Start Adding-On Early

The entire process of adding-on can be perceived as being very pushy and aggressive—not only in the customer’s mind, but in the salesperson’s as well. Yet adding-on is and should be a customer service. The customers may really need the items you sell. They just may not know they need it yet, or they are probably unaware of the wide range of different items you sell.

When I first became involved in the jewelry industry, I heard a jeweler say that pearls were a traditional gift for the groom to give to the bride. I wondered at that time if my wife was disappointed years ago when she didn’t receive a wedding day gift from me. I had never heard of the tradition and didn’t know it even existed. Whose fault was it that my wife didn’t receive a wedding-day gift? Was it my fault—or the jeweler’s that sold me the engagement and wedding ring? I believe that it was the jeweler’s. People will never ask you for, or buy from you, something that they don’t know exists or that they are supposed to be buying.

If that jeweler had said to me somewhere in the presentation, “Oh, by the way, what did you have in mind as a wedding day gift for your bride?” I would have responded, “What? I didn’t know I was supposed to be getting her a wedding day gift.” At which point the jewelry salesperson could have told me that pearls were a tradition and so on. I don’t know if I would have purchased the pearls at that point, but the likelihood would have been higher.

In every selling scenario there are appropriate add-on questions. When you start asking the questions early, as part of the sales presentation, the customer will perceive it as a customer service. If you make an add-on suggestion after the fact, or after the customer has made a decision, then adding-on will be perceived as pushy and aggressive. Look at every selling scenario and develop some appropriate questions to set up the add-on early in the process.


Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is president of IAS Training. He publishes a free weekly newsletter called Sales Insight. For a free subscription or more information on training, contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703,, fax 303-936-9581, or visit the website at