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Best Practices for Ecommerce Upselling

Posted on January 27, 2011 by Joelle

To follow up on my last blog, upselling techniques for ecommerce, I have created this blog to include best practices for upselling. Upselling should be as natural a thought as helping a customer, giving ground to what is often defined but not trained or implemented.

I have included some best practices on how to train your customer service representatives and upgrade your website to incorporate essential upselling tactics.

Practice - Consider sharing what your company does with a friend, and you will find a more natural rhythm for sharing benefits. Listen to the responses that your friend has, concerns, body language etc. Body language is a great indicator to determine if you have pushed the sale to much or not. Asking them what they do or do not like about websites can also give you insight on how to improve your upselling tactics on your own site. Then lastly, assess and make improvements where they need to be made. The best way to learn to sell better is to dialog, listen and act.

Assess the Customer
- No one wants to be pushed into buying something they do not want, but everyone loves finding a sales representative that will help them find exactly what they need! Assessing a customer’s needs and potential wants is a large part of selling well. Always keep in mind that you want your customer to walk away with the best possible product, to fit as many needs as you can fill, and with the best experience you can give. Some customers will flat out tell you what they want; others you will have observe and conclude what they may want.

Pocket Upselling - This is reserve knowledge your sales associates have about the products and promotions you offer that will aid you in pulling out the best upsell option for the customer’s needs. This is not a canned response, but a unique offer based on the products or services the customer has already committed to purchasing. For E-tailers this is often utilized as “you might also like” and “other customer’s purchased” using algorithms to determine the unique product that a potential customer might be interested in. This is also why it is important for your marketing and customer service team to interact, as the deals the marketing team is pushing can be relayed to the customer service team.

Connect the Advantage - Offering “do you want fries with that” will not aid in an online upsell. Internet retailers have to communicate value and advantage. Briefly communicating the benefits to the customer through a question and partial answer are the best way to upsell. “Would you like to hear about the X product that matches your Y product? You can add this to your order for only Z more dollars.” This provides just enough information to the customer to know that there is an offer behind the question, and they may find value in it.

Demonstrate Usage - For internet retailers this is a more difficult experience to replicate, but can be done. By demonstrating and giving the customer an experience with the product will increase the value of a product in the mind of the purchaser. This can be accomplished through informative videos and experiential software development. The more product information you have available to the customer will increase certainty, which is the result of usage tactics.

Are You Bundled? -
Grouping related products or services together for a lesser price than they are individually, creates a bundle. This also creates urgency, because the purchaser knows if they decided to want the associated items later they will pay more than they would at that moment. You can program this function into your website by having products that are related be bundled together for a discounted price.

Know the Difference – Your calculator needs to become your best friend. Quickly calculating the difference for an upsell and the cost associated will communicate the cost-advantage to the customer. The customer needs to quickly know what they will get, and what it will cost. They need to know what the difference is in order to measure if it has value for them. Communicating a dollar amount gives tangible worth to a trade-off. For example: “you save $5 on items X,Y & Z when you purchase them as a package”  or “for only $6 more you can add this X item that is required for installation.” 

“Is This All I Need?”- An experienced upselling sales person will never hear this phrase; they will have already offered any significant needed or complementary product to the customer and the customer will know what they are getting. If you know that a particular product is hard to match or find later, offer any complementary products like this: “I personally know that this product X is unique and difficult to match, would you like to hear about product Y, which would be an excellent accompaniment to your current choice?” This affirms the current choice the customer has already made but also gives them insight to a potential but easily avoided road block in future purchasing decisions. You may also try, “ We have excellent product X’s which will be very useful in maintaining the longevity of your product Y, these start at X dollars.” You informed them of a potential need they may have and that you have a solution to offer if they are interested.

Do NOT Badger -
Upselling is something that must be done naturally, softly, and tactfully. If a customer is giving signs that they already know what they want, and are not interested in anything else, follow their lead but follow up with an offer for future assistance. Consider planning to use one of these upselling techniques into your next website redesign, or sales call to grow sales and customer loyalty.

These are some of the tips I use when upselling, have you found any other tips that work well? Leave them in the comments!


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