To Sell is to Serve

The time had come to buy a new car. Oh what fun! The sales person goes back and forth between their price and my offer – a dance many of us have experienced. I love to watch how the sales person behaves. Do they listen? Do they understand my needs? Or, are they just trying to move a certain model?

It’s the last couple of days of the month – the perfect time to buy as monthly quotas need to be met. The sales person eagerly met in the parking lot as I was looking around.

I told him about my interest and my question whether to buy one that is slightly used (oops I mean pre-owned) or a new car. He seemed genuinely interested in my needs and yes he started to show me exactly what I wanted.

Well, I thought, he must be fairly new since he’s not just focused on his own agenda.

As I look back on that purchase, I reflect on whether the sales person sold me or served me, which I believe is a big difference. I also believe that if you serve the customer, your sale will be more significant in the long run.

Upserving vs Upselling

Daniel Pink mentions in his book To Sell is Human, that upselling is a detestable word, while upserving is the key to success! What’s the difference? Upselling is continually asking the customer to add extras or to buy items that they don’t necessarily need. Upselling is about the need of the sales person to sell more. Upserving is about putting the customer first — meeting their needs and wants.

Ultimately the best approach is to show the customer you are there to serve them. It’s about listening more than talking. It’s about asking pertinent questions that take them deeper into their ultimate needs so you can craft the right solution and maybe even save them money.

So back to my new car purchase (actually an SUV). First – yes I am quite happy with the deal. But, did they upsell me or upserve me? I would have to say it was some of both. Car dealerships are notorious for sitting down with you after the sale to talk about the extra coverage for the 120,000 mile protection. Would you like the dent and ding package for the $599 which guarantees all dents and dings repaired for free including hail damage. Would you like the leather repair package and so forth?

Even though this was an upsell, the sales person made it easy – quickly asking if there might be an interest and if not, they would move on. When it came time for the financing person to explain some of the benefits of the 120,000 mile coverage beyond the standard 60,000, they were succinct and gave an extra incentive which got me to commit and yes I was glad. Why? Because I felt I was receiving value and it made the purchase experience that much better.

Upselling only works if the sales person is really trying to upserve – which is how I felt. They were straight forward and honest leaving me the impression that me and my needs (not theirs) really do matter.

Next time you visit a prospect or customer, keep in mind that your goal is to serve and you will never go wrong.

Good selling!

About the author

Stu Schlackman

Stu has spent over 25 years in sales management, sales and sales training with…

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