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Meryl Snow

The Event Pro’s Guide to Mastering the Art of Strategic Upselling

Yes, there is even more business out there for you--and here's how to win it.

A major sales strategy for increased profit is strategic upselling. Right now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “How could I possibly increase my sales volume when clients continue to tighten their spending?” Oh, but you can! There’s no secret to upselling--it’s merely a sales strategy.

What is strategic upselling?

Strategic selling involves increasing your competitive advantage by strengthening your ability to communicate your uniqueness, value and competitive differential to a customer or prospect.

As a matter of fact, upselling is the quickest and easiest way to increase your sales. Keep in mind that, on average, upselling can boost sales by 20 percent to 42 percent, simply by asking your own version of “Want fries with that?”

Here are some upselling techniques:

·         Put an upsell right on your proposal. This method is one of the easiest and most profitable techniques you can start implementing immediately. At the end of the proposal, add a few sentences about some cool ideas you have. It can be something as simple as a signature beverage, late-night bites or ambience lighting. You can expect to get a 25 percent upsell rate on average. That means one out of every four clients will give you more money just for adding a few words onto your proposal.

·         Silently selling while meeting with the client. This is handled a few different ways. If the client meeting is in your office, make sure you have good-quality photographs hung on the walls, looping on your iPad or in an open photo album. Remember, humans are visual, and images appeal a lot to the senses. If your client ordered standard linens, have a few gorgeous upgraded linens in the event theme lying around. Take your client on a tour of your shop. Something will catch their eye, and chances are that they will want to add it to the event. You get the picture.

·         Customers who bought “this” also bought “this.” In my opinion, Amazon is the master of the upsell. How difficult would it be to have a few proposals of other events in actual client files (with names redacted) to show your client? People are always curious about what others have chosen at their events. You will notice a significant increase in sales.

·         New and different. One of my favorites is contacting the client out of the blue and letting them know that you just saw in a magazine or conference something brand-new on the market and you thought of them first. They'll be flattered that you were thinking about their event--who doesn't want something new and different?

Be warned however, upselling can backfire. Keep it simple, as complicated offers confuse customers. Don't oversell your products or services and, most importantly, know when a client really means no.

Develop a company-wide sales plan that you can incorporate in your daily schedule that includes six to 10 products or services. Integrate procedures you will take to implement an effective upselling blueprint.

The key to successful upselling is to train salespeople to focus their efforts on meeting the clients' needs, not just to sell more stuff. By doing this, you will increase your margins and build client loyalty.

Remember: Have a solid understanding of what your client needs, establish a relationship of trust with the client, and have confidence in your work.

With nearly 30 years in the special event and catering industry, Meryl Snow is the co-founder of Feastivities Events and the creator of The Triangle Method. As a senior consultant for Certified Catering Consultants, she travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding to help businesses get on their own path to success.


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