My first job out of college was in catalog marketing.
But once in awhile when the company was in a business period it was all hands on deck in the call center. That’s where I had to learn to take orders from customers calling in.
It wasn’t mandatory for those of us that weren’t trained service representatives. And we didn’t get any kind of bonus or anything, but I was kind of intrigued by the upselling process.
Upselling is when you have a customer that’s buying something or maybe they’re even just browsing in a store and you try to see if they need something else.
That’s the theme of this post. A way for your team to increase sales with a few simple questions in the right moment.
1. Do you need…
There’s a reason this one has reached cliche level in retail or in any business or professional setting. You hear it all the time:
Do you need help with anything…
Do you need a glass of water…
There are all kinds of variations. You can go specific or you can leave it open-ended. It’s just a way to get your foot in the door.
Like most of these, it doesn’t always lead to a sale, but it will lead to a consistent number of sales and that’s why it’s good for team members to get in the habit of asking this in person, on the phone and even in email.
Thanks for your email, do you need anything else?
Actually, do you sell this service…
2. Do you want…
This is just a little different take on the last one. People may not necessarily need something, but they may want something. Let’s say you’re at a restaurant and a customer orders dinner and a drink. They’re finishing. The person waiting on them could ask if they need dessert. That might cause the customer to think that they really don’t need it.
But ask if they want it… That’s another story. That’s something that a customer could get behind in some cases. The slight difference in the question, depending on your business and the situation, can make a big difference.
3. Do you have…
Customers may be looking for something specific. They may have already purchased it. This is a classic upsell question that asks about something they may need or want, but that they don’t know about. You’ll hear it all the time in the checkout:
Do you have our branded credit card?
A simple question. It’s a little annoying, but it’s easy to say “no” or “no thank you” or whatever. Most aren’t too pushy about it, but this question does result in some upselling. And that makes it worthwhile to ask.
If you don’t have a credit card there is still usually something you can ask. Even if you’re testing out a new product or service. When your customers buy something, ask if they have another item you’re selling.
4. Did you know about…
A slightly altered version of the last one. It’s a little less pushy. You’re not necessarily insinuated that they need to buy something because they don’t have it. Maybe you’re just asking for their opinion on something new that you’re looking to try out in the store or in your business.
5. How is your day going…
Could be at the beginning. Could be at the end. Could be in the middle. Part of the equation with sales, a big part, is starting a conversation. It’s like dating. You don’t necessarily need to have a great opening line like they have in the movies. You just need to break the ice with something simple. This is one of the best lines in the world.
Start with this and then really focus on being interested in what the person responds with. Ask followup questions. Find something interesting that you’re really curious about so that you can have an actual conversation.
You never know where this can lead in a sales setting. It can lead to information about something they need that you can help with.
6. You seem a bit perplexed…
Some sales people are really good at keying in when someone seems to be struggling with something. It can obviously lead to a few struggling situations where you assume someone is perplexed and they’re really not. If that’s the case you can always apologize and back away and leave them be. But this question often leads to a helpful discussion for the customer and more sales for you.
7. Why didn’t you buy anything…
If someone is leaving and they didn’t buy anything. Have your team ask this question. Make it seem that you’re looking to improve your business.
Some ecommerce companies are really good at this. They don’t stop visitors from leaving, but if someone looks at several product pages and then goes to the homepage again, for example, they ask this question or something similar to learn what the person wants that they’re not finding.
It can lead to insight that can help with future products and services or it can lead to insight that people are struggling to find something that you think is obvious.
Simple questions can lead to more sales. It’s not natural for many people to ask these questions, but the best salespeople know how to use them. And the great thing is you don’t even have to be in sales to use these questions to earn more money for the company. And if you’re a good boss, you can incentivize people to ask with bonuses.