Should you ask for the add-on sale?

“It’s a pre-Internet technique that today’s savvy consumers see as manipulative.”
Terry Sisco, chief ExSellerator
Tampa, Fla.

The New “Normal”: The iGeneration—those young adults who’d rather listen to the Black Eyed Peas than eat them—has grown used to purchasing in the neutral shopping environment of the Internet. This is their “normal.” They expect the in-store experience to mirror their online experience. Manipulative selling techniques such as the add-on are not as effective with them.

Wardrobing wonders: a suite of matching 18k gold and diamond jewelry by David Yurman

Fast Food for Thought: The customer’s perception of the add-on sale is that it’s cost-added, not value-added. McDonald’s—which gave us the famous phrase Would you like fries with that?—long ago shifted to the value-meal concept, which includes such standard fare as the Happy Meal. Asking customers if they want fries with their burgers is the equivalent of a fine ­jewelry add-on sale, while the value-meal concept is an example of offering a ­jewelry ­wardrobe in which everything is purchased as a “suite”—or a complete meal.

The Three Laws: There are only three ways to increase business: Increase the number of transactions; increase the average dollar amount of the transactions; or a combination of the two—the ultimate option. In order to grow sales and profits, you need to take the add-on to a new level. To do so, consider the “wardrobe paradigm,” which is the mindset of offering a suite of jewelry that can be worn in combination as opposed to a one-and-done approach. A fine jewelry wardrobe consists of six essentials: something worn on the ear (stud earrings), off the ear (larger-size earrings), on the neck, the wrist, the finger, and the body (such as a pin or an enhancer).

From Bottom to Top: The add-on technique begins with the assumption that after selling one item, you will add items to the sale. This is similar to starting with a low-cost item and attempting to sell up to a more expensive item. Not effective. Wardrobing begins with the assumption that you will sell many pieces and will deduct from the ensemble if budget dictates. The word add-on should be banned from all retail sales lexicons and replaced with wardrobing.

“Don’t stop selling until the customer stops buying.”
Shane Decker, president
Greenwood, Ind.

Time Is on Your Side: A salesperson has already spent 30 to 60 minutes selling themselves, the store, and the product during a presentation. After closing the initial sale, an add-on sale can take as little as 15 seconds with a simple lead-in line such as, “I’ve got to show you the matching piece.”

Jeweler’s Little Helper: Given that most of a salesperson’s time is spent on the initial sale, look at the add-on sale as pure profit that helps pay the store owner’s fixed expenses. If half of the tickets written in a store include an add-on sale that’s half the price of the initial item, the store owner can realize a 25 percent year-to-year sales increase without spending any additional money on advertising and inventory.

Always Bridal, Never a Band: At least 50 percent of engagement customers buy their wedding bands at another store. Asking for this add-on should be automatic given the level of involvement with the engagement sale. If a retailer could reduce that 50 percent figure by half, it would make a huge difference in sales volume. More important, the wedding band is a complement to the engagement ring. When a customer walks out the door with only half the wedding set, they’ll feel incomplete.

A 39 mm Rolex Explorer for him ($5,725), a 31 mm Rolex Datejust for her ($12,900)

Pay It Forward: Add-ons are a huge benefit to store owners who pay their salespeople by salary-plus-commission and commission only. If add-on sales increase by $100,000 to $200,000 in a year, commissions go up. Salespeople are able to reach individual goals, and those with store goals will most likely reach those targets as well. Better-paid employees mean happier employees who are easier to retain.

His and Hers Add-Ons: Among higher-end brands, many manufacturers make an opposite-gender match. For several men’s Rolex models, the brand offers a smaller lookalike model for ladies. High-end customers have disposable income and can afford multiple purchases. Matching jewelry or watches from the same high-end designer adds to the enjoyment that comes with buying and owning fine pieces.

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