McDonald's hit the up-selling nail right on the head with their iconic question, "Would you like fries with that?"
While independent consultants may have to find a more elegant approach to getting clients interested in investing additional budget dollars in their consulting services, using similar tactics could lead to bigger profits. As we near the year's end, it's important to use your current client base to generate new business for 2017 and beyond. While some of your clients may be net-new, a great source of business can be the 'up-sell' or 're-sell' of your current client base. Just make sure you're positioning yourself as a value-add, not an added cost.
First things first. Consider the client - is what you're offering something that will drive ROI in 2017 and beyond? Successfully up-sell your clients by making sure the product or service you're offering is a highly-relevant, value add-on to the primary purchase. For example, if you've developed a marketing strategy for a client, you may find the client to be receptive to a social media program to support their marketing efforts, or they may wish for ongoing analytics reporting.
Since most people purchase products or services to meet some need, identify what the common needs are among your clients and offer solutions that meet those needs - as long as they are within your area of expertise. For example, tennis clubs sell rackets and tennis balls. A yoga studio will likely sell mats and yoga apparel. It's the same for services - if you're doing IT consulting for a client that isn't tech savvy, you might offer to sell training services. If you are working with large amounts of your client's data, offering to streamline or organize their information systems might garner interest.
When you next meet with your client, let them speak first. Listen to their stories and their problems, and then see if you have a solution or service to offer. Even informal client conversations can offer insight into how you can offer an actionable solution to a current or ongoing issue, and this is often an up-sell from your current project scope.
Special deals, promotions or bundling can sweeten the pot. Just like that buy two, get one free deal at the grocery store can entice you, so will the opportunity to grab something that offers added value for a discounted rate. For instance, if you offer content writing services and you write web copy for a client, then perhaps you can offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services for an additional flat rate. Perhaps you can offer weekly blog posts to the site for an even bigger package.
Make sure your customer knows all of the benefits that come from the service or product you're offering. Focus on areas like cost savings, added security, peace-of-mind or an all-in-one solution, and offer tangible metrics or ROI wherever possible in your pitch. Be able to show your clients that the up-sell offer is a beneficial purchase. Where possible, provide the numbers on long-term savings to make benefits sound even more compelling. For example, let them know if they'll be saving $110 a month or $1,320 a year, etc.
It's also important to point out that up-selling is most successful if you strike while the iron is hot. Clients heading towards the end of the year have two mentalities - spend, spend, spend or save, save, save. Depending on when your client's fiscal year ends (which may or may not be the calendar year end) this may be the best (or the worst) time to pitch a new project. Know your client's unique variablities, but often keep in mind that clients have varying budgets and providing several options will help your add-on services be attractive to budget-conscious clients as well as those with deep pockets.
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News and notes for independent professionals and their clients. This is the August 28, 2017 edition.