How to upsell without turning off your customer If you and your employees aren't trained on effective ways to upsell, chances are you either offend cus tomers by being too pushy or leave money on the table that customers would have willingly spent with you.

Either option is costly.

In training sales employees on how to increase revenues from current customers, I often find that not enough attention is paid to upselling.

Upselling refers to when you help a customer decide to buy a little extra or "up-grade" slightly the final purchase. A car dealer, for example, might inform customers at the time of ordering about upholstery protection and undercoating.

Or about accessories to dress up the vehicle. These are relatively small purchases that the buyer doesn't have to put a lot of thought into. The bonus is they can be extremely profitable for the sales person and for the dealership.

Why upselling is so profitable? Consider this example. A customer buys a car with monthly payments of $395. With that size of investment, there's very little resistance to adding $2 to the monthly payments for upholstery protection. For you, however, that additional sale is significant, as over 48 months it adds up to a $96 sale, with a big profit margin.

Some would say that a $96 sale on a $25,000 vehicle is only a minimal increase in the overall sale. Why waste the time? My argument is that if it only takes 30 seconds to make that extra $96 sale, then the sales person is making more money for the dealership than with any other activity.

If a sales person's salary is $20 per hour, then doing the math, the 30 seconds it takes to upsell costs the company about 17 cents. If it only costs the dealership 17 cents to make $96, that's a huge return on investment. The fact that it's attached to a $25,000 sale is completely irrelevant. So, upselling is one of the highest and best uses of an employee's time.

Upselling should be easy The best part of upselling is that it's practically effortless. Since it's done after the customer has decided to go ahead with a major purchase, the hard part of the sales conversation has already been done. You've already established rapport, identified needs, summarized, presented benefits, asked for the order and handled objections. Upselling is just presenting the information in a "by-the-way" assumptive manner.

Effective upselling strategies Assumptive is the key. You've got to assume that the customer will naturally want this. Begin the upsell with a brief benefit, then if possible, add something unique about what you're selling. To avoid sounding pushy, particularly if the upsell requires some elaboration, ask for the customer's permission to describe it.

Here's an example of the wrong way to upsell. Imagine dining at a restaurant where you've just finished a big meal. The server asks, "Would you care for dessert? If you say yes, you might give the impression of overindulging. So, many customers refuse out of politeness. Result: no sale.

The savvy server doesn't ask if the customer wants dessert. The professional just assumes that when people go out for a meal they are treating themselves. So of course they'll want to treat themselves to dessert. In this case, the server pulls up the dessert tray and says, "To finish off your meal with a little something sweet, (that's the benefit) I brought the dessert tray over for you. Would you like to hear about the most popular ones?" (asks permission to proceed).

When the customer agrees to hear about the desserts the server doesn't just list them by name; he describes their benefits. So rather than saying, "This is chocolate mousse," he says, "If you like chocolate you'll love this. We've got a chocolate mousse that melts in your mouth and makes you wonder what the ordinary people are doing today."

Focus on customer needs - not yours. Don't try to sell the customer something you wouldn't buy if you were in their shoes. It is totally irrelevant whether or not this purchase suits your needs; what is relevant is whether it suits the customer's. That perspective empowers you to upsell effectively and with integrity.

Give a hands-on demonstration. One of the most effective upselling techniques is getting the customer to use the product or see how it works or looks in your location.

Group related products. It's a good idea to group similar add-ons and offer them as an upsell at a package price.

Bottom line: Every business owner should realistically look at whether employees could improve the way they upsell. For most businesses, a little professional training can make a difference.

* No attempt is made to upsell.

* The salesperson comes across as too pushy.

* The upselling is made unconvincingly so the customer generally refuses.