question. You should ask every customer. You should ask appropriate questions – ones they might reasonably want to buy while you’re there, useful, or reasonable upgrades, or spot opportunities for additional work they might like to do and then ask them if they want to.

Don’t try and pressure them or manipulate them into saying, “Yes”. Ask the question and accept their answer. That’s what McDonald’s does too. They don’t try and persuade you. They know you want chips. They just ask you if you want them and you decide.

I don’t know anybody who feels unduly pressured when McDonald’s spotty little kid says, “Do you want fries with that? I know in my experience, all I think is, “Do I? Do I want fries with it?” You’d say “Yes, I do.”

  1. You should make it a process. You should get over yourself, and you should let your staff get over themselves and ask the question.
  2. You should plan it. You should plan the questions, and you should make it a process so that every person in your business who’s in that position to ask the upsell question, does so, and has checklists of all the tools to make sure they do so, and they can’t forget, and they don’t forget because the power of the upsell question of course, is asking it to everybody. And the ones who say, “Yes” buy the other thing, and the ones who don’t, don’t.
  3. You have to ask everybody. The questions will be different for every business. It will be different if you’re a maintenance business, and you’re on somebody’s site. I think the question there or the nice question there is, “Is there anything else you want me to do while I’m here?” Or even, “Is there anything else you want me to look at while I’m here?”

And it’s a bit different if perhaps you’re doing a project. It’s all about what the scope was and whether you can expand the scope and use variations to do that. And again, you shouldn’t do it in an underhand way. But if opportunities arise to say to somebody, “Hey did you realise here we could do this?” then you might as well and you probably should give them the opportunity to make their project better if they want to. They can say, “No, it’s alright.”

So the trick is to:

  1. Plan it.
  2. Systematise it.
  3. Do it a lot like McDonald’s.

I had an electrician once here in Byron Bay. He was a client a few years ago and he told me that he got 25% of his entire revenue while he was on site by doing exactly that – seeing if there was anything else people needed to know while he was there.

So, don’t leave that money (25%) of your revenue on the table for someone else to pick up later.

Call me or book a time with me. I’ll help you think through what your upselling techniques should be and how you can plan to ask them.

See you later.

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About the Author

Jon Dale

Jon likes helping business owners and especially owners of trades businesses. Life can be a bit frustrating when you run a business and a trade business can be even more so. Jon reckons this stuff is fixable and that you can fix it by making some fairly simple changes to the way you do things. In fact, he runs a free monthly webinar to help explain the process further of moving your business from manual to scalable.

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