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How Suggestive Selling Can Boost Business, Plus Tips For Training Your Team

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Suggestive selling is a simple yet effective way to boost profits in your business. It’s a way for your employees to connect with your customers, forge customer loyalty, and make a good name for your business — all while bringing in more revenue for your bottom line.

But the process takes practice, timing, and a host of other variables to get it right.

In this article, the workforce-management experts at Sling define suggestive selling, examine how it can boost business, and give you tips for training your team to incorporate this process into their communication with customers.

What Is Suggestive Selling?

Bartender pouring a beer after using suggestive selling

Suggestive selling goes by many names, including upselling and add-on selling. Regardless of what you call it or hear it called, the practice is pretty much the same.

An employee asks a customer if they would like to include an additional item with their primary purchase or recommends a product that might suit the customer better.

Most often, the additional item is a complementary product to the original purchase and much less expensive — like cables for a new entertainment system — but the inclusion of those extra items serves to increase the revenue coming into your business.

In addition, when an employee performs suggestive selling correctly, the customer feels like your business really cares.

Those are both huge benefits for your business.

The theory behind this technique revolves around the fact that the hard part is out of the way — the customer has already committed to a purchase.

From there, it takes marginal effort to encourage the customer to add a few smaller, but still necessary, items to the original purchase.

Examples Of Suggestive Selling

Inside library with woman at check out desk

Example #1

If a customer at a big box store is in the market for a refrigerator, washer/dryer set, or other large household appliance, a salesperson might suggest adding an extended warranty to the purchase in order to protect the customer’s investment.

Example #2

Restaurants and bars are rife with opportunities for suggestive selling.

Wait staff could suggest a wine pairing based on the dish a customer orders or mention that other customers have enjoyed a certain dessert after their meal.

Even greeters at the front door can practice this kind of selling by encouraging customers who have to wait for a table to spend that time at the bar (where there’s a real possibility that they’ll buy a drink) instead of in the lobby.

Example #3

At a retail clothing store, suggestive selling might take the form of an employee showing a customer a scarf and glove set that complements the new coat the customer has already committed to buying.

It’s worth noting that these are, by no means, the only examples.

Examine the sales process in your business and the way your employees interact with customers and we’re sure you’ll find plenty of opportunities to incorporate upselling into the mix.

How Suggestive Selling Can Boost Business

Barista at coffee shop using suggestive selling

1) Increase Sales

We mentioned this benefit of suggestive selling at the beginning of the article, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s one of the main reasons to incorporate this practice in your business.

Even a small additional item or two, such as HDMI cables to go with a new TV, increases sales and helps your business become more profitable.

2) Improve Customer Experience

Suggestive selling is also a great way to improve customer experience.

When a salesperson helps a customer choose the best items for their needs or informs them of a product or service they didn’t know about, they’ll feel like your business cares about them as a person, not just about getting their money.

3) Create Customer Loyalty

With a great customer experience behind them, your customers will be more inclined to both return to your business themselves and recommend your business to their friends.

That goodwill creates customer loyalty that can’t be found anywhere else.

4) Reduce Theft

Few managers and business owners realize that suggestive selling can actually reduce theft. It does so by encouraging your employees to pay more attention to their customers.

When salespeople practice suggestive selling, they’ll be more likely to engage with customers, thereby reducing the risk of — and the opportunity for — shoplifting.

Tips For Training Your Team In Suggestive Selling

Bartender serving up sangria behind the bar

1) Give Your Team The Knowledge They Need

Suggestive selling depends, in large part, on the knowledge your employees have about your business’s products and services.

For example, if your salespeople don’t know that a new model TV only connects with a special type of cable, your customers are likely to get home only to find that they don’t have what they need.

That’s a bad customer experience.

Give your team an in-depth knowledge of what your business has to offer and they’ll be better prepared to guide your customers to a good buying decision.

2) Teach Them to Build Rapport

When you teach your team to build rapport with customers, those customers will be more receptive to the upselling your employees offer.

Building rapport can be a tricky task, but starting things off in a conversational manner by asking questions such as, “How’s the weather out there?” or “What are you shopping for today?” or “How’s your day going?” goes a long way toward helping customers open up.

3) Make Suggestive Selling Personal

Upselling is more effective if it’s personal.

And relating personal experiences also goes a long way toward building even more rapport with the customer or client.

If your employee can talk about their own experience with the product or service — or the experience of someone they know — customers will be more likely to take their advice for the main purchase and the upsell.

4) Understand That Timing Is Everything

Suggestive selling works best after the customer has had time to become acclimated with what you have to offer — not first thing when they walk in the door.

Train your employees to take some time getting to know what the customer needs and what they might like before trying to work an upsell into the conversation.

5) Abide By The Customer’s Budget

Most customers have a dollar figure in mind when they walk into your establishment.

They may not express it outright or even realize it themselves, but they’ve got a feel for the upper limit over which they don’t want to go.

Where suggestive selling is concerned, encourage your employees to abide by the customer’s budget whenever possible.

Remind your salespeople that once the customer has made the initial purchase within their budget, they may be willing to exceed that initial threshold with smaller products that will improve their user experience.

6) Don’t Force The Issue

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of suggestive selling and improving customer experience and loyalty is learning when not to force the issue.

Your team may be eager to upsell whenever possible, but pushing a customer beyond what they want to do is just a recipe for disaster.

If a salesperson abandons their suggestive selling tactics when the customer isn’t receptive but still concentrates on providing a positive customer experience, said customer will likely return and may be more receptive to an upsell the next time.

Schedule Time For Suggestive Selling Training

Sling app for scheduling suggestive selling training

The foundation of effective employee training — be it suggestive selling or otherwise — is clear and concise scheduling.

Without a comprehensive scheduling process, the training you offer your team will be hit-or-miss and less productive than it could be.

That’s where Sling comes in.

Sling makes it easy to schedule suggestive selling training sessions, shift work, and other complicated events (like grand-opening activities) for one employee or 100 (or more) employees.

You can also manage and control payroll, overtime, and other labor costs with Sling’s intuitive user interface. Sling even offers a built-in time clock for a powerful all-in-one workforce-management and optimization system.

Take your team scheduling and suggestive selling training to the next level with Sling, the most powerful scheduling app on the market.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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