Last updateWed, 01 Jul 2020 1pm

The add-on doesn’t have to cost less

People have different budgets for different items. Should a customer indicate that they have a specific budget to spend on one item, doesn't mean that they don't have plenty of money to spend on additional items.

Several years ago, I arrived back from a long road trip in the early afternoon of my son's birthday. He wanted a CD player and I had assured my wife that I would have time to stop at the electronics store to pick out just the right one for him. My son's birthday is in late January, and naturally the plane was late due to snow. I was then in a big hurry to purchase a CD player, stop by the office, and head for home.

Well, at the electronics store I ran into a typical poor salesperson. I walked over to the CD players and asked what the difference was between the model that cost $199 and the model that cost $299. He informed that the difference between the two was about $100. No kidding! After the look on my face, courtesy laugh, and maybe a sarcastic retort, I'm sure he realized that I didn't have the time, and wasn't in the mood for, his jokes. Being as he then didn't like me and I didn't like him, he went to get a salesperson (turn-over) that was "the expert on CD players".

This is where I ran into a real professional. He settled me down, asked me some great questions about my needs and wants, and actually got into a conversation with me about what we were doing for the Super Bowl. We talked about my family, established that I had teenagers, and some other personal information. He found out what was important to my son in a CD player, found out what kind of television I owned, and found out that we were having a Super Bowl party with some old friends that weekend. He sold me a CD player, and proceeded to tell me how impressed my old friends would be watching the Super Bowl on a wide-screen television. Then he told me how my teenage children would tend to stay home more, have their friends over to the house, and watch my new toy. They would play their movies, play their video games, watch sporting events, and enjoy their MTV even more on a wide-screen TV. This television would actually cause them to stay out of any possible "trouble" out there in the real world. Amazing isn't it, that a wide-screen television can actually produce all these miracles! Even more amazing is that I actually bought the story!

The end result of this superb sales presentation was that not only did I purchase the $299 CD player for my son, but I also purchased a new $2900 wide-screen television. The add-on item was ten times as expensive as the main item. This was an outstanding sales presentation that I felt good about and I'm sure he felt good about. I even think that the kids did stay home, and out of trouble, because of this wonder machine. The store also had a special promotion going on; they promised delivery within a few hours. I happened to pull up in the driveway, after stopping by the office, just as the delivery people were unloading the CD player and the wide screen television. You should have seen the look on my wife's face as I got out of the car.

We now need to spend some time on the question; how do you determine what the most appropriate add-on item(s) will be for your customer? The answer lies in the needs assessment step. Based on the conversation that you have during the needs assessment, you should be able to determine what the most appropriate items are, and the additional needs and wants of each and every customer.

They may have told you that they are looking for an anniversary gift only to find out the spouse's birthday is two weeks after the anniversary. It may be the customer is looking for a gift for the wife on Mothers Day, only through asking a few questions you find out that the customer has a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter-in-law, daughter, two sisters and a step-mother that they need to buy for as well. The door can be opened to numerous opportunities to increase the quantity of the sale through an outstanding job in the needs assessment step.

The real expert sales professional will go for add-on items with every customer. I have seen jewelry stores that average about three to five percent of the total sales in add-on dollars jump that number to twenty to twenty-three percent in add-on dollars. Resulting in huge sales and profit increases for both the store and the individual salespeople.

In many instances the only limit to the sale is set by the salesperson themselves. The professional salesperson doesn't limit the amount of the purchase based on what he or she thinks. As long as you have a willing, able, and active customer, you might just as well go for it all. A customer that comes in to have a watch battery changed is a potential customer to buy additional products! The customer that is making a lay-away payment is a terrific prospect for an additional sale. In other words every person that walks into the store is a perfect prospect to buy additional products.

You will find that the amount of preparation time you've taken, and the quality of your needs assessment holds the key to the entire balance of the presentation. Everything from what to demonstrate to what to add-on is discovered during the needs assessment. People will tell you everything that they need and want, both now and for the future. If you have a goal of finding the appropriate add-ons during the needs assessment, you will find that your additional item sales will increase and your customers will be served.

As with closing the sale, one of the reasons that it has been difficult in the past to add-on is simply because you haven't earned the right to add-on. Only after the most appropriate add-on items have been discovered during the needs assessment can you maximize your add-on potential.

The question then becomes; When do you stop adding on and complete the transaction? The answer is: Don't stop until the customer tells you to stop. If you are a veteran of the sales game I'm sure you have heard some sort of horror story about what a terrible job most salespeople do.

A story I heard recently was of a university that sent ten people out shopping in a mall with American Express Gold cards that have no spending limit. Each of the ten people was sent to a different type of store. One went to a shoe store, one to an apparel store, one to a gift store, another to a jewelry store, and so on. They were told to make their initial selection and to not stop buying until the salesperson stopped selling. Of the ten, only one came back with three or more items. Three came back with two items, and the other six people all came back with only one item. In six out of the ten sales presentations there was absolutely no effort made to sell any additional items. This story sure tells me a lot about the professionalism, or lack of professionalism, that is out there.

Quite frankly, the end result of all of these stories is the same. The salesperson almost always stops selling after one or maybe two items have been sold, or there is no attempt made to add-on. Can you imagine the amount of lost sales that occur as a result of salespeople not even asking? Do you keep selling until the customer quits buying or are you just average?

Adding on is the only way to maximize every sales opportunity.

Keep showing (selling) until the customer says stop.
Next month we will address specific techniques on how to sell additional items. However, remember the old saying that if you don't ask you won't get. A professional salesperson doesn't ask themselves, "I wonder if the customer is going to buy?" they ask themselves "I wonder how much the customer is going to buy?"


Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the book "I'm a salesman! Not a PhD." and developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Weekly Jewelry Sales Training Meeting Series (exclusively for jewelry) along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers and his new Train The Sales Trainer Course. In addition he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight" For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax 303-936-9581. You can also visit their website at www.iastraining.com.