Turning around thinking on add-on sales
By Kim Patterson
Working in sales can be lucrative, especially for those who naturally relate well to others. As a salesperson, a paycheck reflects the ability to connect with people and give them helpful advice about product perks and the items that work best for their specific situation. Higher-priced items such as hot tubs can come with heftier commissions, which is why sales staff tend to focus their attention on selling these products.
Add-on products sell at a lower price point than the hot tubs themselves. Commissions are understandably lower, often rendering these products second fiddle in the minds of sales staff.
Turning that thinking around is something Bob Phipps, CEO of the Retail Doctor, a New York–based retail consultancy, believes is of the utmost importance in sales. “You have to see add-ons as giving the customer more ways to get more out of the original purchase,” Phipps explains. “Customers need to understand the benefit of the entire package.”
If a salesperson really gains the customer’s trust, it becomes much easier to recommend add-on products that fit their overall vision. Employers need to teach sales staff to be engaging and speak from the heart rather than from a script. Over delivering and being authentic and available always makes a great impression too. The customer leaves happy and the salesperson can rest easy knowing that they’ve gained a customer who is likely to return to make future purchases.
“Those who hire for the ability to engage a stranger find that the add-ons are not hard,” Phipps says. “The shopper wants to spend more time with the person because they have made that shopper feel they matter. People who feel they matter buy more. The converse is also true; people who feel they don’t matter buy less. It starts with who you let on the sales floor and how you train them.”
Retailers should hire team members who are reliable, trustworthy, and willing to go the extra mile for customer service; these employees are happy to engage the customer on a personal level and are invested in selling the right product for the customer’s needs.
Of course, even the most interactive staff members won’t win over the customers without the product information to back it up. Arming sales people with the tools they need to do the job is a win for everyone; sales staff engage with the customers and make sales, the company gains repeat customers, and the patrons have a good experience and get the products they need.
“The best way to get a sales staff excited about selling ‘add on’ products is to make it super easy to explain the benefits to the customer throughout the buying process,” says Lynne Jensen-Nelson, founder of Conversion-omics Speakers & Consultants in Minneapolis. “Provide them with attractive sound bites of information that can be easily added to the conversation. Don’t leave it until you are standing at the register writing up the sale.”
These sound bites would contain more than just a list of the product’s features. Staff need to convey that it’s about an experience, and that add-ons enhance that “backyard oasis” they’re searching for. Conveying this starts with the employee’s personal connection with the customer. When sales staff get to know the customer, they can explain a product’s benefits in relation to the customer’s specific needs. Training staff on how to engage with customers, giving them the product information they need and conveying the higher financial gains of repeat sales over the one time purchase is a great way to get staff on board with add-on sales. Once they understand that a satisfied customer is a repeat customer, everyone reaps the rewards. The customer’s needs are met; the sales person creates a loyal customer (with the ongoing commission to prove it) and that also creates more stability for the business.