Operations

Upselling, Downselling, And Everything In Between

Lexi Tucker
Posted on June 27, 2018
Bill Faeth presents to a rapt audience during his LAB Live event, where he spoke about building authentic relationships that will help your business down the road (Photo credit: Blake Russell).

Bill Faeth presents to a rapt audience during his LAB Live event, where he spoke about building authentic relationships that will help your business down the road (Photo credit: Blake Russell).

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — How many people who answer the phone in your office do you actually consider trained salespeople? This was the question Bill Faeth, founder of Limo University, asked the audience during his LAB Live event April 9 and 10.

“The biggest fundamental mistake we make in this industry is that our customer service reps are, for the most part, data-entry order takers,” he said.

While your chauffeurs may be the face of your company, your CSRs are its welcoming voice. To rack up more clients, you need people who understand your product and service and will use that knowledge to match what customers are looking for…even if they don’t know that’s what they are seeking.

Success Starts With A Smile

One way to begin molding your employees into the salespeople you desire is starting with a script they can study and be tested on. Something like, "Thank you for calling ABC Limo. This is Bob. It's a beautiful day in (your city). How can I assist you?,” is what Faeth suggests.

“Tom Mazza's old saying stems from the Ritz-Carlton, ‘Professionals serving professionals.’ Too many companies I call around the country answer, ‘Dispatch. Limo service.’ There’s no personal relationship-building right off the bat, no interpersonal skills training. You can control that by creating scripts and training them. They need the guidelines.”

Record and listen to the calls…and not just when an incident occurs. You also have to give your staff direction on the minimum or maximum they can go on a rate, as well as the minimum number of hours. When they don’t know this information, quotes take longer and frustrate clients and affiliates.

“Start with your top 10: Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, to name a few. Get your rates in so it doesn't take eight to ten minutes when somebody calls to get a reservation in that city.”

Always Be Upselling (Or Downselling)

If a client says yes to a sedan, why aren’t you offering them an upgrade to an SUV as a standard practice? Not for free, but the average rate in the U.S. is about a $20 to $25 increase in price. Faeth gave the example of $75 for a sedan to $95 for an SUV.

“Why would you not offer them that every single time? Not a contracted client, but when Bill calls your company to book a sedan, you ask, ‘Mr. Faeth, would you like an SUV upgrade for only an additional $20?’ We don't talk in terms of $75 or $95,” he explained. 

The worst thing that will happen is the client will say, "You know what? I am fine with a sedan. Thank you very much, but I really appreciate the offer."

But what happens when you come across a price driven client?  If they want to book a Mercedes-Benz S-Class but $115 an hour is too expensive for them, do you just give up? “How many of you are downselling me into a MKT or a Chrysler 300? That is where I think having different levels of class are extremely important.”

Climbing The Sales Ladder

Every successful business has a sales ladder. Think about it in terms of Apple. Most people start with the iPhone. Then they might get sold into an Apple watch, iPad, and Mac Book or iMac, or they are getting recurring revenue because of iCloud or Apple Music subscriptions. Do the same with your services. On top of that, simplify.

“If you tell me you have a three-hour minimum, that’s a bad sales approach. If you're going to charge me $300, tell me it's $300 for 90 minutes, not three hours. Get rid of your minimums.”

Events like weddings provide the perfect upselling opportunity. While the bride or wedding planner may say all they need is a limo for 30 minutes, you should suggest some other vehicles or services that may wake them up to the fact there’s more transporting that needs to be done.

Instead of just the car to the wedding venue and then to the reception, offer them a getaway car. From there, ask them if they already have transportation for their bachelor and bachelorette parties. Then ask about any relatives who will need to fly in and get to and from the airport and then to and from their hotel. “This is about identifying those opportunities and then actually asking for that business to create that sales ladder.”

Predict And Counteract

To provide solutions to your clients, you must have a good idea of what they are and aren’t looking for. This means putting in research time. “You’ve got to know your customer, what their habits and objections are — and then you need to document them,” Faeth said.

Everything in your pricing should be tied to two factors: The psychology of your buyer and the value they are going to get, and your profit margin.

Faeth gave the example of when he first started Limo University. “I launched my membership program at the LCT show two years ago and had two price points: The premium membership at $197 and the standard membership at $97. As soon as I revamped that pricing and moved it down to $85, which LCT reported was the average airport transfer rate for a sedan in the U.S., I could leverage that as my marketing and sales component. That if I can't drive one airport transfer for you a month through a live membership, I should be locked up in jail, and be put out of business. That’s when my membership skyrocketed.”

What you shouldn't do is look at what your competitors are charging and then set your rates accordingly just to be a dollar less or more, or the exact same price. You don't know what goes on behind the scenes that plays into their pricing.

Another question brought up by an audience member was how to “convert” a prospect by seeing if they will settle for one type of vehicle if you don’t have the one they are asking for.

“I think it depends on how educated the buyer is. If you create a value proposition as to why I would be better off using a shuttle bus than a limo bus, then I think you have the opportunity to be able to sell it. But if we're just trying to sell on price and we're not creating that value proposition, then I think it will be really difficult. So I could tell you if I want a limo bus to move my guests, it would probably be a pretty easy sell to get me to do a shuttle. But if I am doing a bachelor party, I don't want to be in a shuttle.”

Related Topics: customer service, How To, industry education, industry events, LAB Live, Sales & Marketing, selling techniques, staff training

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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