We’ve all been there. A cracked screen on your iPhone leads you to your service provider’s store. You specifically tell the customer service rep that you only need a repair—and yet, you leave the store with the latest upgrade, an iPad for your kids, and a new phone case. Driving home, you curse both yourself for the expense and the customer service rep for selling you exactly what you didn’t need.

Sound familiar?

That type of upselling—and cross-selling—doesn’t win loyalty or build relationships with customers. Instead of listening to the customer’s needs, the rep pushed profits at the expense of creating a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

But that’s not how you run your business. When done properly, upselling actually improves relationships with your customers, while enhancing your bottom line. So, how do we get rid of the used-car salesman (or mobile phone rep) stigma of upselling? Focus on a win-win philosophy when selling your services to your clients. Here’s how:

First, Listen to Your Customers’ Needs

Your client may want your help designing and installing a relaxing backyard escape that’s low maintenance, pet friendly, child friendly, but also elegant for entertaining. That’s what your client says. But what are they really telling you underneath that directive? If they have kids and pets—they’re busy and time-pressed, and kids and pets don’t necessarily equate to “elegant” outdoor entertaining. This is your chance to ask leading questions: how old are the kids? Will the space need additional security or fencing around a pool? How much time does your client have to maintain the landscape? After all, they mentioned a “low maintenance, relaxing escape”—do they like puttering in the garden, or is this an opportunity for you to handle ongoing maintenance?

Asking questions and really listening to your customers’ needs and wants helps form trusting, mutually beneficial relationships. Take a look at this article from Entrepreneur that elevates listening to an art—and also provides a good list of questions to ask your customers so you understand their expectations from your services. Probing questions help you uncover how to make life easier for your customers by providing additional services, recommending the latest innovations in pest- and disease-resistant plants, or creating a design that achieves the goal of meshing family-friendly with entertaining-worthy. Listening is key--make notes, ask open-ended questions, and consider how your ideas and designs enhance the quality of life for your client.

Create Benefits for Your Customers—and Increased Sales for You

We all know basic business marketing: it’s easier to sell to existing customers than convert new prospects into sales. In fact, it can cost five times as much to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. In his book, Marketing Metrics, author Paul W. Farris states that the likelihood of selling to new prospects is between 5 to 20 percent. But the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. You already have a relationship. Now, how do you deepen that relationship to benefit both you and your customer?

Perhaps you finished a commercial landscape installation. Your customer, delighted with your work, shook your hand, paid the bill, and said she’d be happy to write a glowing review. End of story, right?

Wrong!

Your client is thrilled with your work, and now’s the time to mention that you’d love to continue the relationship, helping your customer keep the property looking picture-perfect. Suggest an ongoing maintenance schedule for mowing and pruning as a first step. Your customer invested in the landscape, so it makes sense that she wants to keep it looking fabulous. While your crew can handle normal maintenance, make sure you stop by personally once a month (or more, if possible) to take a look at the property. You may see opportunities that your crew doesn’t, like an overgrown shrub obscuring a sign or a less-than-healthy tree that needs attention. By investing your time—and an opportunity for more one-on-one scheduled interactions with your client—you’re gaining additional trust that you’re looking out for her best interests.

As your relationship strengthens, you can start suggesting more services. But don’t upsell too soon! Let your relationship evolve so that your client sees that you’re providing value—keeping the property pristine, solving issues before they become problems, and handling details so that she can focus on her business, not the landscape. You’ll become an invaluable, trusted partner.

Now, you can start upselling! As part of your monthly visit, remind your client that your company can provide seasonal containers to brighten the entranceway, remove snow to keep employees safe, or even interiorscape the office, if that’s a service you offer. Talk to your client, find out concerns and needs, and offer a service that meets those needs—make a proposal. (But don’t try to sell all of your services in one big swoop. That might undo all of your relationship building efforts.)

Let’s say that your client agrees to add containers. Once you’ve created a gorgeous display and arranged it to your client’s delight, then mention your subscription service—a benefit that helps your client keep the containers looking their best, with new plantings each season. Or maybe your client mentions her wish to improve employee morale. Consider recommending a design for an outdoor seating area where employees can gather, eat lunch, and relax during a break. (Maybe even add foodscaping elements into the design, like blueberry bushes.)

Upselling products and services to a delighted, happy customer is much easier when you focus on their needs. It’s not just a quick boost to your bottom line that you’re after—you want to provide value that ensures a long, profitable relationship for you both.

Help Your Customers Get More Value from Your Business

Upselling doesn’t only apply to landscape and design professionals. Suppliers can also use the same tactics when upselling customers. Establish a trusted relationship with your customers by using your product knowledge to ensure your customers make the best choices for plants, hardscaping, and even soils and mulches. Once they know to turn to you for the best information and plants, suggest complementary products that benefit your customer’s projects—and also your bottom line.

If your customer plans an installation for a shady residential space, for instance, and wants to incorporate impatiens into the design—but worries about the recent issues with downy mildew—encourage them to try the new disease-resistant cultivar, Beacon impatiens. Or maybe your customer plans a wildlife-friendly installation for a community park. By working with your customer to ensure that your inventory includes native pollinator plants, bird-friendly berry bushes, and trees that benefit wildlife while still looking lovely in a park setting, you’re saving time and resources for your customer by giving him what he needs—in one place. Stay on top of the latest cultivars available and communicate their benefits to your customers, so they appreciate your knowledge and consider you a valuable resource. And, when your customer is delighted with the service and advice you provide, then you can consider recommending additional products that might align with his wildlife park project: bat boxes, bird feeders, or blue bird houses, if appropriate. Or maybe the addition of landscape lighting will help create a safe, aesthetically pleasing ambiance to the park. Focus on your customers’ needs, and only offer additional products that might enhance his project and make him look good to his customer!

Keep Your Customers’ Best Interests in the Forefront of Your Relationship

Upselling provides an outstanding opportunity to increase your business—if done with your customers’ best interests in mind. After all, you want a successful, mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationship with your customer where you both find value in working together. There’s no reason to push a quick sale when you can invest in your customer’s needs--and cultivate a relationship that grows both of your businesses.

At LandscapeHub, we work to make your needs our priority. Whether you require logistics support or financing assistance, we want to make your experience a pleasure.