Upselling Techniques to Beat the Winter Sales Blahs

Posted Feb 28th, 1998 in From Vito's Desk

Upselling Techniques to Beat the Winter Sales Blahs

A Food for Thought Article in the February 1998 Issue of Natural Health Products Report  (Trade Magazine)  

Vito Pirri is a well-known retailer and partner in Simply Consulting, a natural-product marketing firm helping retailers to stay on top of a changing market.

by Vito M. Pirri

The holidays are over and the winter blahs have now set in. For the sharp retailer, this is the time to upsell your customers.

Stimulate sales by changing things around. The same merchandise in a different location will start to sell again. Merchandise your store in a way that appeals to different “lifestyles”. Train your staff to show the customer every product in that particular section, not just the item the customer has come in to purchase. If someone is buying diet tea, that’s your sales clue to show them other weight-related products that are merchandised in that same section. Meal Replacements, fat-burning supplements, zone bars, weight loss supplements should all be displayed together.

A related category to weight loss is “fitness”. Contact fitness clubs in your area such as YMCA, and offer their members a free product or sample when they visit your store. The new customer can now be shown your “fitness” section and educated on a wide variety of products available to them in that category.

Prominent bold signage can easily direct the customers to the area of the store that interests them. Make sure your staff is on a first-name basis with as many customers as possible. They must also be able to find the location of all products in the store in an instant, in order to service efficiently and profitably.

Make sure your customer doesn’t have to shop anywhere else to get that EDLP, (every day low price). This can be done by tagging products in your store; with a SVP sticke. (Special Value Product). The SVP enables the customer to buy these products at an escalating discount depending on the amount purchased. For example: if a customer purchases $1.00 to $25.00 the earn an automatic 5% discount: for purchases $25.00 t0 $50.00 give them 10% discount, and so on. The customer who purchases $23.00 worth of stickered products, would, if your staff suggested it, probably spend the extra $2.00 to obtain the 10% discount you are offering. That is upselling!

Your staff is an integral and vital part of the upselling process.

They must be trained to make the suggestion and seek opportunity to make it. Often, customers are pleased with your concern and even refreshed by your staff’s helpful attitude.

Never underestimate the power of suggestion. Did you know that 25% of health food shoppers purchase a brand name breakfast cereal when they are in a health food store? When the customer comes to the cash register with their box of cereal, ask them if they have tried the new cereal from the same company. Chances are they will buy their old favourite and try the new one as well. You have now sold two boxes of cereal, not just one. This also gives the customer something to talk about with friends and that “word of mouth” is also a method of upselling.

A frequent Buyers Card programme is another ideal method of upselling. Ask your customer if they’re interested in receiving your monthly newsletter and sales flyers. Most will be. Have them fill out an application to become a Frequent Buyer’s Club.

This card entitles them to receive a discount, on a specific day, once a month, or once a week, whichever you prefer. On that day, showing their Frequent Buyer’s Card gives them a 10% discount on unadvertised products. You have now turned a mediocre sales day into the best day of the week or even the month.

The Frequent Buyer’s Card can also be used to upsell on a daily basis. Highlight certain products (slow movers or new items) with signs worded like:




This builds impulse sales and stimulates the customer to shop more often at your store because they know you’ll have something at “the best price in town”. Now that’s upselling!

Successful upselling also means avoiding common merchandising errors. One faux pas is putting similar merchandise in different areas of your store. For instance, always market salad dressing and oils in the same area. These products should then flow into your condiments, vinegars, etc. Why? It’s easier to upsell products by reminding the customer of the item. Reminding them “to buy a bottle of canola oil and get a package of a dry salad dressing (which happens to require oil) for 10% off”. You have now stimulated the sale of a product the customer may need (dressing), may not have tried but may now buy again.

Upselling can also involve using a “value added” feature. By adding a small package of “simulated soy bacon bits” to a bottle of salad dressing, you’re spending a little to make a lot. Again you’ve introduced them to a product that may be new to them and which they may continue to purchase from you!