The Subtle Art of Upselling

I just had an experience (and actually not related to my work, or even to IT) where I clearly communicated that I wanted to buy certain service. The service in question could be considered as premium service in it’s class. But during the sales process, or discussion, I was more or less directed towards getting just the standard service instead. So after some turns of events – I noticed I had settled for the bulk.

After this had happened and I was back at the office sitting on my work desk, I was reflecting on what just had occurred. Why I did not receive the service I had wanted to buy? And why I did not actually insist on getting the premium?

And how does this similar, or totally opposite, behaviour apply for the IT services, which I am part of producing to clients. And which I would like to think, are more of premium services of nature, rather than the bulk.

Hearing your customer. And also listening.

In this occasion, the person responsible for the sales was actually not very seasoned nor experienced professional. The person had been clearly taught how to do the simple, bulk service and there were senior professionals, whose job was to take care of the more premium and complex tasks.

There was also the fact, that there was a corporate agreement between the provider and my employer, which defined the bulk service, so for the young clerk it was maybe quite easy to fall back to the offering, which was familiar.

Even if I said, that the money is not really an issue here.

Premium price for premium product is more than fair, right?

In this case they were maybe hearing, what I was saying. But they really did not listened to – or understood, what I was saying.

Be sharp and at your game

You really need be up your game to listen to, what your customer is saying. Sometimes the cues are subtle and sometimes they are not. But missing an important cue in communication with your client can mean significant losses. Both direct and indirect: the billable hours, future opportunities and customer satisfaction.

So understand, what the customer wants, and when they want it. And show to them that you understand it. You will gain in all fronts and make your partnership and trust with the customer stronger.

It is important also to understand, that there might be a lot of business still hidden with your current customers. And that it can actually be easier and more profitable to sell more to already existing customers, rather than to try to find new clients and start from scratch with them.

And also identify those situations, where you might not be the correct person to continue with the sales case at hand, but you could redirect the case for example to your senior colleague. Or someone with some specific expertise related to the case. Nobody usually expects that you need to personally know and be able to do everything and anything.

Except maybe you yourself.

Turning the tables

The scenario, where the customer wants to have the premium before you even sell it, is very good situation business-wise. So learn to identify those cases and then you can concentrate on enforcing the idea and the thought, that the premium service will provide them at least their investments worth in returns.

In the end, the customer will be happier, even if they spent more than they originally planned for. You will help your customer win while winning yourself simultaneously.

How to upsell with style

There is a fine line between just pushing your product to the customer and upselling.

Learn to identify promptly, when your sales pitch is not working or you have misinterpreted the situation. Reassess and adapt in style. Nobody likes someone, who does not take no for an answer.

Lessons learned or not?

In this original case, in the end I got quite adequate service. And with personal input to the clerk, I could guide the situation, that the end result was actually OK-ish. But I would not want my clients to have similar experience and similar thoughts afterwards. The perceived feeling of the transaction is not fine after this kind of occurrence after all.

The hard part here is, that what kind of feedback should I give to the company for this, if any. After all, I was the one, who settled for the bulk service, more or less willingly.

And if I am not personally willing to give feedback, how can I expect to get feedback from my customers, if I fail to fill their expectations.