Any successful salesman or saleswoman knows that giving the customer only what they ask for isn't the best way to increase sales. In order to maximize profits, salesmen and saleswomen need to know how to sell the customer items or services that they may not have necessarily wanted, but will decide to purchase them anyway after they have been suggested.
One example of this can be found in movie theatres all across the country—order a medium popcorn or medium drink, and the counterperson will ask you if you'd like a large for just a quarter more. It's just a simple suggestion, no strong-arm technique here. It should be easy to say no if you don't really want a large popcorn, right? Yet a quarter doesn't seem like much, and in fact, it almost appears as if you are getting a bargain, because the large is so much larger than the medium. Most people opt for the large, because parting with another quarter isn't really that big of an expenditure. Yet movie theatre managers count on that extra quarter, because multiplied by thousands of transactions per day, it adds up to a significant increase in sales revenue.
The same suggestive selling techniques can be found at McDonald's, in the form of Supersize options, and many other fast food establishments often ask patrons if they'd like to try the latest specialty item. The suggestion is key, and it leads to millions of dollars in sales for companies both large and small.
Suggestive Selling is more than just asking everyone the same question
While the above techniques may work for movie theatres and fast food establishments, it requires a little more training and finesse in other industries. This is especially true in establishments where customers are especially focused on price. Spending an extra 25 cents for a large popcorn isn't going to break a consumer's wallet, but they might be more hard-pressed to part with another $50 for a new pair of jeans when they don't really need them, or the clothing shop down the road is offering other styles of jeans for $20 less.
Offer value and benefits
When a customer is focused on price, they want to know what kind of value they get for the money they spend. It's easy to see the difference in value between a medium and large popcorn, but also not so easy to see the value and benefits in a particular piece of software, a marketing service, or an expensive winter coat. But if the customer knows that a particular winter coat is more likely to keep them warmer in colder weather, as well as be more durable than a less expensive alternative, they might be more inclined to spend the extra money.
And great suggestive sellers don't have to stop with just a coat. You might then also suggest gloves, a scarf, and a hat. But it is important not to be too forceful. If you can maintain the understanding that's it's more about the customer and less about making sales, you'll find that sales actually increase. That's because customers will believe that you are actually trying to help them—they will recognize your sincerity, and enjoy a comfortable, rewarding shopping experience. (This can also lead to future sales from the same customers).
Happy customers are more open to suggestions
As you may be discovering, the customer experience is very important. Consumers today want value, not just from the items they purchase, but also from the shopping experience overall. Customers that are kept waiting for services are not going to be happy, and may even choose to shop somewhere else. To help remedy this, you might consider a waiting list management software. These intuitive apps can be used to alert customers when someone is ready to provide them with service, allowing them to freely browse around the store or another area nearby, instead of standing around grumpily waiting for a salesperson that is busy with others.
Learn to tailor your suggestions
In keeping with the advice given above, realize that every customer is different, and has different needs. Suggesting one thing for one customer may not necessarily apply to another customer. And don't just suggest any old item service just to make a sale. It is important to keep suggestions relevant to one another, such as the coat, scarf, gloves and hat ensemble. You wouldn't suggest a cellular phone case along with those items, because it just doesn't bear any relevance.
How well are your suggestive selling techniques faring. Do you have your own ideas and input to offer on the subject? Feel free to share them here!
Image Credit: Flickr/Jen Gallardo