Recession Regression – The Suggestive Sales Paradigm Shift
I was getting a haircut.
The barber went on and on about a colleague of his who had been consistently convincing customers not to buy the expensive products at the shop. “Oh, you don’t want to buy that here. Just go up to CVS and you can find the same thing for a lot less money there.” Funny thing was, the employees at the shop are all paid a commission on the products they sell. Nonetheless, employees continually undersold the products - probably the same employees who complain about not making enough money…but that’s another story.
I couldn’t help but think about a situation I recently had at a restaurant when I asked the server for a different side with my entrée. He proceeded to hem and haw followed by an apologetic explanation that my request would result in an additional charge. In my mind I was hearing, please sir, don’t spend more money here. I spent some time in the restaurant industry. Up selling and suggestive selling is basically what brings home the bacon (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Certainly this phenomenon must be isolated to service industry professionals. Not the case. A recent car buying experience had a very similar outcome. I had been inquiring about options, packages and warranties only to have the sales person continually shoot down my interest with repeated, “you don’t need that” and “ that is a really expensive.” Really? A car salesperson is now going to be my budgetary savior? While I appreciate good intentions, the business owner side in me was reeling.
A clear pattern was evolving. Something has changed in our collective sales psyche. The depth and breadth of the financial downturn has affected not only how we manage our day to day financial decisions, but it would seem, how we also communicate on a professional level with customers.
We need to break from our funk and get back to business as usual. I say embrace the up sell! Up selling and suggestive selling is not an evil thing that we must avoid in an effort to save the US economic predicament one customer at a time. We call them value added sales for a reason. Contrary to the recent phenomenon discussed here, people actually like suggestions and recommendations. I like cheese on my burger but sometimes forget to ask. In car navigation with traffic messages…I had no idea that was even available. Tell your customers about options and let them decide.
This message is not exclusive to sales professionals, but for anyone working directly with customers. Make suggestions and recommendations that make sense regardless of whether they might add a little additional cost. Be consultative. It’s good for your employer because you have just made a premium sale and good for the customer because they end up receiving something that they are pleased with. And trust me – what’s good for your employer and good for the customer, is GOOD for you!