Jackson Multiple Products

Primed for the Upsell

Steven Jackson is the Product Manager of Digital Technologies at STAHLS'. As a veteran in the apparel industry, Steven has developed an in-depth knowledge of the heat-applied graphic process and trends. He also has previously developed a one-of-a-kind hands-on workshop for the Roland VersaCAMM and was the site administrator for MyVersaCAMM.com, a site that regularly hosts chat sessions on with topics covering the gamut of the apparel industry including digital decoration, heat-applied graphics, sign making and social networking. 

If you are not upselling customers, you are not maximizing sales. We’ve all heard the maxim that it’s easier to sell more to existing customers than to find a new customer. If you are not actively engaged in doing this, it’s time for a change.

If you’re not telling your customers about all that you offer, you are leaving money on the table. Most customers appreciate suggestions on how a design can be enhanced or what complementary items are available to further get out a message. At the end of the day, these clients not only wind up spending more money, but they’re more satisfied with what they got.

What we’re really talking about is upselling—a term that many decorators shudder at. But it doesn’t have to be a pushy process. When done well, it puts the salesperson in a consultative or educational role. Sound like a role you’d like to take on? Let’s take a look at how to use your sales skills and shop tools to your upselling advantage.

Keep current

Before anything else, you have to put yourself and your sales team into an upselling mindset. One of the keys is staying up to date with the latest trends, products, and looks. Make time to check out what people are wearing and using all around you—on the street, in the mall, and in television, videos, and movies. Read Printwear and browse through supplier newsletters and emails to be among the first to know the newest trends and products.

Chances are, if you’re among the first to have products such as the latest bling material or metallic decals, customers will be impressed with your knowledge, and trust your recommendations.

Go the Extra Mile

Artwork provides another upselling opportunity. If the client supplied the art, look for ways to enhance it. One example would be to add a drop shadow to the type to give it a beveled look. It won’t cost anything more to produce and customers will be blown away by the enhancements and willing to pay more. Take the time to explain enhancement options, and then offer to make those design improvements at no charge.

Customers generally appreciate this gesture, and it sets the stage to suggest complementary products or upgraded materials they may like. This tactic makes your upsell come across as helpful versus pushy.

Sell on Supplies

Higher-quality or special-effect printer/cutter materials are another upselling option. Glitter is a great example. Anticipate which niche customers will gravitate toward bling or other special effects, and make sure to show those clients what is available. Upgrading a standard material increases the perceived value, which allows you to charge more even though the materials’ price difference may be minimal. 

One of the best ways to prove to customers the worth of pricier options is to have a sample media book. Allow customers to browse through it and ask questions giving you an opportunity to provide more information. A good way to organize the samples is to give customers several options in three categories: good, better, and best. Show samples of all three and allow customers to weigh the higher quality versus higher price. Higher quality always speaks for itself.

Or, consider creating an electronic sample book by uploading photos to a tablet or iPad. Let clients swipe through examples and impress them with this high-tech method of showing off your work.

The Extras

In some situations, such as onsite events, you have many opportunities to upsell. For example, you might be offering a T-shirt with a logo printed on the back. What if you offer the option to add a number or name on the sleeve? You could charge an extra $2 or $3 and increase the sale from $10 to $13. That’s a 30 percent increase!

In terms of this idea, don’t let conventional T-shirt placements limit you. Take the brand North Face as an example. They add small prints to garment hem lines and other odd places, and this tactic sells. Take note.

Beyond additional T-shirt placements, think of complementary products you can add on to sales. For example, if a customer orders T-shirts for a 5K running event, suggest bumper stickers they can give to the runners, or water bottle decals. Printing these products with a printer/cutter is as easy as switching out the media.

Furthermore, if you have customers who use banners or T-shirts for an annual event, mark that event down on the calendar. Contact them several months prior to let them know you’re thinking about the event and have some idea you’d like to share. You might add on to last year’s order merely by suggesting a new or trendy product.

Keep It Going

To get staff onboard with upselling, schedule a training session where you go over the latest trends and products, discuss what you think you will be able to use to upsell to customers, and share some upselling success stories that will help employees understand how to upsell correctly.

Take the time to work on subtle but effective upselling techniques with them individually. It’s smart to revisit these training sessions every few months to refresh staff on what’s new and to share new upselling techniques.

In addition, take time to shadow each person on your sales team every so often. You can see how they operate and where they have room for improvement or missed opportunities. Don’t present it as an evaluation, but simply as constructive feedback.

Use eMarketing and Social Media

One of the easiest ways to upsell is to use email marketing and social media tools such as Facebook. Upselling online may seem like it’s challenging, but there are ways to make it work. Consider Amazon.com, for example. When you add a product to your cart, products related to that product pop up at the bottom of the screen.

Applying this to our world: say someone has added a custom banner to her online cart for a family reunion. Why not recommend T-shirts using the same graphic? If your website doesn’t have that capability, you have the option of sending a follow-up email promoting possible add-ons.

Another way to use the Internet to upsell is by having online photo galleries on the website and a Facebook page. If you decide to use galleries, be sure to update them frequently so customers see the latest designs and products. Another tip: Ask customers if you can snap a photo of an item from their order and post it to Facebook and tag them. Most people will happy to let you do this and will likely be flattered by your request. They may even direct new clients to your Facebook page to check out photo galleries.

Seal the Deal

Last, but not least, make sure you are listening. We’ve all encountered the salesperson who talked too much. By tuning into what customers are saying and paying attention to reactions, you can glean information that will provide helpful hints on what type of enhancements to suggest.

Watch for cues in the form of facial expressions and body language to know if you’re coming across as pushy or persuasive. A consultative rather than a hard sales approach ensures customers feel enlightened, not pressured. When a client leaves your business, they should feel as if you tried to do the best job possible, not as if they were squeezed for their last penny.

Upselling may seem like hard work at first, and that’s because it is. It requires practice, patience and actively paying attention to industry trends and customers. However, with consistent effort, upselling becomes natural and, over time, will really pay off.