Explode Your Profits by Upselling

February 2005
by Eric Gelb, MBA, CPA

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Upselling–getting customers to buy more than they originally intended to–can substantially increase your profit margin. It’s much easier to encourage existing customers to increase the size of their orders than it is to land new buyers.

I saw a great demonstration of upselling in Texas one hot and humid day earlier this year. While my usual morning fare consists of coffee light, I decided I needed an ice-cold soda as I was moving through the Dallas—Fort Worth airport. Fortunately, I stumbled on the Taco Bell Express near gate C-17.

As I approached the counter, the four employees were laughing and smiling, enjoying the day. “Hey,” I said, smiling too, “You can’t have so much fun here.”

“Just having a little fun,” one of the servers said. “What can we get for you?”

“Large cola, ice cold, please.”

“Okay, but that’s not enough to get you revved up for your meeting,” she said. “You’ll need some energy, and our food is excellent.” Then she smiled again and looked me straight in the eye.

“What do you recommend?” I asked.

“Without a doubt, you’ll need the Number One Special. You’ll get one Grande Soft Taco and one Beef Burrito Especial. You’ll love the chicken and the beef. You get reduced fat and protein too.”

That smooth upsell raised my check from $2.29 to $6.79.

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