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Heather Jones

How to Upsell to Event Clients to Make More Money and Keep Them Happy

When done right, upselling to event clients is a win for both the vendor and the client.

The art of upselling to your current clients can not only help increase your revenues, but can address their needs more fully, improving their overall experience as well. If you look at upselling from the perspective of fulfilling all of your clients’ wishes in a single stop, you can grow your business and your clients’ satisfaction simultaneously, and propel your business into a whole new plane of excellence.

Understand what drives your client.
Upselling truly is an art, and you have to approach it both delicately and with confidence to do it just right. It starts by knowing your clients. Are they budget-conscious? Concerned with “keeping up appearances,” or particularly focused on ingredient quality? Knowing your clients allows you to customize their experience, create ideas that you know will sit well with them and enhance the conversation before you ever sit down to discuss your ideas.

Make your recommendations specific.
Having confidence in your recommendations also goes a long way towards making it easier for clients to say “yes.” Make sure you have specific ideas and pricing ready to go. Look for items that make sense and that are difficult to reject. If it’s a hot summer day, for instance, suggest adding homemade lemonade or punch to the beverage menu. If you know your client has a sweet tooth, suggest small treats to enhance the dessert selection. Work with your chef to find the most cost-efficient items to upsell to guests.

Be creative.
Don’t forget that rental items are easy upgrades. Suggest a more exciting linen, and emphasize how it takes so little to completely transform an event space. Or add just one water glass in a different color for an eclectic tablescape. An upgrade may only generate a few hundred dollars, but over the course of several upsales and several events, the revenue adds up.

Be a storyteller.
The best salespeople are storytellers. At your tasting, add extra items that your clients did not request, but that you know go with their event. Tell a story about each item to help create an image of why they must have it. The story doesn’t necessarily have to be true as long as you believe it--it just has to be good!

Remember the ‘don’ts’ of upselling.
Do not simply hand over a price sheet of upsell items and ask if your clients want to add anything. An organic conversation is much more effective. And don’t try to upsell constantly. Choose your opportunities carefully where they make the most sense and can be worked into the process naturally. Keep the pressure low and the options well-chosen.

By approaching upselling from the “how can I help you,” perspective, you’ll not only sell more, but you will actually improve client satisfaction and make your customers happier. It’s a worthwhile effort for mutual gain.

Heather Jones is the catering sales director for Wente Vineyards, a family-owned property in Livermore, Calif., that is home to a winery and vineyards, a golf course, restaurant, and a range of unique facilities for hosting weddings and special events.


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