Upselling: Timing is Key, Learn When To Stop


I really dislike calling service companies, like the telephone or cable companies, with questions or concerns. I know what’s coming – they will help me (or try to) and then at the end of the call, highlight a new feature or service and try to get me to buy.

I know it’s coming, and I’m sure it’s part of the employee standards that have to be followed. It’s their job, but to those who train the staff managing customer calls – please train your staff to understand that when it comes to upselling services, timing is everything and know when to stop.

Last week I had trouble with my cable TV. I had just changed out my furniture in the family room and the cable box was no longer working. I went to the company’s website and it said there was an outage in my area, but I couldn’t quite tell if that was the problem or if it was something I did.

I was not in the mood to call the company, knowing that at the end I would be a hostage in hearing of new services; I thought the live chat would be easier and less intrusive. I was wrong.

Things were going okay and while we were chatting, the TV suddenly started working, so I’m thinking it was an outage. I thank the rep and see that he’s about to pitch a new service. I think to myself that I’ll see what he says and politely decline, and I’ll be on my way.

No such luck. Here is how the rest of the chat went. After my last statement, I waited a few moments with no response from the rep. I was thinking that, perhaps by staying in the chat room, I was giving him some sort of authorization to send me whatever initial email he referenced earlier, so I printed the chat and left the room.

chat blog2

Two things went wrong here:

  • First, I don’t know that it’s appropriate to try to sell additional services when a customer is having issue with one of your services. I wonder if the companies feel that customers will be more likely to add on after an issue has been resolved, but in my experience, I’m usually cranky that something isn’t working right and just want to resolve it and move on. Additionally, if the rep does not have my history available (I’m not sure if they do or not), they may not know that this is the third time I’ve called in a week about the same issue and may be close to dropping the service. If that’s the case, trying to sell additional services could be the end of the relationship.
  • Second, no means no. I did telemarketing one summer in college and remember that we were trained to make the customer say no at least two times before we could end the call; I get the impression that the same is the case here. However, to push it to the point of saying “don’t even use the service, focus on saving $10 a month” is over the top and sounds desperate to me – either the rep really needs to make a sale to keep his job, or he just wants to say he closed sales and doesn’t care if it benefits the customer at all. Either way, it turned me off completely as a customer.

Upselling is an art form really; it’s about timing and presentation. Done effectively, it could do wonders for growing sales. Done incorrectly, it could result in losing customers over time.


Comments are closed.