PaintPRO, Vol. 8, No. 1
January/February 2006
PaintPRO, Vol 8 No 1

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Other articles in this issue:
Applying Low-VOC Paints
Clear Wood Finishes
Contractor: Fine Painting & Decorating
Technology: Concrete Toppings
Technique: Glazed Finishes
Business Strategies: Marketing
Estimating, Etc.
Toolbox: Measuring Devices
Finishing Touch
Paint Industry News
Product News
Product Profiles

PaintPRO Archives



Business Management: Significant Sales

30 Seconds to Significant Sales. How to up-sell without turning off your customer.
by Jeff Mowatt

If you and your employees aren’t trained on effective ways to up-sell, chances are you may either offend customers by being too pushy or leave money on the table that customers would have willingly spent with you. Either option is costly.

Up-selling refers to when you help a customer decide to buy a little extra or “upgrade” slightly the final purchase. A car dealer, for example, might inform customers at the time of ordering about upholstery protection and undercoating. A shoe salesperson might suggest that when you buy a pair of shoes that you also use some weatherproofing spray. Painting contractors might suggest using two coats of paint — or a higher grade of paint — for a better finish.

Even better, when a customer is getting a bid on painting their dining room, a contractor can offer to upgrade to a beautiful Venetian plaster or other faux finish. It is exciting for the customer to learn about new options he or she may never have thought of, and you will be sure to make more money on the upgraded job.

Up-selling should be easy
The best part of up-selling is that it’s practically effortless. Since it’s done after the customer has decided to go ahead with a major purchase, the hard part of the sales conversation has already been done. You’ve already established rapport, identified needs, summarized, presented benefits, asked for the order and handled objections. Up-selling is just presenting the information in a “by-the-way” assumptive manner.

The 3 biggest mistakes in up-selling:

  1. No attempt is made to up-sell.
  2. The contractor comes across as being pushy.
  3. The up-selling is made in an unconvincing manner so the customer generally refuses.

Effective up-selling strategies
You’ve got to assume that the customer will naturally want this. Begin the up-sell with a brief benefit, then, if possible, add something unique about what you’re suggesting. To avoid sounding pushy, particularly if the up-sell requires some elaboration, ask for the customer’s permission to describe it.

Here’s an example of the wrong way to up-sell. Imagine dining at a restaurant where you’ve just finished a big meal. The server asks, “Would you care for dessert?” If you say, “Yes,” you might give the impression of overindulging. So many customers refuse out of politeness. Result — no sale.

So the savvy server doesn’t ask if the customer wants dessert. The professional just assumes that when people go out for a meal they are treating themselves. So of course they’ll want to treat themselves to dessert. In this case, the server pulls up the dessert tray and says, “To finish off your meal with a little something sweet, (that’s the benefit), I brought the dessert tray over for you.” Would you like to hear about the most popular ones?” (Ask permission to proceed.)

When the customer agrees to hear about the desserts, the server doesn’t just list them by name; he describes their benefits. So rather than saying, “This is chocolate mousse.” Instead he’d say something like, “If you like chocolate you’ll love this. We’ve got a chocolate mousse that melts in your mouth and makes you wonder what the ordinary people are doing today.”

Of course, you are not offering desserts. Applying this to a painting contract, you might say, “Since we’ll already be on site with our people and equipment, there are a couple of areas I noticed on the rest of the property that we can take care of without costing much more. Would it be helpful if I gave you some prices?” By offering to tell them about other services that are available, you are doing both of you a favor.

l Focus on customer needs — not yours. Don’t try to sell the customer something you wouldn’t buy if you were in their shoes. It is totally irrelevant whether or not this purchase suits your needs; what is relevant is whether it suits the customer’s. That perspective empowers you to up-sell effectively and with integrity.

l Group related products. It’s a good idea to group similar add-ons and offer them as an up-sell at a package price. If someone is getting the exterior of their house painted, it only makes sense to show them a package deal that groups a better paint and a longer-lasting caulk at a package price.

Bottom line
Every contractor should realistically look at up-selling as an important part of doing business. In most instances, up-selling can make a big difference on the bottom line.

This article is based on the critically acclaimed book “Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month,” by business strategist and international speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff to do training for your team, visit or call 1.800.JMowatt (566.9288).

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