Posted April 24, 2018

Suggestive selling

How to increase add-on sales without being sleazy.

By Francesca Nicasio 

Suggestive selling is one of the most powerful tools any sales associate can have. It increase sales, and when done right, allows customers to discover things they actually need, and helps them get the most out of their renals and purchases. This, in turn, increases customer satisfaction, build trusts and keeps customers coming back.

Reese Evans, content and communications manager for Vend U, offers some tips.

1. Engage in conversations
Evans says that salespersons should get to know each customer before attempting to suggestive-sell. “You wouldn’t be able to effectively suggest something without understanding your customers’ needs. If somebody walks into your center and you instantly start recommending products without knowing if they’re relevant, customers are going to feel annoyed or tune you out.”

“The best way to understand shoppers is to engage them in conversation,” says Evans. Ask questions and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. You’ll get great insights. Evans says that when associates gain insights into the customer’s lifestyle, combined with a thorough understanding of the equipment and merchandise on hand, they can suggest things the customer didn’t even know they were looking for, provided that they can show how it can improve their job.

2. Know your inventory
Associates should be masters of their inventory, says Reese. Having product knowledge allows them to suggest items quickly and effectively. For instance, if a customer says something is out of his or her budget, the suggestive seller should be able to quickly run through the available inventory and suggest something similar, but lower cost.

Knowing inventory inside and out also helps associates drive interest and sales. “Make sure associates have some background on the store’s products,” she adds. “The customer who’s willing to spend more usually cares about the story of a product, they want to be able to relate it back to something and talk about it.”

Additionally, having the necessary product and stock information prevents the suggestive seller from suggesting things not in stock. A good practice is regularly update the POS and inventory management system and keep the data handy so staff always has access to the information they need.Another way to ensure team members are familiar with in-stock products is to set aside time to discuss the inventory with the staff.

3. Treat your customers like a best friend
“Establishing trust is critical to suggestive selling,” says Evans. “If a customer feels an associate is only after the commission, they won’t trust the salesperson’s advicebecome hesitant  about making a purchase.”

To accomplish this, she recommends treating the customer like they’re your best friend. “Be interested in your customers. Know their names, treat them like friends, tell jokes and make them feel comfortable. That way, when you offer advice, they’re going to trust you.”

“This isn’t about being sleazy or manipulative,” Evans adds. “When you start to build relationships with customers, you’ll enjoy the sales process that much more.”

4. Keep up on the industry
Aside from product and inventory knowledge, associates should stay on top of industry news and trends. “Customers want to speak to associates who know what they’re talking about, so make sure they have industry knowledge,” Evans says. Post weekly memos that talk about what’s going on in the rental and equipment industry.  So when a customer walks in, associates can offer timely news.

5. Be subtle when needed
Suggestive sellers don’t always have to be explicit about the products they’re suggesting. Depending on the customer, associates can be subtle about their recommendations.

Evans says a good approach could be to compliment or highlight items that you like (or think the customer will like) in the store. For example, mentioning that another customer was looking for the same product and they also liked the other items that were for rent or sale. “The key is to make them aware of other products without pushing them to buy.”

Bottom line
Learning how to effectively suggestive-sell can do wonders for your bottom line, but you it’s not totally about the sales. Practice suggestive selling to genuinely add value. Do it to help customers find products they want and need, and help educate them on how they can get the most out of their rentals and purchases.

 “Suggestive selling should be about enlightening people on how they can improve their lives and showing them products they can actually use,” Evans concludes. 

Francesca Nicasio writes about trends, tips, and other ways that help retailers increase sales and serve customers better.