Entry By Jason Brick
For most retail shops, and even some restaurants, the holiday season is your anchor in the storm of business success. The better your income in December, the better your entire following year. Suggestive selling -- whether it's impulse buys at the register or package deals to inflate each ticket -- is a key to getting the most money for the least effort. It's worthwhile to remember -- and train your staff to remember -- some dos and don'ts of the suggestive sale technique.
Do create packages of related items, such as a console game and extra controllers or a wine and appetizer pairing with an entree. Pairings that make sense feel more like service than like obvious sales.
Don't suggest more than one option. A yes or no is quick, easy, and usually a yes. Asking for a last-minute decision can alienate.
Do make the offer sound like advice. "Our white wine and tapas appetizers go great with that, and they're on special today" beats "Would you like to add today's special to that entree for just..."
Don't argue, become pushy, or act disappointed if a customer says no. That's a great way to lose that individual's next sales.
Do put signs around your store listing item bundles and suggestive sale offers. This orients customers so they're not surprised by the questions once they get to the register.
Don't offer so many suggestive sale items that it confuses your staff. Keep things simple, and quiz your people on the offerings until they can guide customers to them without hesitation or thought.
Do keep a supply of your most popular suggestive sale items at each cash register. Customers are much less likely to buy if they have to leave the counter to get additional items.
Don't ignore gift cards as an impulse buy. "How about a gift card for your (secretary/officemate/kid's girlfriend)" can feel like a present all of its own to the right harried holiday shopper.
Do remember that this is selling. It works best when you ask with eye contact, a friendly smile and a confident voice. Don't even bother unless the customer is already having a peak shopping experience.
Any holiday veterans out there have a success story to tell? Share your experience in the comments.