Building the Basket: The Little-Known Key to Upselling

by Greg DePersio

2 min read

Thoughtful retail upselling is a win-win for your business and customers. Your company can squeeze more revenue out of each client, and your customers have more of their needs met.

You can upsell no matter if your business is an e-commerce store or a brick-and-mortar retailer. Whether you’re selling to customers in-person or online, there are a few things to consider for successful upselling.

Rather than throwing random items at your customers that may only be somewhat related to what they came for, take the time to listen to your customers and uncover additional needs. Moreover, think logically about their purchases — often, purchase decisions can offer insight into a problem you can solve.

Suggest Products Your Customers Need

When a customer buys something, sometimes the purchase itself indicates a potential need for additional products you offer. An obvious example is shoes and socks. Some retailers make the mistake of suggesting additional shoes for a customer buying running shoes, or they’ll recommend a product only tangentially related, such as a t-shirt or windbreaker from the same brand. However, one thing you know for certain a shoe buyer needs is socks. Consequently, you can make an easy upsell to help fill the customer’s basket with additional items.

For example, if your business sells electronics and a customer comes in for a video game console, you know right away that a console doesn’t do much good without games. Therefore, you shouldn’t let them walk out of the store without ascertaining what games they or the recipient enjoys playing.

Solve Their Problems

The best upsellers uncover customer problems and offer solutions. For example, imagine that a customer enters your electronics store and asks which smartphone takes the highest-quality pictures. Right away, you should be asking questions about their needs. Is the customer a professional or aspiring photographer? What kinds of pictures will they be taking?

The customer’s answers, more often than not, will elucidate an additional need you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. If the customer is an aspiring photographer, your store likely has other photography equipment they need. If they just want a top-quality camera to take selfies with their friends at concerts and parties, you could upsell them a selfie stick.

Provide Incentives

Another upselling technique is to provide an incentive to purchase ancillary products. For example, maybe the customer buying running shoes thinks they already have enough athletic socks at home. However, if they can purchase three pair for the price of two, or receive 30% off for buying multiple pairs, your customer might be more motivated to stock up on extra socks for the future.

The best salespeople can even turn customer questions and objections into upsell opportunities. For example, a customer likes a particular laptop but is worried the speakers don’t produce enough sound. A confident salesperson who knows how to upsell might respond, “No worries. We have a set of speakers that work perfectly with that laptop. If you buy them together, I can give you 25% off the speakers.”

References & Resources

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