Most people believe you should close the sale on the main item and then try to add on. In reality—especially with high-end merchandise—a customer is more likely to reject any additional purchase suggestion once the decision is made on the main item.
For example, when a man decides to purchase an engagement ring, he’s thinking about related issues: how his intended will react, if she’ll like the ring, etc. The last thing he wants to hear is a pitch to sell him more merchandise. He’s not thinking about a wedding-day gift for the bride, grooms’ gifts, or his mother’s birthday. He’s focused on the proposal and what it means.
It’s best to plant a seed for an add-on purchase early. While showing an engagement ring, you might ask: “What did you have in mind as a wedding-day gift for your bride?” He may respond: “I didn’t know I needed to get a wedding-day gift” or “I hadn’t even thought about a wedding-day gift yet.” To which you could reply: “Don’t let me forget later to show you a pearl necklace that would make a great wedding-day gift.”
If a couple comes in looking for an engagement ring, you can say: “That’s terrific, we can take care of not only the engagement ring but also the wedding rings, bride and groom’s gifts, and attendants’ gifts. Let’s go ahead and start with the engagement ring.” Planting the seed doesn’t guarantee additional sales, but it greatly improves the chances. You should at least try to arrange a follow-up visit for the additional items. With this method, the shopper perceives your efforts as a customer service rather than as pushiness.
The same holds true for the holiday season and special events. During a holiday season, ask a customer early in the presentation: “Who else is on your holiday gift list?” For a special event, ask: “Who else is on your Valentine’s Day (or graduation, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.) gift list?” If a customer is buying an anniversary or birthday gift, ask: “What other special events do you have coming up?” You may get a positive response only with every third, fourth, or fifth customer, but that beats not asking at all. Remember, adding on is a customer service—it eliminates the need for customers to go shopping all over town, and many will reward you for your efforts.
For every customer interaction, think of several add-on questions you’re comfortable asking. Opportunities include customers dropping off and picking up repair and cleaning jobs and making layaway payments.