Have you ever bought something, got all excited about unpacking and using it for the first time, only to discover you needed batteries, a microphone or some other component to make it work? Or you’ve ordered a delicious sounding dish from the menu and waited in anticipation for it to arrive, only to find out that you needed to order side dishes separately. And nobody told you!

How did that make you feel? Not great, right? In this article, I will give you 5 very simple hands-on tips to add value to your customer without being too pushy.

1) Show off your products

We all know that one way to grow sales is to increase the spend per head every time our customers visit. They’ve already bought from us once or more so they know us, hopefully like what we have offered them and by now they’ll be able to trust us. We have established a relationship.

But often we feel reluctant to upsell. We don’t want to be pushy or be seen to be manipulating customers into buying something they don’t want.

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However, seeing it from a customer’s perspective, rather than feeling uncomfortable that someone was trying to sell you something you didn’t want or need you’d probably be frustrated or even annoyed if they hadn’t suggested the additional items such as the batteries, microphone or side dishes.

By letting customers know about other products or services that might complement what they’re already having or doing, you can actually improve the experience (as well as boosting your bottom line).

2) What to promote

Although the term ‘upselling’ normally means marketing more profitable services or products, it can also be simply offering the customer other options he or she may not have considered previously. Upselling implies selling something that is more profitable or otherwise preferable for the seller instead of the original sale.

But is it just about increasing the customer spend or is it also about giving the customer a better all-round experience, giving them something they might have forgotten to order or never even thought of?

Consider which products or services it would be beneficial to promote. Although it obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria. Unless what you are suggesting is perceived as adding value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and it will do very little to build loyalty and trust.

Therefore, you should consider how you distinguish between high selling price, profitability and appropriateness. For example, there is no need to upsell an expensive bottle of wine if it does not appeal to the customers’ taste, or to upsell an annual admission ticket to someone who doesn’t live locally and is unlikely to make use of it. In these cases, you would end up with an unhappy and disgruntled customer, making it a very short term gain on your part and hardly a naturally loyal customer.

Read more: 4 quick tips to bring back customers

3) Spot the opportunities

Look at all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to add value – not just in everyone’s own department but across all areas.

Know your audience and review the buying patterns of your most profitable customers; what types of things do they frequently buy or order?

Put yourself in their shoes; what might be a logical accompaniment for the main thing they are buying in the same way that a crash helmet and a bell are logical purchases if you’re buying your child their first bicycle.
I’m sure you’ll have plenty of ideas for your own business but here are just a few easy options to get the ideas flowing:

– For hotels: Options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms, recommending quiet times for spa or fitness center.

– At salons: If clients are looking to be pampered in preparation for a special occasion, would they then perhaps like to get their nails done whilst having their hair done? Or maybe take home a special cream to complete their beauty regime?

– In the restaurant: Suggest sharing a platter of nibbles with aperitifs, side orders, deserts, desert wine, specialist coffees or after dinner drinks.

– Attractions and museums: Offer to upgrade to annual tickets, access to exclusive areas and invitations to special events, and cross promote concessions’ facilities such as the café.

– At the bar or café: Offer branded beers, snack items or home-made pastries with their coffee.

Think ahead and try to anticipate things your customers might appreciate.

4) Engage with your customers

It’s all too easy to assume that customers will ask for the items or services themselves – how would they know what you have to offer? Make sure to give plenty of information on other relevant services, have products on show and be prepared to tell your customers about the benefits of these items or services.

Also, think about timing. If you’re offering something that needs time to enjoy, there’s no point in telling them about it just as they are about to leave.

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For example in a restaurant, selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still full. Ask too late and they have gone off the idea and want to head off home. It’s a fine line but it’s worth practicing judging your customers’ patterns.

And remember: It’s always easier to sell something of lower value at the end of the sale. Take for example when you buy a new suit and you then get offered a shirt to go with it. The price of the shirt by comparison is small, so it’s an easy sale. Done the other way may not give the same result.

5) Build confidence with your team

Demonstrate to your team the importance of offering additional items to add value for your customers.

Allow them to experience all the products and services first hand. They’ll then be far more knowledgeable to talk to your customers.
This will not only make your employees more memorable, there will also be more willingness to promote the extras if they are confident to talk about them, and it will certainly be easier to evoke emotional appeal through vivid descriptions of feel, taste or smell if they’ve experienced them themselves.

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It’s all very well knowing what to say, but sometimes the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope! Allow your employees to practice in a safe environment, based on different scenarios, for instance how to ask open questions to identify customers’ needs and how to respond and make suggestions.

And most importantly give them authority to look for opportunities and make suggestions and personal recommendations.

So stop thinking “upsell” and think in terms of “adding value”. This way, you will create much stronger relationships with your customers.

Caroline Cooper is a speaker, author, trainer and consultant on customer service and customer loyalty. She’s founder of Naturally Loyal who specializes in helping businesses develop their teams to deliver consistently great customer service to retain more of their quality customers, and is author of “The Hotel Success Handbook”

Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.