To Upsell Jobs, Sell to the Heart

My friend recently went shopping for a new cell phone. "I just want a basic phone," was his comment before hitting the stores. Yet, when he returned, he was carrying a gadget that incorporated a phone, camera, integrated PDA, custom graphics, games, Streaming Multimedia, Predictive Text Entry and assorted other high- tech functions, the likes of which I thought only existed in the Bat Cave.

"Wow, that must've been some pushy salesperson," I said.

My friend was startled by that. "No, actually he wasn't pushy at all. I WANTED all this stuff."

"You wanted Bluetooth? How could you want it? Before today, you'd never even HEARD of it!"

"Yes," he replied, "But once I knew how valuable it could be, I realized I needed it. All the salesperson did was offer me things that would make my life easier."

It was, I realized, a textbook example of smart "upselling."

In the kitchen and bath industry, we know that upselling projects is a great way to boost the bottom line. Adding a skylight, specifying a floor-warming system or upgrading everything from hardware to cabinet finishes to interior fittings can raise the price of a job, and make your business more profitable.

Yet many kitchen and bath dealers still fail to take their projects to the next level this way.

We've all heard (or used) the objections:
"My clients can't afford it."
"If I push too hard, I'll lose the sale."
"I'm a designer, not a salesperson. And my clients don't want to be hard sold."
"If they wanted it, they'd ask for it. Besides, we pride ourselves on being a low-pressure showroom."

It's ironic that we live in a society where everyone likes things, but no one seems to like having people sell those things to them.

And so, in the kitchen and bath industry, as with most industries, we struggle with how to "sell" to people without the stigma of being "pushy salespeople" especially when we're talking about selling add-ons or amenities beyond the clients' initially stated budget.

Yet upselling a project, when done properly, automatically overcomes the bulk of customers' objections, since the goal isn't actually to make more money, it's to offer products and design features that make the customer's life more convenient. Do that, and the money will follow.

But what about price objections? You can't get blood from a stone, right? Well, not always.
I was recently looking at new cars, with a firm budget in place. The salesperson, while pleasant, kept offering me options that were out of my established price range. I declined each one firmly. "No, I can't afford that. No, I just want the basic package. Yes, the state-of-the-art, 78-changer CD player is, indeed, nifty, but my budget only covers the standard features."

"I don't want any extras," I repeated, over and over again. And I meant it, too.

Finally, he gave up...or so I thought. As I waited for some paperwork, he casually began chatting about the neighborhood, mentioning the many circular streets that make it easy to get lost. He laughingly said, "I'm convinced that a sense of direction is genetic, and I didn't get those genes. Did you?"

I sympathized; I can't find my way out of a paper bag without directions, and have been known to get lost walking the dog. That's when he mentioned a new add-on auto feature that would provide computerized directions at a glance, with built-in phone help that could get me anywhere at any time, even if the main roads were detoured and I was driving at 4 a.m.

"With this, you'd never get lost again."

Never get lost again? Just the thought made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Just think, no more stopping at gas stations in the middle of the night because the Connecticut Route 9 looks sort of like the Westchester Route 9, and is it my fault if Connecticut is further north than I realized? No more taking that right that should cut through to the main road but doesn't, which then requires 20 minutes of aimless driving, leaning out the window trying to read street signs while attempting not to run over little old ladies and dogs in the process.

Never. Get lost. Again. I could barely fathom it.

In no time at all, I'd signed on the dotted line, even though I "couldn't" afford it.

Why? Because, as smart salespeople know, when people buy with their hearts, price goes right out the window.

And that's the real trick to upselling figuring out what makes your clients want. Is it luxury, convenience, the thrill of having something specifically customized to their needs?

Are they passionate about organization in the kitchen, or being pampered in the bathroom?

You don't have to hard sell them to upsell your projects. All you have to do is talk to them about their day-to-day lives, how they live in their home, what drives them crazy and what makes them happy. Key into their emotions and find out what drives their happiness. When you learn this, you'll know what upgrades will excite them and you won't have to be "pushy" at all!