Are you getting enough business? Would you like to increase your both your sales and profits? When I help companies to better partner with their customers, Im frequently asked, “How can we increase our sales?” The answer to this common asked question is for all the people in your organization to move beyond simply doing their assigned job and becoming partners with your customers.


Successful partners care enough to really understand the current and future needs of their partner customers and to help them to get what they knowingly and subconsciously need. Helping customers with additional, or add-on sales, is crucial to customer partnering and also creating in additional profit for their own company.


Number 1: Caring enough about your customer to assist them in filling their needs, wants, and desires.


A simple example of this was a retail store I visited recently. Upon entering the store, Lori greeted me with a smile and sincerity was so present that even though she asked a closed-ended question, I decided to look around and shop. What was the closed-ended question? “Is there anything I can help you find?” While I would usually simply answer with a “No thank you,” her genuine interest in helping me came through loud and clear. Because of her helpful attitude, I walked out with an unexpected purchase of a pair of shorts, and a belt to match.


In a telephone sales situation, I was recently talking to an airlines reservation person. For the city in which I wanted to travel, the ticket was going to be unreasonably expensive. She suggested that I fly into a smaller regional airport in the same city and saved me several hundred dollars on my ticket price. She cared enough to offer me an alternative. When finished ticketing, she asked if there was any other travel with which I needed help. Since I was so pleased with her assistance, I bought a ticket for another trip that I had planed to purchase the following month from a different airline.


Number 2: Ask open-ended questions.


The one area where Lori was weak happened to be in asking open-ended questions. Her sincerity though could only take her so far. At the resister she could of, and should have, said something like, “Let me show you a fabulous shirt to go with those shorts (Handing me the shirt). How does this look?” I would have had to enter a dialog with Lori and most likely added the shirt to my purchase.


First learn your customer’s needs before offering recommendations. Offering recommendations to customers before learning their needs is an action I call prescription without diagnosisretail malpractice. You can only do this by asking open-ended questions and hearing the answer. Remember, open-ended questions do not allow your customer to answer with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and requires some form of discussion enabling you to learn more about your customers wants and desires. Questioning is only valuable if you care enough about your customer to take the time to actively listen to their answers.


Number 3: Listen to your customer.


This skill makes it possible to assist customers by recommending additional purchases that they will need to make. Just be quiet and listen; they will tell you how to be their partner in helping them to buy. Be careful not to bore your customer with your profound product knowledge, at least not at this point.


It is cruel and unusual punishment for a customer to endure hearing a sales clerk tell more about a product than anybody would ever care or need to know. When I was involved in the Snow Skiing industry this knowledge overkill was all too prevalent in the area ski shops, especially in the fall after the hardware sales reps gave clinics for the store employees. If you have you ever assaulted by this type, you know exactly what I mean. I like to call this type of sales clerk features Jockey. He or she will tell, tell, tell about the product, but never take the time to listen to what their customer wants. And, the result is generally no sale!


Listeners generally help their customers to buy and then help some more in selecting the additional add-on items to complement the initial purchase. To achieve success in becoming a sales partner that can identify logical add-on items you must ask open-ended questions and then listen throughout the entire sales process and customers will be thankful.

An important key to quality active listening is the feedback method. This is where you repeat in a paraphrased style what you thought you just heard and ask for confirmation that you heard correctly. The additional information gained will cause you to suggest those extra items your customer will need. Your customer will not feel pressured but will thank you for saving them time because you have built trust and rapport with them.


Number 4: Explain the value your customer will receive by using the additional products or services you recommend.


Know your products and their interdependence, or connection, with other products. Product knowledge is a crucially important part of becoming a sales partner that can successfully make recommendations that their customers will accept. This knowledge must be in both the areas of product features and translating how the relevant features will make your customer’s life better- the all-important benefits.


After the open-ended questions and active listening to answers, the sales partner’s mind must go into high gear. With brain in high gear, the sales partner decides what product(s) will best serve the needs of their customer.You must learn how to translate product features into customer benefits. A great way to do this in your mind is to ask yourself, “What is my customer’s pain?” Next, explain how your product helps to relieve or solves their pain. You can also ask yourself, “How does my product make my customer’s life better?” Then explain the answer to your customer. For example, most womens swimsuits, exercise outfits and bike shorts have Lycra in the fabric. The Lycra is a feature; Lycra doesnt per se make the wearer’s life better. What makes their life more enjoyable is the result; better fit, comfort and stretch recover after numerous washings.


As an expert sales partner, you are only perceived as one to your customer when you can effectively explain the benefits they will receive by owning or using your products. The advantage of positioning yourself as an expert is that your customer will usually buy all the extras you suggest to them as necessary.


The best way to teach your employees, as I mentioned earlier, is by example. Following are some additional strategies to assist your sales team to be Sales Partners in successfully offering add-on solutions for their customers’ challenges:


1. See that your store has plenty of accessory and add-on items in stock. It is your responsibility to reorder frequently and keep your accounts current as not to interrupt the flow of merchandise.


2. Merchandise your store logically and so that your sales team can easily find and access the add-on products you want them to sell.


3. Be an advocate of product knowledge. Urge your suppliers to partner with you in setting up regular product knowledge clinics for your team. Challenge your reps giving the clinics to offer more than just features but also the translation on how their product’s features deliver value and results. By doing so, you will be solving the pain and challenges of your customers.


4. Create checklists for your salespeople and post them close to the register. As an example: List on a single page every possible item a beach sunbather or snow skier would need for a day in the sun. Additionally, these checklists should be available to your customers for their own use, creating a value-added service.


5. Create a climate of caring in your store. Since the culture of your business starts with you, you must be the driving force behind the paradigm of caring. Encourage your Sales Partners to show their caring to every customer and then reward the behavior that you want repeated. YES, REWARD THE BEHAVIOR YOU WANT REPEATED! Want more add-on sales? Reward your team individually and collectively when they sell add-ons.Care about your customers, ask open-ended questions, actively listen to their answers then combine that knowledge with your unsurpassed product knowledge to solve their problems. It is also incumbent upon you to teach these same skills to your staff. Then helping your customers to have all that they desire and want will be a snap. It is your responsibility to assist your customers in saving time and they’ll save time when you help them to buy add-ons. When you choose to assist them in saving time, they will show their appreciation by becoming loyal repeat customers.


By : E. R. Rigsbee