Beefing Up Your Sales

Beffing up your sales through upselling.


I remember visiting a local grocery store as a kid with my grandmother. The shelves were dusty, the fruit bruised and the canned goods overpriced. The only real draw was the butcher shop. This butcher had some of the best cuts of meat in town — and he was one of the best upsellers I've ever seen.

My grandmother would run in for "a few things" and need my help carrying everything she bought. I think there is something to be learned from a good upselling technique.

I understand that as a mobile tool distributor your job selling tools is nothing like selling cuts of meat. Your product is much more sophisticated. Your prices are obviously higher. And your customers are probably a lot more jaded. But the basic concept of upselling is the same whether you sell smoked ham or smoke machines.

Upsell, don't oversell

Upselling is basically helping a customer buy the highest quality or quantity of product to meet his wants and needs. Don't get me wrong. Upselling is not about pushing a customer into buying a lot of extra stuff he doesn't want or can't afford. There's a fine line between upselling and overselling. Upselling will create more satisfied customers. Overselling will create resentment.

For instance, when you go to a butcher for half a pound of ground round, you don't want to leave with a side of beef. And if some cunning butcher sold you a side of beef, you might get pretty frustrated when you got home and couldn't fit it in the freezer of your side-by-side refrigerator.

You'd probably get a little mad at that butcher. You'd likely feel taken advantage of and not return to that butcher. You might even tell your friends how you feel this particular butcher pushed you into buying more than you really wanted or needed.

That's overselling.

When I say upselling, I mean upgrading a customer from a pound of ground beef at $2.99 per pound to a pound of ground sirloin at $4.59 per pound. Sirloin is a better cut of meat. It's less fatty and better for your customer. I call that a "quality upgrade".

Or, let's say your customer is having a big cookout. He may not want a more expensive cut of meat. But he may be seriously under-calculating how much meat he'll need to feed all of his guests. He may need three pounds — or six pounds. Helping him determine how much to buy to meet his need is a "quantity upgrade."

You'll notice in both examples it's about helping the customer. It's not about putting more money in your pocket. That may be the result, but it's not the purpose.

Know more, sell more

The key to being a good upseller is asking good questions to determine the level of your customers needs. The better you know the customer's situation, the better you'll be at uncovering upselling opportunities.

Most customers will appreciate your attempt to provide him with a complete solution for his needs. Some would be disappointed with a lesser product and are more than willing to pay extra for more features, higher quality, or accessories.

A while back I was the victim of underselling: The exhaust pipe on my van broke. So, I stopped at an auto parts store for a patch to buy time until I could get to a muffler shop. I told the sales clerk I wanted a cheap patch. He handed me a package and rang up my order. When I crawled under my van at home, I realized the kit didn't include a hangar. As I struggled to tie up my exhaust pipe with stovepipe wire, I began to resent the clerk for not asking me more questions and selling me more stuff. Yes, I really wanted to be upsold.

Ask and ye shall upsell

Asking a lot of helpful questions is not very likely to offend your customer. It shows your thoroughness in helping your customer determine his needs and anticipating future uses for the tool or equipment you're selling him.

Questioning your customer about how he plans to use the tool can help you determine the quality of product and accessories that will best serve his needs.

This content continues onto the next page...

We Recommend