It’s time to be controversial here, so forgive me in advance, but when this title came to me there was a clear route that my mind was going follow. Firstly there would be a step by step list of the best ways of selling more products, or more expensive products, to more people. There would be a clear and definitive list that could be walked through by anyone in order to deliver an overall uplift in revenue, and something that could be achieved quickly. However, as I started to write the piece, I realised that it would be difficult to complete the task because this wasn’t actually an honest belief band the practice of upselling no longer seemed to have a place in my sector of the retail environment.
Since 1998 I have worked in a retailer who has been proud to ‘serve’ the running community of the UK and from day one it was very clear that we held products that people wanted to buy it. We were ‘service providers’ and not purely ‘commodity shifters’.
This approach has served both the company the staff well because the reputation that was gathered, something I have to point out that can’t be bought or sold, has sustained us through the thick and thin of a recession as well as the emergence of the beast that is e-commerce. Customer service is truly the linchpin of retail and is something that encourages loyalty and brand allegiance. Therefore, anything that could break this bond is to be avoided at all costs.
Over the years and especially during the recession, it was tempting to try and force the basket value to be greater than it had been in previous years and this could easily be achieved through a number of techniques. However, in more recent times a key element has changed; Customer Awareness and insight. I feel that the customer has been fed so much ‘fake news’ over so many years that they have become incredibly discerning and this has meant that any ‘Up Selling’ attempts can cause more damage to a business. How many more times do you want to be told that “if you ONLY spend £X more you will get a X% better experience?” When you do, how does that make you feel? Do you like the brand any better or worse? Do you feel a ‘connection’ with the brand still or has a little bit of the, previously felt, love and warmth dissipated with those poorly said words as they drift off into the distance?
The customer in front of you is, potentially, a customer for life. They have come to you for a product and you need to manage their expectations and deliver their expectations. If you can do this by going over and above then this will give you a greater return long run. Sell, sell, (up)sell to them and you could get the sale, but you may just loose one of your greatest elements, that of integrity. In turn you may ultimately loose the customer for life all because of a couple of pounds. Is it worth it?