Up-selling: A lot of service contractors hate it. You got into the profession to do a job and it do it well. You’re not here to pester your customers about extra bells and whistles like a car salesman.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you’re a solo contractor trying to generate more business or a business owner trying to get your workers to fill up your sales pipeline, it’s possible to smoothly up-sell your clientele without being pushy.
Before you or an employee goes out to do the work, make sure they understand the job they’re doing and where it fits into the overall services pipeline. If you work on wiring, use top-notch electrician software to track all of your sales opportunities. Ditto with any other services profession.
That way, if you’re already there to install a shower head, you know you don’t need to upsell the customer on a new one, but you might recommend them a matching faucet. That might sound obvious, but having a clear set of steps makes it easier to remember to make the correct upsell.
Another critical aspect of easy up-selling is simply knowing the right questions to ask.
For instance, if you’re an HVAC technician, ask customers concrete questions about how comfortable they are in the home. Is it cool enough in the summer and warm enough in the winter? What are their electrical bills like?
Similarly, if you’re a plumber, ask if they're getting hot water and how quickly it runs out? This might help you sell them on a larger water heater. If you’re an electrician, ask if they’re satisfied with the outlet placement in all of the rooms of their house?
Questions like this can help engage conversation and get the homeowner thinking. Find out about homeowners’ hopes and plans, and you have a good chance of finding a place for your work among them.
Whether it’s you or your employees, every person doing a service call should be prepared for what happens when they win the upsell.
Keep it simple; write it down! Leave for the service call with not only a clear list of your offerings, but make sure that everyone knows which services go together. Many installations will have services for routine maintenance built-in, for instance. Or certain parts will need to be inspected after a set amount of years have past. You’re in it for the long haul, so every opportunity counts.
Moreover, if your conversations with the customer lead to a potential additional sale, make sure they know the exact cost and procedure right then and there – and that you have the right paperwork or estimating software – so you can swiftly close the deal and leave no time for buyer’s remorse.
There are a lot of simple tactics discussed here, but the number one upselling tactic is your attitude. Be friendly, confident, and educational.
Don’t push for the hard sell. Hard sells can set a negative tone for the conversation. Instead, try to develop rapport with the customer. Listen and learn about their home, their woes in the area that you’re there to fix or work on, and ask questions.
Half of upselling is just listening – listening carefully and leading the conversation to a place of opportunity. This builds trust and trust leads to sales.
Let’s call this the pre-upsell. All sales is about relationships, and the service call is an essential point of contact between you, your company, and the customer. While you’re there doing the work, talking about what you see as a professional, and educating the customer on the aspect of their home you’re expert in, you’re laying the groundwork for all future sales.
Get used to hearing “no” when you offer an upsell. Not every offer will be received. Take comfort in the fact that if you aren’t pushy and present a trustworthy attitude to the customer, you’ll be the first one they think of when the time is right.
Taking that one step further, if you can’t close the deal that day, you can get permission to follow-up. Oftentimes, a customer isn’t ready to commit then and there (“I don’t know, I have to talk to my wife…”). The door is still open to make the sale down the road. It's up to you to check back in the future.
Contractors don’t always take naturally to being salespeople, but it’s a lot easier to get employees to try upselling if there’s a direct benefit to them.
If you employ salespeople, you could give the same commission to your workers in the field on their upsells as you would to a salesperson.
Alternatively, you could have a sliding bonus scale for workers who successfully make upsells. You could even go so far as to have a leaderboard to encourage internal competition. Some people will be happy just doing the work – and that’s okay – but others will be eager to upsell and increase the business.
A large percentage of your upsell attempts won’t lead to new deals. That’s just a fact of life. It’s a volume game.
But unlike, say, cold-calling potential customers from a sales center, you have a direct one-on-one experience with the customer that most salespeople would envy. Still, it’s a good idea to look back on each customer service interaction to audit what went right and try to diagnose what went wrong.
This could be a simple questionnaire or process where a service person inputs notes as to why they think a customer did or didn’t bite on an upgrade. It’ll help give you, or you and your team, gather more data on which pitches work best, which approaches are most successful, and identify which trends you should avoid.
Call it a modern, data-based approach for storied professions to win new business.