Here's a Marketing Comet Principle: People do not like to feel sold.
I hate movie theaters that, when I order the medium popcorn, say something like, "For just 25 cents more you can get 30 more pounds of popcorn." I feel like they're telling me I am an idiot who can't make good choices for ordering the medium popcorn. How about charging a reasonable markup while offering a volume discount and letting the customer choose what they want?
In general people hate feeling like they gave up their willpower to trickery or someone with a stronger ego. This is where natural sales resistance comes from. People value their freedom to choose and, if they feel like you are taking away their freedom, they will resist. Some people have such strong sales resistance that they will often refuse to buy things they need.
Unfortunately we have been trained by people who are lousy at sales and marketing, companies that view their customers as numbers, and businesses that are just plain dishonest. It just doesn't make sense to do business this way. You can bully or trick someone into buying from you once - but you'll lose them as a customer for life. This is an incredibly stupid and shortsighted way to do business.
I have written previously about how Best Buy used fraudulent sales tactics to sign my wife and I up for an ISP we didn't want. They have not only lost me as a customer for life, but I take almost every chance I get to warn people about them. This blog is a good example. The $38 that they tried to steal from me has cost them tens of thousands of dollars in my future business. I will try to scare more people away from them as well.
Many comapnies get up-selling wrong. I ordered some camera equipment online from a dealer (I buy a lot of camera stuff). They sent me an email that they were having problems processing my order and that I needed to call them. This was just a ruse. When I called them they had to "verify my zip code" - which I had already given. Oh yes, while they had me on the phone they had several add on items and more expensive equipment that I should purchase. I was furious and have never bought from that dealer again.
In my opinion, Amazon.com does it right. When you buy from them they have that little unobtrusive box that shows you some other recommended items. Those items are based on what you are buying, and what people bought that was similar to what you are buying. You don't have to refuse a million offers before you can buy - you can go straight to checkout. They do not put the burden on the customer.
Another Marketing Comet Principle: Take as much burden off the customer as you can and making the buying process as pleasant as possible.
This stuff should be common sense, but many companies miss this. They see customers as numbers on a spreadsheet. They have difficulty looking at the long-term results of their decisions. Many need to show instant growth or cost-cutting to appease stockholders. This is where small business can flourish and out-compete the big guys.
As a small business owner, service and sales need to part of your overall marketing strategy. It's not difficult to outperform those who see sales and service as overhead that they can cut to increase profits. Simply give good service, and use good sales tactics.
Look at sales and service as ways to form and better your relationship with your customers. Marketing is everything you do that touches the customer in some way. Marketing is not overhead, but an investment in your profit. Make your customers comfortable and happy to do business with you, and you'll win them for life.
J D Moore - Marketing Comet