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Up–Selling for Success

If you don’t sell an upgrade, rest assured someone else will. Keys to successful upselling include determining all of the options that are appropriate and using feature/benefit selling techniques to carefully explain the options provided.

Have you ever wondered why someone would purchase a plasma-screen television over an LCD version or even a standard picture? Something about the experience of owning such a TV was worth the extra expense required to purchase the item. The value exceeded the cost. Likewise, when you up-sell a parts customer, you are simply raising the value of the higher quality item to exceed the extra expense.

The first thing a parts specialist needs to remember is we are in the business of recreation. Customers purchase RVs and the parts that go on them to have an enjoyable experience. And all you have to do is look around at the homes and vehicles being purchased today to realize that today’s consumers want to be comfortable.

Customers today want their RV to have all the luxury items. In order to ensure satisfied customers, the parts specialist must offer upgrades and options. A qualified parts specialist must:

  1. Determine all options for the customer’s RV that are appropriate.
  2. Develop Good, Better and Best options for the equipment to be offered.
  3. Use feature/benefit selling techniques to carefully explain the options provided.
  4. Allow the customers to choose which option best fulfill their needs.

Three Reasons to UpSell

The three main reasons to present customers with parts options are:

  1. You will create happier customers and happier customers will create return business. Customers are going to buy these accessories anyway, so it might as well be from your business. The parts department that satisfied all of their clients’ needs will reap the financial rewards.
  2. You will help your customers retain a higher resale value on their used unit when they decide to trade up. People who purchase used RVs like all the amenities also, so they are willing to pay more for a vehicle that has all the comforts they are looking for. Your customers will thank you for the added comfort while they are using their RV, and also for the added value when they sell it. This, too, will create return customers.
  3. Safety, safety and safety. Customers are not always aware of all the equipment required to safely operate or tow their particular RV.

In regards to safety, it’s a proven fact that dead customers do not purchase RV parts. Because of this fact, ensuring the safety of all your customers must be a major priority. Consider these three priorities:

  1. Determine which equipment is required to ensure the safe operation of the customer’s chosen RV.
  2. Explain all the options carefully and do not hesitate to impress upon the customer the importance of each piece of equipment and the safety it provides.
  3. Do not let a customer leave the sales facility with the RV unless they have the proper equipment. If nothing else offer to deliver the unit to the customer’s home.

Selling Safety  Or Else

Courts have ruled in the past that RV service facilities can be held liable for allowing a customer to leave with the wrong equipment. The following is a true story of what can happen to your business if you fail to at least offer a customer required safety equipment.

The customer was towing a 26-foot travel trailer with a full-sized Chevrolet van. Before towing the RV, the customer visited the repair center to inquire about the hitch requirement he would need. The owner of the center informed the customer that he needed a weight-distributing hitch, but failed to mention a sway-control device. The customer lost control of the vehicle on a freeway and his wife was killed.

The courts later found that because the owner of the repair center did not even offer the customer a sway-control, he was partially liable and the owner lost his company. Now, this story has no winners, but it does drive home the point that as the experts in the industry it is our obligation to provide all options available, especially when safety is concerned.

Meeting Customer Expectations Through Upgrades

The reason that most RVs today come with air conditioners, microwave, satellite dishes, and generators is the consumers have demanded such options. Just take a look at the vehicles these customers drive into your lot – they all have stereos, air conditioners and power everything. Our society has become accustomed to having the biggest and the best. A parts specialist that offers aluminum tow bars, moving fifth wheel hitches, electric awnings and GPS navigation systems is just giving the customer what they want.

So now we know the reasons for offering a customer the upgraded options, how does a parts specialist go about selling these options without offending the customer?

  1. Determine appropriate options for the particular customer.
  2. Explain the benefits of having the option installed on the customer’s RV.
  3. Know the product: Explain how it works, the installation requirements and what the customer will receive from the option.
  4. Paint a picture of what can happen if the option is not installed and the enjoyment the customer will receive if they choose to make the purchase.

Knowing the Product, Painting a Picture

It is always easier to paint the picture if you really know your products. A parts person should always find ways to use the products they sell. If you do not own an RV, rent one or talk to your manager about using one from the dealership.

It is very difficult to paint a picture of a sunset if you have never seen one. How do you expect to show the value of a product if you do not know how it works? Certain products will be difficult to use, so attending RV shows and conferences will be vital for these parts. A good parts employee must really feel the value and the benefits of a product in order to pass along that feeling to a customer.

My favorite way to paint a picture is to tell the customer a true story that demonstrates the value of a product. If I do not have a story from my personal experience, I will ask customers who have owned the product in the past for their experiences. This method will show the customer that others have enjoyed owning the part and also demonstrate value.

The story I have told many times to customers who are purchasing a fifth wheel trailer and have a short-box truck illustrates this point perfectly. At the time this occurred, I owned a 1999 Dodge V-10, short-box truck and a 2000 31-foot Kit Road Ranger fifth wheel. When I purchased the trailer, I decided that all I needed was a hitch that could be maneuvered by flipping a lever and allowing the hitch to slide back 9 inches. I knew there was a hitch available that moved backwards automatically when the trailer turned, but I did not see the need to spend the extra $1,500 to $2,000.

The hitch I had worked perfectly until I got in a particular situation. I was turning off a four-lane highway in LaGrande, Ore., into a gas station (the V-10 always needed gas). A small car rushed in front of me and took the island I was going to use. I had to back up to turn into a previous island, and because I was sticking out into traffic I was in a rush. I turned too sharply and the back window of my pickup exploded all over my two children in car seats in the back seat. I was going camping for a week, was 200 miles from home and a little frustrated.

Had I had the hitch that adjusted automatically, this entire situation would have been avoided. The two deductibles I had to pay on the truck and the fifth-wheel were more than the difference of the two hitches, not to mention the aggravation I had to endure from my wife. This story helped me become one of the top dealers in the country for this particular hitch, even though we charged $3,000 for the hitch with installation.

By painting a picture of a situation and allowing the customer to ‘feel’ the advantages of the product, you will have more sales and happier customers.

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