how to upsell in every sale

I was recently walking through the Las Vegas airport on the way to a speech when I realized how thirsty I was after the long flight. I turned into an airport gift shop, grabbed a bottle of water and waited in line. As I waited in line, the cashier kept asking customers if they wanted to buy some “gum, mints or candy.” The three people ahead of me all politely declined. And then it was my turn at the register. Committed to only buying water, I also politely declined, but then began thinking, “Maybe I should get some gum. That would be tasty right now…”

I immediately changed my mind and grabbed a pack of gum.

My total transaction went from $1.59 to $3.06. I then asked her if she was trained to say that, and she replied, “Oh yes. They make sure that we ask that of every customer.”

Interested in this phenomenon, I lingered around the store. Of the 12 people she asked during my time there, 3 people added some gum, mints, candy or water (she also asks if you would like water if you don’t have it in your initial purchase). Roughly, that means that she is single-handedly upselling 25% of the sales.

This may not sound significant, but just extrapolate that over the course of a day. Let’s say that the average upsell is $1.50 and there are 1,000 customers per day. If 25% of those customers are upsold by $1.50 simply by the cashier asking that one simple question, the store increases revenues by an additional $375 per day (in very profitable products, by the way). $375 per day adds up to approximately $137,000 over the course of a year!

This got me thinking, every company needs a “gum, mints or candy” at the point of sale.

What profitable add-on products or services can you offer to customers at the point of sale to increase the average transaction size by even just a little bit?

When you do the math, this 10% increase can often double profitability for many organizations.

So, what will be your “gum, mints or candy?”

Please share your thoughts or advice below.