When people talk about upselling and cross-selling, many think about fast-food restaurants where they are asked if you want a large drink and fries on the side? In short, this is the classic up-sell and cross-sell model.
This is something we are used to and have come to expect in cafes and restaurants alike. It obviously works when we want to serve people quickly, yet look for opportunities. And as the saying goes “if you ask enough people, some will say yes”.
Whilst it works for fast-moving consumer goods, it can be ineffective for more sophisticated sales. Customers are more educated and expectations are higher. They want to feel valued, so a more consultative approach is needed.
When I think of the two styles of selling, I am reminded of two contrasting examples I witnessed in a shoe shop a couple of years ago. One was bland and, in my opinion quite ineffective. Whereas the other interaction was engaging and very persuasive.
A lady came into the store, picked up a pair of shoes and asked the nearby assistant if she could try them on in a particular size. A short while later the employee returned, handed over the shoes and headed off again. After a minute, she came back and asked the customer if they were comfortable. It was a good question to ask, but it was said in a very impersonal, robotic way. Lucky for the assistant, the customer replied “yes”, so was asked another closed question, enquiring “if she wanted to buy the shoes”. Once again, the sales person struck lucky as the customer said “yes”. The assistant carried the shoes over to the desk and went through the usual steps of the transaction. Just before paying, the assistant asked the customer if she’d like to buy some shoe polish – the cross-sell opportunity. The customer asked how much was it? A fiver. Having watched the encounter, I wasn’t surprised when the customer replied no.
A few minutes later another customer arrived enquiring about a different set of shoes. This time, a different sales assistant attended and I was pleasantly surprise by her reaction.
The young woman waited while the customer tried on the shoes, whilst complimenting her on her choice. She enquired about the shoes using the open-ended question “how comfortable are they?” This led to a more detailed answer, allowing the assistant to easily qualify how much the customer liked them. By now, the customer was feeling relaxed and the two continued to chat away. Suddenly the customer was saying she wanted them for a friend’s wedding. The assistant asked another great question – “when was it?” helping her to work out if the customer would buy now or later. All of this was done with genuine interest and the customer informed the young lady it was in 6 weeks’ time. The salesclerk cleverly led the customer to imagine wearing the shoes at the wedding to closing the sale.
The young girl advised the lady on the importance of comfort when wearing the shoes for such a long day. She connected by relating it to her own experience standing in the shop all day long. She talked about how sore her own feet would get if she didn’t wear “jelly feet”, whilst reaching down to take a pad out of her own shoe to show the customer. At this point, the shopper enquired if they stocked them and to her delight requested two packs, without ever questioning the price.
To me this was one of the best cross-sell examples I had witnessed in quite some time. The shop assistant was absolutely superb at cross-selling and in closing the sale. She related to the customer, she worked out what was important and she got her timings right. And although the customer may have bought more than she had planned, she was probably very glad of the advice. It was evident to see she appreciated the sales assistant took an interest and sold her something that would in fact be very useful on the day.