I had dinner with clients at a well-known, rather upscale steak chain restaurant. Let’s call it ‘Chuth’s Rris’. My first time at this particular establishment. Our waiter made several recommendations. Oddly enough, each of his recommendations just happened to be the most expensive item in the category. Glass of wine? (not that he was asked, and not that he asked my preferences)… “I recommend such-and-such” (at $20 a glass). He actually capped that one off with “It’s our best, and believe me, I know a lot about wine.” Me too- there’s red, there’s white, and don’t drink it out of plastic cups or add ice.
Steak cut (not that he was asked)… “I recommend this one”… Appetizers, salads, on and on it went, with not-so-subtle nudges towards the priciest item, with no justification other than the nudge itself.
You wouldn’t expect to feel nickel-and-dimed at a place where steak entrees run $35/per, not including the potato. But there you go.
I relate this story today because I think it says something about how (not) to upsell, and it goes back to the primary rule of marketing - “What’s in it for me?”, with ‘me’ being the customer, not the salesman. It’s not enough to tell someone what they should buy. You need them to believe that they want it. In fact, if you’re really good, you can make them believe they chose it. And if you’re great, you would know them so well, you’d be bringing them what they wanted before they knew they wanted it.
Another potential lesson from the story is that you can put together a great marketing plan, and build a great reputation, but you’ve got to deliver on it day after day. And every day, you run the risk that your plan will be undermined where the rubber meets the road by the people who have contact with your customers. Your reputation precedes you, and so they enter your doors expecting to be blown away, and leave feeling a little bit used. Ouch.
I drove 5 hours tonight, so I don’t have any recommendations for avoiding this, just observations.
PS The steak was great, albeit overcooked.