Upselling strategy involves a technique used in sales for convincing the customer to increase the size of their original purchase. The seller offers buyers an array of upgrades, add-ons and expensive bells and whistles.
If this sounds like a sleazy sales technique, you are right.
Why? Because we have all been on the receiving end of retail upselling strategy deployed when we are most vulnerable: making a large-scale, emotionally-laden purchase, such as a car or a wide-screen TV. That TV gets wider and wider the more the sales guy at the big box store keeps gazing into the screen playing an action movie and talking to your hubby. Trust me on that one.
Let’s stay on task here. Your goal, as a sales person of worth, is to create a compelling reason for customers to do business with you, now and in the future. Your upselling strategy is focused on more than the first sale. Upselling strategy impacts customer success for customer retention.
It’s not just about adding bells and whistles to the first sale.
The folks reading this blog are, for the most part, not selling in a retail environment. You manufacture and sell capital equipment and software platforms, you create and sell systems of interrelated components, you build monumental creations. You sell serious stuff to serious decision makers focused on making a serious impact on their industries.
Why does your upselling strategy still sound like a relic of the retail past, a commodity spiel?
Buyers are skeptical. That’s why their pushback starts long before they start objecting to your upselling strategy.
Every B2B buyer you sell to is a “retail” buyer in their real life outside of work.
Buyers know how vulnerable they are to upselling strategy. They can’t help themselves. But that’s something you, as a seller, will never find out about. They are not going to let you see the chink in their buying armor.
Developing insight into how retail mindset impacts and derails your upselling strategy is critical to not only your sales success, but also the long term success of your customers.
Your current upselling strategy does not make sense because:
- Your buyers view upselling as obligatory and non-essential rather than compelling and critical-to-success. They already factor in the need for periodic upgrades and training into the overall cost of ownership of your products, services and platforms. Are they eagerly anticipating their next opportunity to buy from you or do they perceive upgrades and training as line items to be traded off, reduced and delayed as long as possible?
- Your upselling strategy remains a selling effort rather than a collaboration initiative. You ignore the folks influencing the decision: the end users. Once your equipment, products and platforms are integrated and humming along, your buyers are out of the feedback loop. Are you, as a seller, off to pursue the next new account you are hunting? Who is minding the customer success store – inside your own house as well as your customers’ houses? If your upselling strategy remains a solo act confined to the sales division, why be surprised when your upselling strategy falls short?
- Your upselling strategy is tactical rather than strategic. How your organization positions upselling is important to how your customer perceive the value of your offerings. Many organizations provide lists of classes offered and lists of potential upgrades. That’s a retail tactic. When a decision maker looks at lists, they are thinking sushi restaurant menu, not long-term competitive advantage. Lists of items puts your buyers right back into retail mindset and the last wide screen TV they over-purchased. Their skepticism antennae are raised and the “don’t upgrade” alarms go off inside their heads.
Is it time to retool and recalibrate your upselling strategy so it is relevant and valuable to buyers and end-users?
Take a look at my thoughts via this white paper, Selling to Skeptical Decision Makers. Included is a valuable Buyer Skepticism Checklist you will find helpful in pivoting your upselling tactics into a relevant customer retention strategy.
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical employees. As a sales newbie, Babette walked into her first manufacturing plant – a slaughterhouse in Oklahoma – over 25 years ago. She fell in love with manufacturing. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, focusing teams on creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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