Suggestive selling can pay off handsomely for retailers in the form of increased per-ticket revenues and sales per transaction. If done right, it can also turn new customers into repeat customers. If not properly executed, however, suggestive selling can have the opposite effect.
Here are some suggestive selling best practices that can help your sales associates get it right:
- Be genuine. One common error sales associates make with suggestive selling is automatically launching into scripted attempts to sell. In addition to being a waste of time because it does little to spur sales, this approach can be a real turnoff. Shoppers know phony, generic suggestive selling monologues when they hear them and are likely simply to tune them out. It’s better to take a more conversational approach, rather than a rehearsed one.
- Watch first, talk later. Trying to sell goods and services that have no interest to the shopper won’t work. Relevant suggestive selling is far more likely to be well-received and to result in additional sales.
Train staff to pay attention to the kinds of items each customer is buying or is interested in. For example, if a shopper picks up a fashionable top and holds it in front of her as she looks in a mirror, she will probably be far more receptive to learning about a complementary pair of pants, a skirt, or an accessory than a BOGO sale on pajamas. If your store sells kitchen appliances and gadgets and a customer is looking at electric mixers, she will be more likely to buy a mixer attachment than to check out a new line dish towels.
- Listen to the customer. Some of the most effective suggestive selling works because a sales associate listened, rather than talked at the customer. A majority of consumers will respond to suggestions about what they might want to buy if those suggestions are made in response to information they shared. For example, suggestive selling can be helpful if a customer is looking for an item to try to solve a problem or if the customer really likes an item they own but needs to find a suitable replacement.
To maximize your revenues, make sure any suggestive selling “presentation” you or your employees make doesn’t just include an explanation of why a particular item might be the customer’s best choice based on that conversation. Also include information about “extras” that could also be of benefit, such as accessories for a new computer or paint brushes suited to a particular job.
To make suggestive selling work for your business, train employees, not only on interacting with customers but also your product line. Each of these best practices requires that sales associates have extensive knowledge of the items your store carries and how they are used — and used together. It will take time and effort to educate your team to be effective, but the time investment will pay off in in the form of loyal customers and a better bottom line.