Why are you leaving money on the table?

If you’ve ever coached a kid’s little league baseball team, you know that you might spend a lot of time at first reminding players to take the bat off of their shoulder.

When you stand up to bat, you just won’t be ready unless you’ve got the bat back and ready to take your cut.

Leaving it on your shoulder simply requires too much adjustment too fast if you are to hit a ball coming toward you.

Most young, inexperienced players can’t make it happen.

Not asking the right questions when in a sales situation is the same sort of thing.

Can you really afford to leave money on the table today?

I don’t mean be a hard sell pain in the butt.

Instead, be helpful. Inquisitive. Thorough.

If you really want to stretch… Pretend to be the least bit interested how the client is using your product / service, ask what they need, talk about what they really get out of your product / service, how they use it and so on.

Part of selling is helping the client figure out exactly what they want (and need).

I leave a hole and it goes unfilled.

Speaking of, I received a sales call last week.

The salesperson almost seemed embarrassed to call and sell their product. Maybe it was a rough day, I dunno.

The thing is, I’m already a customer and the next big thing is now available so I’m clearly vested in what they sell.

It’s not like I’m a cold prospect with no idea what they do/sell. They just need to figure out what my objections might be – if any – and close the sale of the big new thing.

Instead, they just ask for the sale as if they really don’t care one way or the other.

In response, I say something along the lines of “I’m not quite ready” (which is the truth). I pause and leave the opening, hoping they’ll step in.

The opportunity sits there and languishes on the bone. End of discussion, call over.

What should have happened?

  • “I’m sorry to hear that, but if you don’t mind, could I ask a few questions?”

Me: Yeah, sure.

  • “How are you using the products / services?”
  • “How can we help you get more out of our products / services?”
  • “Is there a problem with our products or services?”
  • “Is cash flow tight? A lot of folks are stretched a little thin right now, so we’re doing what we can to get our product / service into their hands so they can use it to make more. Perhaps our payment plan would help. Would you like to hear about it?”
  • “Is there some other reason why you prefer to wait? It’s OK if there is, I’d just like to know if we aren’t where you need us to be.”

Me: Yeah, blah, blah, blah.

  • “So if I fixed that situation, would you be ready to buy?”

Me: “Forced” to either say yes, giving them the opportunity to fix whatever that is, or reveal the real objection (or state another one, which starts the cycle over again).

All the while, the vendor is learning what drives my purchases with them and how they can help me get to where I want to be as it relates to their product. But it never happens.

I’m almost left wondering if my business matters to the vendor.

Put yourself in this vendor’s place.

Can you really afford to leave money on the table right now? I’m guessing most can’t.

Are you training your staff to ask the right questions? Are they being inquisitive? Caring? Curious?

Coffee: The new “Do you want fries with that?”

Mystical station
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jsome1

Anyone who has studied business or marketing for any period of time has looked at the impact that one sentence has had on McDonald’s.

It gets used in sales training every single day because almost everyone is familiar with that upsell. In some cases, it has become a punch line. The increment on each sales transaction was minor, but it adds up store-wide in a big hurry.

The “new black” in MickeyD upsells is moving people to a McCafe coffee drink. Bet on it to be HUGE financially for McDonald’s, even if it is primarily a get-it-and-go sale.

I suspect Ronald McDonald knows better than to think his stores are going to be the next “thirdplace”. Still, with a new upsell of $2.50 to $3.50 to their average transaction, there’s a big payoff.

Thirdplaces can relax, just a tiny little bit

I don’t expect it to hurt Starbucks and independent coffee shops all that much because they tend to be a thirdplace: a meeting place, an escape from the office, a hangout with friends, a place to meet clients and the like.

However, the new McCafe habit could easily impact the drive-up coffee kiosks that saturate street corners and unused parking lot areas nationwide – particularly if they don’t stand out with outstanding service and great coffee.

Having a good reason to drive past McDonald’s wouldn’t hurt their case.

For example, one of the coffee shops here stands out by having a cowgirl theme. The ladies in the kiosk dress like cowgirls (modern day, but still), their branding is Western cowgirl oriented and it flows nicely across their entire business – including their catering trailer. I know people who drive miles across town past 3 or 4 other kiosks just to get coffee from the cowgirl drive-ups.

That’s what standing out will do for you.

I was kidding about the relax thing. Relax? Are you nuts? 🙂

Starbucks just sells coffee.

Look closely at your business. Is there a complementary upsell that you can add to your line of products / services?

Maybe it won’t add 50% to an average transaction like a McCafe drink can, but you should still be looking for things that your customers SHOULD be buying when they buy what they came to the store to get.

Do you let them walk out the door with plywood or 2x4s without asking about nails, screws, liquid nails and other necessities?

Do you sell them a website without asking about other business services that complement their site?

I hear it coming: “Oh, but we just do websites.” Sure. And Starbucks just sells coffee.

If their website looks like it was built with Microsoft Front Page in 1995, it’s reasonable that other aspects of their business could use a refresh as well.

Chances are there will be all sorts of inconsistencies with their stationery, business cards, and in fact their entire marketing message. They may need other help as well. Once all this new stuff rolls out, will their sales staff need training? Will their delivery people or service staff need a reboot on how they do things? Probably.

The tough question: Are you selling them a pile of HTML and graphics or are you giving them the tools they need to take their business to the next level? No one wants to buy HTML. Everyone wants to buy the magic pill that transforms their business, even if that means buying HTML along with a few other things.

Even if you don’t want to, can’t or are not interested in doing those other things, you can always find someone you trust who *can* do them.

Save them from themselves

Remember, an upsell doesn’t have to be an extra. It might be what saves that customer an extra trip back to the store (or worse, to a competitor’s store). It might be what they REALLY TRULY NEED.

Save them money. Save them time. Make sure they have everything they need before they hit the road. I guarantee they’ll remember it if you start saving them return trips to the store, regardless of how much extra they spend during that first trip.