MARKETING: Upselling is both an art and a mind game

July 17, 2003

Kamron Karington is a marketing specialist and former owner of two pizzerias. He is the author of "The Black Book: Your Guide to Creating Staggering Profits In Your Pizza Business."

Here's an astonishing fact: 127.5 million gallons of water "leak" right through Hoover Dam -- every year. That's enough to fill 8,395 swimming pools. This water seeps invisibly -- through 7 million tons of concrete, yet, this gusher is invisible to the naked eye.

Kamron Karington

Your pizza business also has a leak. It's leaking cash. And, lot's of it! I'm going to show you how to plug that invisible leak -- a gusher neither you nor the best trained accountants will ever find on any balance sheet.

Where is this fountain of money? Right there in your customers' wallet -- money they're eager to spend. They just need a little help, which you're going to provide through precise, proven, scientific means.

Complicated? Not at all.

The source of this money stream is upselling, the single easiest way to generate more cash in your pizza business. It's practically effortless because it's done after the customer has already decided to buy from you.

Most pizza shops can easily generate an extra $7,000-$37,000 every year just from upselling. In fact, 30 percent to 67 percent of all people can be up sold at the time of purchase. And, of those customers, ticket increases of 15 percent to 25 percent are common.

Think about it: They customer already has picked you and your operation. Their money is on the table and they're in "buying mode." They're what salesmen call a hot prospect.

But, many upsellers unwittingly offend customers by being too pushy with suggestive sales ideas, or "leave money on the table" that customers would willingly have spent because they weren't aggressive enough. Both options are costly.

Here's the secret to getting upselling right:

The buying mode takes place in the right half of the brain, the emotional half. The left brain ponders questions.

Why is that important? Because saying something like, "Would you like the extra large pizza?" will kill the upsell because you are asking a question. You have interrupted the customer's thought pattern by forcing them to switch over to a different "state" of mind in order to process the question and answer you. You have unintentionally snapped them out of buying mode, and any chance at upselling has been diminished greatly.

How we're wired

When your mind is in buying mode, it's similar to that trance you get into on the drive home. Unless another driver honks or swerves in front of you, you pretty much arrive home fairly unaware of the details of the drive.

So, avoid asking upselling questions that "honk" at the customer, or cut him off during the buying process.

The trick is to be suggestive to customers in buying mode. The old saw that people like to buy but don't like to be sold is true. Buying is fun for customers because they are in control.

But when they're being sold, they're not in control. And the minute customers perceive they're being sold, they put up their defenses.

Upselling should not increase the original purchase by more than 25 percent. If they're ordering a $15 pizza, you can bump it to $18.75 before you hit resistance. People do have a mental limit as to how much they will spend.

Good upsellers learn to sneak past those defenses by avoiding words that raise the caution flag. Allow me to explain:

A customer calls and says, "I'd like to order a pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers."

That's the time for the upseller to say, "Extra Cheese on That?" To strengthen the suggestion, the upseller should raise the pitch of his voice on the word "cheese," and say the sentence as if assuming the customer wants extra cheese. Also, by increasing the inflection at the end of the sentence, it makes the phrase sound as if everyone gets extra cheese.

Now, were the upseller to say, "Do you want extra cheese on that?" he would cause the customer to stop to make a decision, which interrupts the buying sequence. Now his thought process is, "Do I want extra cheese? What will it cost me? Is it worth it?"

The result is that a confused mind always says "no."

Let's take the conversation further by addressing pizza size.

Customer: "I'd like to order a pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers."

Upseller: "Extra Cheese On That?"

Customer: "Sure."

Upseller: "That's a large?"

Customer: "Right."

After the order is placed and the upselling done, you may now ask a very profitable question. "What else can I get for you?"

This question causes an automatic "mental movie" to play. The customer visualizes the experience he is about to have and searches his mind for any "missing" items. You'll find people blurting out things like, "Do you have any root beer?" or, "What kind of salads do you have?"

"What else can I get for you?" will generate more sales. "Is that everything?" will generate no sales.

Three rules for upselling success

Rule #1. Sell, then Tell.

Do not attempt to upsell until you have the main sell. Many people start talking about the add-ons before the customer has even made a commitment to the original purchase. Don't make that mistake. Let customers get into full buying mode, then upsell.

Rule #2. Strive for 25.

Upselling should not increase the original purchase by more than 25 percent. If they're ordering a $15 pizza, you can bump it to $18.75 before you hit resistance. People do have a mental limit as to how much they will spend. So, just because they are in "buying mode" doesn't mean they've gone insane.

Rule #3. Relate, Don't Irritate.

The upsell item must have a direct correlation to the item being bought. Some shops have a pretty extensive menu. If the customer is ordering pizza -- don't try to upsell a hamburger. Keep it to pizza related items.

Start up selling today! Even modest results will get you a free vacation. Let me show you how:

Let's say you average 300 orders per week, and, let's say you upsell only 20 percent of them. Remember, you should be able to hit at least 30 percent. Anyway, 30 pizzas sold with extra cheese at a cost of $1.50 = $45. Thirty upsells from a medium to a large at $2 = $60.00. Therefore, $60.00 + $45.00 = $105.00 per week. Not a big deal -- yet.

That measly $105 per week adds up to, $5,460.00 per year. Of that you should expect to drop at least $4,095 to the bottom line after food cost.

Want some proof? Click here.

See you in Maui.

Topics: Marketing

Sponsored Links:

Related Content

Latest Content

comments powered by Disqus