Up-Selling is all the rage in sales and we can probably trace it back to McDonald’s.  No, I don’t want want the second apple pie for 10 cents more, because I’ll just eat it and I feel bad enough about eating one. “You don’t need more clients, you just need more sales in the homes of your current clients” and other such mantras are common.

While I’m not opposed to up-selling or cross-selling or what every you want to call it, I’ve found that Down-Selling (a term I’ve coined myself so feel free to use it) is a great way to make a client, get more referrals and sleep better at night.

Down-Selling is walking away
from a sale you don’t recommend

For example, I get people who ask about dental insurance.  My first question back to them is “How often do you see a dentist?”  When the client says that he “hates the dentist, really should go more” and doesn’t go on a regular basis, I tell him not to buy dental insurance.

Part of my rationale is after 25 years in sales, I’ve learned that this client will eventually cancel anyway, and in the process will get angry at me for “wasting” money every month, so I dissuade him and save us both the trouble.  I tell him, that if he isn’t getting two cleanings and an exam annually, he probably won’t be happy with the insurance. The smile on his face always tells me that I made the recommendation that he wanted.

Take $35 and put it into your savings account each month, you’ll eventually need it for some dental care, and you’ll have some set aside.  That makes sense, and he leaves feeling like I wasn’t pushing product on him.

Some of the happiest clients I have started out being Down-Sold.  In a twist, they came to me to buy the same plan that they had, meaning they didn’t like their current agent and wanted a new agent. When I explained that the company wouldn’t allow me to become their agent, but that I’d be happy to service their policy for free, they–being from a kinder generation–objected and insisted that I get paid. They wanted to buy another product so I could become their agent.  In all the cases that come to mind, I declined.  I told the client that the plan they had was the plan I’d have sold them if I had the chance, it was well suited for them and there was no need to change plans.

These people are so happy that I didn’t sell them anything, that they felt obligated to tell all their friends about me so I’d get compensated.

You will never find a person more motivated to refer people to you than someone you refused to up-sell or over-sell.

Sometimes you make the most money from walking away from a sale. Sales is fun and involves a lot of psychology, but this is not a mind game.  Doing what is genuinely in your client’s best interest always pays off; and sometimes, it might mean walking away from a sale.

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