upselling techniquesUpselling techniques in auto dealerships should be encouraged, developed internally, and always keep the customers’ best interests in mind.

When you first started selling cars, you were probably thrilled to make a sale. Any sale. As long as you were moving inventory and making your monthly numbers, you were pleased as punch. However, as you got settled in and began to hone your selling technique, you realized that other salespeople were consistently pulling in bigger commissions than you, even though they were selling pretty much the same amount of vehicles.

After a little investigation, you learned the answer: the other salespeople were upselling.

Upselling is when you actively try to sell a more enhanced or expensive product than one the customer was initially interested in. In the automotive world, salespeople use upselling techniques to get a buyer to choose a newer model or purchase add-ons like an extended warranty.

Some people feel like upselling a customer feeds into the sleazy salesperson stereotype, but that’s only because there are too many folks in sales that are doing it wrong. Upselling techniques should not only be used, but they should also be encouraged and developed by dealership management.

If your sales manager hasn’t talked about upselling in any of your regular sales meetings, mention to them that you’d love to learn more and think everyone would benefit from it. Ask if it would be possible to show the team how to plan out when they should and should not upsell to customers and what types of upsells usually work out the best for both parties.

upselling techniques

5 Basic upselling techniques you need to master

1. Get personal

Get the customer’s name right off the bat and don’t be afraid to use it. According to research, customers tend to like you more when you use their name a few times during a conversation (just don’t go overboard and look totally crazy). People will also assume you’re more competent if you take the time to remember names and use them. The simple act of addressing a customer by their name will help develop a repertoire much faster, and improve your chances of upselling.

2. Show, don’t tell

If you’re trying to get a potential buyer into a newer model than they were planning to buy, fight the urge to talk too much. Yes, you should certainly explain to them why the newer model is superior and what features they would enjoy, but if the model is sitting right there on your lot, let it speak for itself too.

Show them the stowaway seats and how much room there is when you tuck them away. Show them how they can connect their smartphone to Bluetooth and play Spotify through their speakers. Show them how comfortable the leather seats are and how much leg room they can enjoy. Get them on a test drive to show them how fun it is to operate. It’s one thing to tell people about cool features, but it’s far more compelling if they can experience them.

3. Keep it realistic

When a customer walks through your dealership’s doors and tells you they’re thinking about buying a 2012 Honda CR-V, don’t segue into trying to upsell a brand new Land Rover. When you’re upselling, the upgrade should only cost slightly more than the original vehicle.

If the price difference is too big, you’re more likely to confuse the buyer and far less likely to make any sale. In the world of upselling, the general recommendation is that you don’t go higher than 25% above the original product. So, if a buyer is looking at a vehicle in the $20,000 range, try not to push anything more than $25,000.

upselling techniques

4. Don’t be too aggressive 

You know all of those car salespeople out there that give upselling a bad name? Most of them are far too aggressive and pushy in their upselling techniques. You gain credibility by remembering and using a customer’s name, but you can quickly lose that credibility if you start to push too hard. Work upselling into the conversation naturally, so if you meet resistance when you make the offer, just back off to prevent any bad feelings.

5. Make the customer understands the value 

You should never attempt an upsell just because you want to make more money. You need to think about the customer, what their needs are, and how they would benefit from spending a little more money. Instead of pushing them to spend more and not explaining why, you need to make them feel like you’re helping them win in some way.

By helping them see the value in spending a bit more, your upselling will seem more natural. Additionally, if a customer can tell you’re putting their needs first, you’ll develop a deeper bond that will hopefully result in repeat business over the coming years.

According to the book Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%, but the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. Once you’ve sealed the deal with someone, keep them in the loop at your dealership. Send a thank you note, let them know about service deals, and e-mail them on their car’s “birthday.” All of these actions provide opportunities to sell, upsell, and create a relationship that may just lead to constant referrals.

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