Commentary: Increasing your sales and profits by up-selling

Steven Scott Hale,, 1/22/11

A good salesperson is always interested in increasing his sales and profits. One of the easiest and most natural methods of creating additional sales is by up-selling during a sales transaction. The first time I saw a master salesman employ the art of up-selling, I really was flabbergasted. It was like he pulled a hundred dollar bill out of the air. My friend and I were selling paintings. My associate had been in the business for many years. I was new to it. He was engaged in a successful encounter with a customer. The man perused the many paintings which were displayed at our makeshift art gallery - the hood of his car. He liked and commented on numerous paintings, ultimately narrowing down his selection to three, and then choosing two. He asked my friend, "How much?" My friend thought about it, adding in his head, and said, "Those two are $65. The man said ok, and gave my friend a one hundred dollar bill. Larry rolled up the two canvases and handed it to him. Before he gave him his $35 change, he said, "But if you want, I'll give you all three for the hundred." The man thought about it for a moment, said aloud, "Yeah, might as well," and Larry gave him the additional painting. Very simply and effectively, he turned a $65 sale into a $100 sale. That's an increase of $35, and for no additional effort or time. Both buyer and seller were happy. How to up-sell:

1. Know your inventory. You must know if it is in your best interest to sell, and it almost always is.

2. Know your pricing. Be clear on how much you need to sell your inventory for.

3. Know how much wiggle room you have. This is where you can make your profit.

4. Offer the best prices. Always give the best deal possible; be fair and honest.

5. Always have an additional "best price", and offer it to the buyer.

6. Ask, ask, ask. If you don't make the offer, you won't make the sale.


Commentary: For a front-of-house staffer, conflicted feelings about up-selling

Ian Lambert, Arts Professional [UK] magazine, 8/29/11

In interview for my current position I was asked: "What do I see as the role of Front-of-House Assistant?" I expounded such wisdoms as "to augment the public's cultural experience; to assist in all features of accessibility; to create a safe and friendly atmosphere; provide a service; send them away eager to return." Cue interview question two, which related to methods of 'up-selling'. Apparently a principal part of the role is 'up-selling'. My personal conflict wavers between: "hey, let's not get too precious about this" and "but this is exploitation". You see, I feel I am being asked to up-sell to mother Mary and her little son Johnny the large popcorn (popcorn - in a theatre!), when they had barely the money to buy the tickets! In my first FOH incarnation I recall being struck by certain prices: "Is that how much we charge for a packet of crisps? And those peanuts are... how much?" When questioned about this, about the scenario of, say, our mother Mary and young Johnny coming to the theatre, buying a couple of packets of crisps and drinks and being charged... how much?... the Manager's argument was (and I quote) "if they can't afford it, they shouldn't come to the theatre." That comment has since left a dirty taste in my mouth. Any theatre worth its salt has an Outreach department, the purpose of which is connecting Theatre to the disenfranchised. I wonder what Outreach would make of the aforementioned Manager's comment. However, I suppose one has to accept that merchandising is how commercial theatre sustains itself. It needs to make money. Besides, Shakespeare's theatre would have been familiar with merchandising. So why should I feel aggrieved? If it's good enough for Shakespeare, right?


Commentary: Up-selling donors to give more with an online "lightbox"

Jonathan Benton, Marc Ruben and Steve Peretz, M+R Research Labs blog, 7/7/11

Monthly donors are gold, but they're hard to come by! Nonprofits have tried tactic after tactic to recruit new monthly donors online -- from monthly checkboxes on donation pages to rolling sustainer invite series to themed monthly giving options -- with varying degrees of success. But even the most successful monthly giving programs are always looking for new ways to turn one-time donors into sustainers.  Here's one you might not have tried: the "up-sell lightbox."

How does it work? You're ready to make a donation to your favorite non-profit. You fill out the donation form, plug in your credit card info, pick your gift size, and hit "Submit." Then, instead of processing the transaction, a box pops up in your web browser and asks if you'd like to make a monthly gift instead. The monthly gift amount is picked through an algorithm -- so if you've just made a $50 one-time gift, you'll be asked to make a $15 monthly gift; a $300 dollar donor is asked to give $75 each month, etc. Using a sliding scale ensures that your donors are bumped up, not down, if they make a monthly gift.

How effective is it? M+R tested an up-sell lightbox on two of our clients' main website donation pages over the course of 9 months. Between 2.5% and 9% percent of the one-time donors on the pages ended up making a monthly gift - meaning that if you're running a campaign where you get 1,000 one-time donations coming in, you could expect to sign up between 25 and 90 new monthly donors. It's a wide range, but even on the low end, that's pretty good! All groups have different average gifts - but if you take our $50 example, that would mean you're giving up about $1,250 ($50 x 25 donors) in order to make about [$4,500, or] $375 ($15 x 25 donors) every month. Your investment will break even in four months. But if you're not seeing that kind of volume on your donation pages, you might want to think twice -- because it might not be worth the time you spend setting it up.


Commentary: 'Up-Service' your customer

Shep Hyken, The Social Customer blog, 8/24/11

You may have heard of the phrase "up-sell" as it refers to selling a customer an upgrade, more of something, etc. The concept of up-servicing the customer came from thinking about the up-sell. What if we provided more customer service than the customer expected? There is a difference between "more" customer service and "better" customer service. I'll try to make this clearer in the following examples. A guest at a hotel asks the concierge where the closest movie theatre is located. The concierge appropriately responds. At that point, the guest got the answer he was looking for. The concierge had good information and was very pleasant. However, the concierge can up-service the guest by asking if he would like some suggestions for restaurants near the theater. By simply asking extra questions (more service) the concierge gave the guest better service. This example is even more obvious: American Express is a role model I write about in my book, The Amazement Revolution. When you call their call center, it is not their goal to solve the problem and get off the phone. Instead, they want to solve your problem and enhance the relationship. They up-service the customer by asking more questions and trying to find ways to add value to the relationship. Don't confuse asking a simple question like, "Is there anything else I can help you with," as up-service. That question is expected. It is a courtesy. The up-service technique is used to provide more service, which enhances the overall customer experience.

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