with Kelly Ann Peck and Cam Petty
We’ve all heard the negative connotation of sales before. When it comes to up-selling or selling in general, there can be hesitation. People too easily jump to the mental image of a sleazy and pushy salesman standing at your door trying to sell you new windows or a set of encyclopedias, right?
What people don’t think of usually when it comes to sales is that we are in this industry to help people, not just sell. We like to take the approach to upselling as serving our customers. They have a need, desire, or dream and reach out to people and companies like us to make that dream a reality. How much more could we be helping our clients if we were only focused on listening to them and their wants throughout the sales process.
Each time an inquiry comes into your business for a product, floral, inventory rentals, photography, etc. all you need to do is approach the sale as a conversation between you, the employee, and the prospective client. Sometimes it feels easier to avoid this approach to the conversation in general. However, it’s needed for growth in a business.
What we typically do in the sales process is ask a million questions to vet our clients to see if it would be a good sale. Do you ever stop to ask if this client would be a good fit for your business? This is a side of the industry that many people forget. This relationship can and should be mutually beneficial.
Instead of only asking what style they’re looking for and what pieces of yours they like, ask what the event is for or how they want their attendees to feel walking in and seeing the set-up. Get your client talking about the bigger picture. If a bride is really excited about her cake for her wedding and wants a backdrop for that moment, is she also thinking about a cake stand? That would help dress up her moment and it might not even be on her mind! When you ask the right questions, you will know what to sell them in addition to their picks or suggestions.
Serving Abundantly through Leading & Listening with Empathy and Skill – we as salespeople should be doing all the things when conversating with our clients. When you strive to be a servant leader while selling, you are the furthest thing from the icky salesperson.
It is much easier to upsell a returning client that to go out and find a new client. Don’t believe u? Here’s an analogy to help wrap your head around it: when you are riding a bike, the first push is the hardest. You usually have to put your weight on top of one peddle to push off and get the chains to move and start moving forward. But once you get the bike going it’s easier to keep moving because of the repetition and the cycle, it’s a circular movement, and all you have to do is keep peddling. Sales have the same process.
We all have repeat clients and referral clients. Consider going back each quarter or every 6 months and tracking their process or their progress. Think about how your returning clients started out the first time they booked an event with you versus the 2nd or 3rd time they did. In the beginning, you weren’t sure how things would go. But if a returning client comes back to hire you again, you should have an idea of how the process will work.
Often you can project services they will request, the types of inventory they need, their style, etc. Pay attention to that. Think about your returning customers when you are purchasing new inventory. Instead of thinking of trends or basic wants, think about what your loyal clientele would like.
Additionally, think about how returning clients can help you expand your inventory with more obscure pieces. Say there’s a funky lounge sofa you’ve been thinking about purchasing but are unsure how many ways you know it can rent. Does its style match one of your loyal customers? If so, what if you purchased it for one of their events that you know it would be a perfect fit for? Doing so could allow you to bring your clients fun and unique pieces all while expanding your inventory selection.
Set your team up for success in this process. Your sales team needs to be educated. They need to be educated on clientele, products, and trends. Not just once but as part of a continuous learning process. Trends come and go all the time. Therefore, even seasoned employees need refinement. Train your employees on how to have meaningful conversations with clients, how you want them to sell to your clients, and what you want them to sell to your clients.
People book regularly 6 months in advance for big events. Things change though, often. This is another reason and opportunity, why you should continue listening to your clients, need for their event even after the contract is agreed on. We’re not being pushy though, or writing the check. We can trust them to make the best decision for themselves.
Think about items or issues that may arise in the final weeks or days of planning for your client while they are planning their event and ask how you might be able to assist them with those potential roadblocks (ex: they have a cake… did they think about a cake stand) then build that into your sales process. You can try once at the beginning to inform them of the additional products or services you have that they may benefit from. Then ask about final details in those later weeks again while letting them know it’s not too late to adjust things if they need to.
Ask your team what they like to sell, and what they like to group together. Everyone has a different personality and likely sells in a different type of way. They have their go-to inventory that sells and clients love. Talking to your sales team and learning their styles and supporting those styles helps your team feel seen and validated, in reaching their goals, and chasing even higher ones.
Doing all this also helps build the culture in your team. Sales can be a scary word that turns many potential candidates away. Taking care of your team by fighting for and protecting that culture is worth it. You should be empowering your team to try things out, and following up on them.
In addition to building your sales team culture, you want to ensure you are creating safe spaces for your marketing and sales teams to work together. You can do this by taking a pulse on what’s reflected and what’s not in what you market and what is selling. Your followers might not be your exact client pool, but it’s helpful to pay attention to what they enjoy and how it correlates to your contracts.
As an example, if you are really pushing custom vinyl on some backdrops but notice you have other backdrops without vinyl being rented much more frequently, you should consider pushing more of that inventory as opposed to the custom vinyl. You could consider making it an add-on or upsell to backdrops clients’ requests instead of the focal point of the item. Pivot your marketing, pivot your upselling and go from there.
“What is your budget?” is the number one question that we usually do not ask. Sometimes we get so excited about what we can do with the design and start building that we forget to find this out. Instead of asking what your client’s budget is, you can get crafty, such as, “on a scale of 1-10, what are you willing to invest in your rentals?” or “What have you invested in this service in the past?”
Upsell your clients by selling your benefits. Talk about how you change your clients’ lives, seriously.
Ask your clients why they like working with you and take note of their responses. When you figure out what clients love about you, you can develop cool services or ways to serve them better regularly in the process. Like if in the spur of the moment at a client’s event, you make something work to solve an issue and it does, and they loved you for your problem-solving. How can you transition that ability into something you can sell to future clients?
Also, consider asking your clients why they chose to book with you. Ask them if there was anything they were looking for that you didn’t have. Or even if there were any pain points in their booking process with your team/company so you can be aware of how your team is serving clients and how they can be doing better? We are consistently trying to build a bridge of trust with our clients and having these conversations supports that growth. You can ask some of these questions in follow-up post-event surveys but don’t be afraid to start the conversation sooner if the context allows.
Speaking of surveys, follow-ups, surveys, and reviews are so incredibly important. Do not forget to ask for your reviews! Send the email, and call the client. If you are avid about collecting content, then be avid about collecting reviews and feedback. You need them for your business in order to be able to sell more to more people and get things done.
Upselling is all a mindset. Working in sales means you spend a lot of time having super meaningful conversations with potential and (hopefully) returning clients. That’s it.
We are here to support you in this process! As previously stated, this is a process that needs continuous learning on how to do it well. If you ever have any questions, please reach out! Our team is eager to answer any questions you may have about sales or upselling your clients. Email us at email@example.com and we will get back to you!
Tiereny J. White | Content Manager
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