Suggestive Selling: How To Get Store Level Buy-In

We’re not all Oscar-winning actors. Not everyone can read directly from a script and sound natural, your sales associates included. They have to sell the performance to sell your wares – if it’s a performance.

That’s the key to suggestive selling scripts: when they’re easy-to-follow guidelines, they work. When they’re stiff, forced scenes your employees have to act out, they don’t.

What’s worse, bad suggestive selling scripts can make employees seem aggressive, and those pushy sales tactics can end up alienating your customers.

From a retailer’s perspective, suggestive selling is a way to boost purchase amounts and move product, but it can also create better customer experiences. Imagine a shopper comes up to your deli counter and asks for sliced turkey. If your employee suggests a smoked gouda that would go really nicely with it, your customer gets better sandwiches all week and your store makes a little bit more money.

From your employees’ perspectives, suggestive selling can seem awkward and unnatural, and they may feel that they can do a better job of relating to customers without having to follow a script.

And in a way, they may be right – suggestive selling guidelines need to not only leave room for, but to encourage natural human interaction between your staff and your customers.

Here’s how to help your employees use suggestive selling to increase sales in a way that feels natural – and that’s easy for them to remember and repeat.

Suggestive Selling Checklist for Sales Associates

1. Find out WHAT and WHY

When it comes to suggestive selling, why a customer is shopping is just as important as which item they’re looking for.

What do you do when a guest tells you he is looking for towels? A matching set of towels for a guest bathroom doesn’t present the same sales opportunities as bath towels and washcloths for son who’s going to college for the first time – finding out why he needs them is the key.

2. What else will he or she need to make this work?

Batteries or cables? Gift wrap? A candle for a decorative lantern? High-performance socks for new running shoes? The examples are endless.

By asking yourself if your customer needs to use a purchase right away or give it as a gift, you can save them a trip to the store (and increase their purchase amount for this visit). Everybody wins!

3. What would make this easier or better?

Think of the things they don’t necessarily need to make their purchase work, but that make it better or easier to use.

Would the soon-to-be college student benefit from a shower caddy as well as new towels? Perhaps the guest bathroom could use a diffuser to keep things fresh – especially if it matches the towel set?

If a customer is sniffing around the Lego sets during the holidays, try pointing out that all those little pieces are so easy to lose and step on – wouldn’t a toy bin or even simply zip-top gallon bags be helpful to keep sets organized?

And just like that, you’ve made an extra sale and prevented painful foot injuries.

4. What would make this more fun?

When a customer is shopping out of necessity, little splurges are a way to make the experience more enjoyable and satisfying. If it’s a gift they’re looking for, complementary items and pretty gift wrap are fun to add.

When customers are shopping for themselves, you have a lot of opportunities to make fun suggestions in a natural way. If a customer tells you she’s shopping for a new gaming system, try telling her about your favorite new game. If she’s splurging on a new dress, show her the earrings that would look just perfect with it – why not complete the look?

If you’re a retailer…

There are many, many other elements to a successful chain-wide suggestive selling campaign – product knowledge, seasonal displays, and clienteling technologies, to name a few.

But if you aren’t giving your employees what they need to implement suggestive selling at the store level, those investments won’t give you the results you want.

If suggestive selling is new to your staff, don’t start with scripts they have to memorize. Start by giving them a few simple tools, like the questions above, that utilize the skills they already have. It’s the icing on the cake that when it’s done right, suggestive selling makes your customers happier, too.