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It’s Hard to Upsell Someone Who Isn’t There

We got our new tires today, courtesy of the lovely Micah. He called around to various auto shops and got estimates for a fairly inexpensive but well-rated tire. He was also careful to find out their installation prices.

Once he’d found a pretty good deal, we agreed on it and he went off.

Because he was so prepared, they didn’t even attempt to upsell him on the tires themselves. He knew what he wanted and he had their quote with him.

And then when they were done, they attempted to upsell him for some other car services. His answer? “I’m under strict orders from my wife just to get the tires.”

Is he under strict orders? Not really–because he’s just as much a part of the spending agreement as I am. However he decided to use that excuse because “It’s hard to upsell someone who isn’t there.”

The guy didn’t push him at all. Just winked and said, “Know what that’s like.”

Do you use a scapegoat for avoiding spending? Maybe it’s “That’s not in our budget” or “I promised myself I’d only spend $100 here” or “Trying to watch the calories.” I feel like we use them because we want to have something in common with the upseller–we’re not rejecting them or their product but we have a good reason.

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January 12, 2008 at 8:25 am


Jim January 11, 2008 at 4:02 pm

My wife uses this all the time. Even to her friends when they go “shopping”. One friend got wise to it and now they both look at shirt my wife likes and ask aloud, “How mad would Jim get?”

They know I would not get mad but my wife does say she knows why our kids used to dreed telling me bad stuff. I have a look of disappointment that comes over my face.

boomer January 11, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Some salespeople do not take NO for an answer. But for some reason, when you say you need a spousal or SO approval, or ‘it’s not in my budget’ they can’t argue with that statement. Hey! If it’s not in my budget, I don’t have the money for it, so I can’t buy it. And everyone can identify with an SO getting pissed off because we bought something AND the ramifications we are now going to endure. LOL.

Another good expression I used with my children when they want something: “We’ll see”. This gives them hope, they get off my back and to tell you the truth, we’ll see. Never know, right?

The Bad Penny January 11, 2008 at 5:13 pm

I had a college professor who swore that the way to get rid of a telemarketer was to reply, “I prefer not to, thanks.” You can’t argue against an opinion! I’ve used it with a lot of success. If they question your preference, you just reply once again, “Because I’d prefer not.”

On a side note, this “prefer” verb works when you don’t really care what you eat, or you do. Most people think when you say “I don’t care” that you do but you won’t express your opinion. If you tell someone “I have no preference” they seem more willing to believe you truly don’t care one way or another!

Dad January 11, 2008 at 5:35 pm

I have used this approach a number of times. While is shifts the ‘blame’ in the sales person’s mind to the wife, I know and my wife know that between us there is no such blame. It just gets the sales person off my back.

Another favorite of mine is a case when I turned down a telemarketer’s ‘unbelievably good’ offer. He asked if he might ask why not. I said No. Not No I don’t want it but No he can’t ask! He was floored. This one wasn’t in any of his sales tips. I’m sure that some clever marketeers have an answer for that one. I just say, don’t you understand no. And shortly thereafter say good-bye and hang up if they don’t wrap it up. If they want to leave a number in case I change my mind, I always let them recite it. I never take it down but it didn’t hurt being polite.

Becky January 11, 2008 at 5:48 pm

I also use the “I have to talk to my husband first” excuse. You said it perfectly when you said that they can’t sell something to someone who isn’t there! I also like the “I prefer not to” response. Good idea!

RacerX January 11, 2008 at 6:05 pm

“The other partner isn’t there” is a clasic block that they teach sales guys to overcome with men. Usually an agressive place, timeshare etc., will either go soft with a “Great, let’s call her, she wouldn’t want you to miss out on a deal like this!” or hard sales tactic like “Ouch, it is really unfortunate that she doesn’t trust you to even make the small decisions…”

20% you can embarrass someone into buying. As someone who is a marketer, pull a Nancy Reagan…Just say no.

If they try to come back once, say no, third time say “I believe I was clear, that I am not interested.”

Andrew Stevens January 12, 2008 at 2:20 am

I don’t drive so my wife shopped for a car last time we were in the market. She called me frequently during this process, giving me details on vehicles so I could look up Blue Book values, telling me what she thought about the cars, etc. When it came to negotiating, we did the exact same thing to the salesman that salesmen normally do to customers. You know, the old “let me talk to my manager” routine, so that the manager is the bad guy and the salesman can continue to be your friend. Since I was making the final decision on price, she could make a “this is the best offer we’re going to make you” ultimatum and really mean it, since I had told her to walk away if it was rejected.

Also, my wife has my full permission to use me as her excuse for not loaning money to her deadbeat brother. The fact is she wouldn’t do it even if I weren’t in the picture, but it adds to family harmony if I’m the “bad guy” and I don’t mind taking the rap at all.

I never use her as a similar excuse, but I have an easy time saying no.

CatherineL January 12, 2008 at 9:23 am

Good for him. Mind you – I have quoted people before who say that they can’t make the decision without their husband.

So, I usually ask how much a week they spend on the weekly shopping, then I work out how much that adds up to a year.

Then I compare my quote with that amount (and naturally my quote is a whole heap lower) and ask if they have to call their husband to get permission before paying for the grocery shopping.

Now, I would probably get thrown out of your house and would definitely not get the job.

Llama Money January 15, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Being in a high-pressure type sales business, I can say that most good salespeople are pretty adept at overcoming the spouse objection. The key is sticking to it and not giving in even a little. Any weakness is just a reason to pounce.

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