It can if you don’t time the ask right

Lately I have been writing about personal experiences because it has been so rife with poor, almost comical sales experiences.  Lessons show up every day on what “not to do” in sales encounters.

I recently requested a quote for hedge trimming at my home. The landscape company owner showed up.  Before I stepped out of the front door he exclaimed, “Wow, this is two-fer!” I asked, “What???”  He shouted, “Your roof tiles need pressure cleaning.”  Then he told me my palm trees needed some work too.  I asked if he could just give me a quote on the hedge trimming.

This would be comical if it wasn’t so counterproductive for the sales guy.  He then proceeded to tell me, before looking at my hedges, about his wife’s new restaurant opening soon, and that we “must try it.”  All I wanted was a hedge trimming quote.  All I got was a constant upsell.  Additionally, it took him way too long to produce a handwritten price quote for a simple hedge trimming job.

I may have been open to the other things he wanted to sell, and the restaurant, if he had addressed my needs first. But his overwhelming need to upsell or cross sell his services was my first interaction.  This similar failing plays out in all kinds of businesses both B2B and B2C.  Customer needs must always come first. This is not a news flash.

He was right about the roof tile, but I sure won’t be using him!

So I called another outfit that specializes in cleaning.  Sales guy #2 showed up and it was a completely different experience!  He listened as I described my roof tile needs and concerns.  A neighbor had his roof cleaned (by someone else) and told me about the damage it did to his landscaping and lawn.  This guy knew exactly what had happened and described how the wrong approach using the wrong chemicals had caused the damage.  He named the chemicals they used, and why they used them.  Then he said, “I will never use those chemicals.  I use my chemicals on my own house.”  He offered to show us the safety sheets for all of his chemicals.  His knowledge and experience gave me confidence his firm was the right one. 

Then a big surprise.  He couldn’t give me an immediate quote, because he needed my permission to use a drone to assess the work needed for the roof.  I said of course!  And his pricing system was entirely automated, so I was provided an instant quote later that same day.

He had quick intelligent answers to all our questions, and he did not try to sell more than I asked.  At a later point I learned he also did driveway cleaning and sealing, so I asked him to quote on it.  

I did his upselling for him!  It started with roof cleaning and ultimately included our driveway and pool deck.  And along the way, I didn’t even bother to compare prices with sales guy #1.  I wanted to work with someone that gave me confidence.

Sales guy #2 did what sales guy #1 failed to do – build confidence and reduce risk in my choice.  Only after this has been accomplished should you focus on upselling.  Otherwise you risk coming across as an unwelcome high pressure sales person. If I wanted that, I’d go shopping for a used car!

Please note, I am not saying cross selling/upselling should not be done.  Of course, it should be done; it is critical for most businesses.  It is not “if” you should upsell but “when” you should upsell.

Remember the motto:  Build confidence and reduce risk for your prospects.  When you do this, price often is minimized as an issue.  

How do you and your sales team build confidence and reduce risk in the buying decision?  Do you first sell what they want to buy, or do you try to sell all of what you want to sell?  Remember, upselling is not a bad thing, it just needs to be handled carefully with smart timing.  Does your organization train your salespeople on “sales timing”?

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