Add on to your income

The clock hits 4 p.m. on a sleepy Thursday and you’ve yet to ring the register. Your thoughts of unpaid bills are interrupted by the sound of a couple entering the store. The adrenaline starts to flow, you snap to attention, greet the customers with a warm smile and enthusiastically begin the sales process.

An hour later, you can’t suppress an ear-to-ear grin as you watch them leave in proud possession of a sparkling 1-ct. solitaire engagement ring. The day that began with little promise ended with a big sale.

Let’s examine how well you did your job. As you replay the experience in your mind, you proudly remember calling on the many professional techniques that have made you the successful sales associate you are today.

Then it hits you like a freight train.

They left with their engagement solitaire but nothing else. What about her wedding band? What about his wedding band? You were so excited about saving the day that you did only half your job. The chance you overlooked represents one of the most often missed opportunities in our industry: the add-on sale.

So many miss that opportunity because of the excitement of the initial sale and the temptation to start celebrating before the job is done. It also could be some sales associates simply forget the add-on or don’t want to risk rejection. It could be a concern the customer might think you’re being pushy and will leave the store without making the original purchase.

Whatever your reason, change your thinking immediately. The reality is a customer who has already selected an item is the perfect candidate for another purchase. Think about it:

  • The customer is already in the store.

  • By agreeing to make the first purchase, the customer has demonstrated a “buying” frame of mind.

  • A customer who has decided to buy is always in a good mood immediately following that decision.

  • The customer has exhibited a high level of confidence in you.

There are three elements to ensure we take advantage of every add-on opportunity.

The unspoken word

This is the first step toward asking for the add-on without appearing pushy. The key is to display merchandise in a manner suggesting that items go hand-in-hand. In virtually every showcase in your store, you already have pieces that can be presented in such a manner. In showcases containing gold, for example, display matching chains and bracelets together. In addition, using a neck form to present a chain with a charm or religious medal may prompt the customer to consider the additional item.

When a customer chooses a solitaire pendant, it’s a smooth transition to offer the traditional stud earrings that so perfectly complement the pendant. By seeing these displayed together in a gift box or show cased properly, customers often will sell themselves on the idea.

Display enhancers, wraps and wedding bands with solitaires to subtly remind the customer that buying the engagement ring is just the beginning. Gemstone jewelry is often designed to be worn as an ensemble. Group coordinating earrings, pendant, bracelet and ring to start the customer thinking about a “suite” rather than a single piece.

An effective add-on presentation is not limited to items that match each other. Add-on sales often result from a customer’s impulse to buy. Therefore, heart jewelry should appear in virtually every showcase before Valentine’s Day. During June, pearl stud earrings should not be limited to the pearl showcase. Display gifts appropriate for Mother’s Day in several showcases before the holiday. Jewelry boxes make a great add-on-sale. If you carry them, use them as display properties where possible. In addition, present jewelry cleaner and polishing cloths in several areas of the store.

The spoken word

Just as you must ask for a sale rather than wait for one, you also must suggest the add-on. A common thread exists among all associates who successfully sell add-ons. They assume the add-on by removing the item from the showcase and saying something like “Let me show you this pendant; it will look fabulous with the earrings you’ve just chosen.” Or they might say “Now that you’ve decided on this exquisite solitaire, here’s a classic diamond wedding band that will complement it perfectly.” The key is to present the item along with a positive statement rather than ask the customer if he or she would like to see the additional piece.

Maybe you have nothing to offer the customer that coordinates with the initial purchase. That’s no reason to forego an add-on opportunity. Here are some openings you might try as you remove the item from the showcase and present it to the customer:

  • “I love your sapphire bracelet – here’s a gorgeous new ring that would look great with it.”

  • “Your sweater is a beautiful shade of purple; look at how well the rich color of this amethyst pendant matches it.”

  • “You’ve done such a great job of choosing your daughter’s graduation gift, you deserve a reward. What do you think of these new earrings that just arrived?”

  • “Now that you’ve decided on your husband’s Christmas gift, let me show you a new line of moderately priced watches that would make great presents for some of the other people on your list.”

Perhaps the greatest opportunity for add-on sales exists in the bridal category. Remember that couple who walked in at 4 p.m. on a Thursday and chose an engagement ring? Here are just a few opportunities an add-on expert might have considered:

  • A wedding band to complement the engagement ring.

  • A wedding band for the groom.

  • A more modest ring for her to wear when playing sports or traveling.

  • Wedding gifts for him to her and vice versa.

  • Gifts for members of the bridal party.

Providing the newly engaged couple with add-on suggestions will help you to build a lasting relationship with them, the kind of relationship that will keep your customers loyal. The biggest add-on sales will come years after the wedding; recording the couple’s birthdays and anniversary will allow you to contact them when special occasions occur. By turning them into customers for life, you’ve made the most of that original engagement ring sale.

The last word

Granted, not every customer will be prepared to buy an additional piece of jewelry. Even if a customer says no, you still have options. The first is to offer layaway, which guarantees they’ll have the matching item at today’s price when they’re ready to buy it.

The second is to record upcoming gift-giving occasions and inform customers you’ll call to remind them about the availability of the piece. In this scenario, you’ll have an easy sale because the customer has already seen the item and is expecting your call. Not only will they buy a follow-up gift that’s sure to be a hit, they won’t have to think about what to buy for the occasion and where to buy it.

And finally, here’s a tip from some of the most successful add-on sales associates in the industry: don’t stop at the second item. Suggest a third, even a fourth. Customers will let you know when they’ve hit their limit.

Now that you’ve digested the “meat and potatoes” of this story, let’s talk about dessert. When was the last time you were in a restaurant and weren’t shown that infamous tray of enticing desserts? You probably intended to complete your meal with no more than a cup of hot coffee, but you couldn’t resist when those delectable add-on treats were presented.

If fact, you probably didn’t ask for dessert – the server suggested it. The food service industry does the kind of great add-on job that we should emulate. Appetizers, drinks and desserts are all high-margin items for restaurants. As a matter of fact, some companies pay servers commission for selling add-on items, and the most successful waiters and waitresses are those who present them enthusiastically and with confidence.

Take a lesson from the experts. Add on to the original sale, add on to your profits and add on to your success!

Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson are sales trainers and consultants in the fine jewelry retail industry. For information on their custom-designed sales seminars or copyright sales training manual, call (800) 887-8902 or write to them at P.O. Box 921, Pleasanton, CA 94566-0921.