People are funny creatures. Because they hate being sold to, but they love to buy.
Just like support technicians. They hate selling. But they love fixing people’s problems.
Put the two together, and you have a lovely source of authentic upselling in your business.
What is authentic upselling? It’s where something extra is sold in a business to an existing client, and both parties benefit.
Here’s a great example. When you check into a hotel, and they offer you a big fried hotel breakfast for two people for just £15… “saving” you a tenner off their usual price.
You feel great because you can justify treating yourself. And the hotel makes a stack of extra profit. Authentic upselling is where both parties win.
It’s all down to the way we buy things. We buy in two different ways. The decisions on stuff that we need are made by the brain. They are logical, sensible cognitive decisions.
If all buying decisions were made by the brain, we’d all be driving around in £7,000 Ford Mondeos.
But we’re not. We’re poncing around in £40,000 Audis and BMWs. Why? Because we want them. Because we get inside them and we feel great.
For stuff that we want, the brain only rubber stamps the buying decisions. They are actually made by the heart.
Most considered purchases are bought emotionally. The heart says yes, then the brain justifies. “It will save us money” or “it’s a lot safer than the old one”.
This includes B2B decisions. Even though decision makers at companies are buying for their business, they still buy emotionally.
This is why big marketing agencies wine and dine decision makers, and try to elicit a positive feeling within them. Their actual work is only a small part of the decision process.
I’ve just read a book called Barbarians at the Gate, about the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco in the 1980s (if you enjoy the machinations of business, you’ll love it).
At the end of a 6 week takeover process, the key players were making emotional decisions about the higher bids they were putting in for the business. Because they wanted it. Their brains were just going along for the ride… even though it was a $25 billion transaction!
Back to support technicians then. Every day they are speaking to clients, they will identify opportunities to help them some more. To sell them another service or a product that will really improve their business.
And we now know that the client on the other end of the phone will happily buy it. Because they want the outcome, at an emotional level.
So why don’t all technicians sell these extra products and services??? What’s wrong with them?
Maybe it’s fear. Maybe they’re not motivated enough. Maybe you should bring in an incentive scheme?
Actually, that’s the worst thing you can do. A book called Drive by Daniel Pink explores what motivates humans. Reward schemes work well for basic non-cognitive tasks (“move those bricks from there to there. I’ll give you an extra tenner if you can get it done in an hour”).
But any time we are performing a cognitive task, a reward for results can actually decrease performance. You really should read that book. It will change everything you thought you knew about motivating your staff.
Here’s the answer to greater levels of authentic upselling. Instead of focusing in on the benefits to the business, you focus on the benefits to clients.
And you do it daily. Imagine having a daily 15 minute huddle with your support team. Where you ask them what went well and what didn’t go so well with the previous day’s work.
“We had a real nightmare with Client A,” one technician says. “Their server died and their staff hadn’t done the manual backup for weeks. Look like they’ve lost a load of data”.
“Nightmare,” you say. “If only they’d been on
Inside the technician’s heart: They just moved a little closer to making sure every client has your backup product… because it’s better for the client.
Another day, another huddle. “What went well yesterday?”
“Client B had XYZ problem over the weekend. Because they’re on the Unlimited Support Package we picked it up and got it sorted out before they got into work. Fantastic result”.
Inside the technician’s heart: They see that Unlimited Support is better for the client.
Can you see the huge advantage of doing this?
This is great news. Because it means you don’t need to call a team meeting and shout at them “hey, you lot, you need to sell more. NOW.”
Instead you drip drip drip evidence every day of how clients have better businesses and better lives, by buying and using your products and services.
Do this every day for a year. There’ll be a slight lag, but you’ll soon start to see more authentic selling happening every day. It becomes the everyday culture. A robust way of working, rather than “this month’s promotion”.
The only other thing you need to do is to make sure your technicians are fully educated about the services and products, and the benefits of them to clients.
I would do weekly education sessions. 30 mins a week for everyone. Yes even on things you’ve been selling for years. Everyone needs a refresher. Make them fun. Bring in toys, sweets and Kit-Kats.
Critically, in these education sessions. you must focus on the benefits to clients. It’s the nature of the technician to focus on the technical features. Yet it’s the benefits that sell.
Feature: Unlimited support
Benefit: No matter what goes wrong, you never have to worry about the bill
Feature: Proactive servicing
Benefit: Your computer is less likely to go wrong
Feature: 24/7 backup to the cloud
Benefit: You don’t have to think about anything. It just happens. And it’s safe