As many of you know, about a hundred years ago, I was the marketing director for all of the Wendy’s restaurants in southern New Jersey. I learned a lot about tested marketing methods. And that included “upselling.” Upselling is a technique for suggesting related items that a customer might want to order along with what they initially requested. And it’s done at the time of purchase.

You know the technique if you’ve ever ordered at a fast-food restaurant. It goes something like this: You order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and a Diet Coke at McDonald’s, and they say, “Would you like to add fries to that and get the Extra Value Meal?” Or they say, “Would you like an apple pie for dessert with that?”

If you’re like me, you can find that technique presumptuous and irritating. I usually know what I want, and that’s why I ordered it that way. But there’s abundant evidence through psychological and sociological research studies that (unlike me!) people often don’t know their own minds very well. Which is why upselling works so well.

And that reason – that people often don’t know exactly what they want in advance, especially in terms of jewelry – is why I recommend upselling other items along with the item the person is intending to purchase.

Think about it this way: People who buy jewelry are typically browsing when they buy. They don’t necessarily know what they want because they aren’t looking for something specific. They have an open attitude. They do have general preferences, such as liking silver better than gold, or amethysts over other colored stones. But aside from those general preferences, when they are looking at jewelry as they browse booths at a show, for example, there may not be rhyme or reason behind why they stop at a specific booth to admire the jewelry.

And if that jewelry is yours, and they pick a piece they like and are ready to buy it, you will be ready to sell them other pieces. As the jewelry maker, you have reasons why you made each piece, and you understand very well why certain pieces look well together. Upselling is simply sharing that knowledge with the buyer. Not pushy. Not manipulative. Just helpful and engaging.

For example, let’s say you made several beaded necklaces, pairs of earrings and bracelets that match in terms of style and materials. Someone picks out the necklace and gets ready to buy it. You might say, “Do you like each piece you wear to be unique? Or do you like when a few pieces coordinate?” If they like when they coordinate, simply show them the other items that you made to go with the one they selected. You can tell them a little about what your inspiration was for creating that line. Or explain a little about the materials so that they are better educated about what they’re buying from you.

When you see upselling as a way of better informing the customer about the options they have in buying from you, it will come more and more easily to you over time. That’s because it will become second nature to engage the prospective buyer more completely in a discussion about your jewelry.

To test it out, try upselling the next time you are selling face-to-face. Remember, you’re informing, not trying to push something onto the prospect. Rehearse in advance what you’d like to say. Then offer related items to the next 20 people you sell to … and let me know what happens!