Friday, October 23, 2015

Master the Art of Add-On Sales

If you head out for dinner with your family, the waiter or waitress will almost always ask you, “Can I get you an appetizer to start?” Then when you finish your meal, they’ll close with, “Would you like to look at our dessert menu?” They’re not just being polite or angling for a bigger tip. They’re doing something that in big business makes for big profit; they’re working for an add-on sale.

An add-on sale is an additional item that is added to the customer’s order in addition to the main purchase. If you buy a barbeque, the man at the hardware store may ask if you need a grill brush, cover, or extra kerosene. If you buy a new car, you’re asked about an upgraded stereo, floor mats, or a luggage rack. If you buy a cruise, you’re asked about trip insurance or shore excursions. All add-on sales!
Waiters, waitresses, travel advisors, and pretty much anyone in retail knows the truth: It’s the first sale that’s the hardest. Once the customer has agreed to buy, it’s much easier to get a “yes” on any subsequent purchase. But there are some guidelines to increase the likelihood of making the add-on sale:

  1. Make it a related product. When someone buys a new car, they’re not asked if they want a bag of charcoal. When someone purchases a new sofa, they’re offered pillows or Scotch-guarding, not a new mattress. The add-on item should be complementary to the original purchase.
  2. Make it smaller. Add-ons are typically less expensive than the original purchase. Research has shown that if someone is buying a large item (like a suit), then the cost of the smaller item (like a dress shirt or tie) seems almost negligible in comparison. If someone has just bought a mascara for $7 and you ask them if they want a skin care set priced at over $100, they’re going to look at you like you’re nuts. But in the reverse order, it makes sense.
  3. Make the offer at the right time. If you offer the add-on item before the customer has decided to purchase the original item, you may be seen as too pushy and they may back out of the deal altogether. Conversely, if you offer an additional item after they’ve already paid for the original item, you’ve probably missed the boat. The sweet spot is when they’ve made up their mind to buy and they haven’t yet signed the credit card slip.
Offering a complementary item to your customers should become second nature to you. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t. But each additional sale you achieve adds to your profit.

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