Think back to the last time you were in a store and one of the employees tried to sell you something. Maybe it was moments after they greeted you as you walked through the door, or perhaps the cashier made a suggestion as they were scanning your items. How did it make you feel? Chances are you tuned it out immediately or cut them off with a quick “no thank you.” Did it make you feel pressured or uncomfortable? Either way, it wasn’t a fun time for you (or the employee in question, most likely). So why do stores continue to do it?
Suggestive selling, a longstanding business practice, is losing its impact due to informed customers and brand loyalty. Direct sales pitches are less effective as people generally know what they want. To ease pressure and highlight desired products, let the items speak for themselves instead of forcefully pushing them onto customers.
Consider how you choose to display items in your store, for example. If you’re like most retailers, products are grouped together by type for the sake of convenience. Customers expect snack chips and soft drinks to be conveniently located on separate shelves due to their complementary nature. However, placing them together can attract attention and boost impulsive sales. This strategy is also useful for testing new brands without committing to hard sells. Pairing a new item with something that compliments it advertises how useful it is without the need for actual advertising. Shoppers will make the connection themselves and feel more inclined to try something new.
There’s always the tried and true method of using coupons, too. Customers love saving money (who doesn’t?) and you can use this to your advantage to suggest new products through discounts and deals. However, manufacturers don’t allow you to choose which products they’ll provide discounts for. Rather than rely on them and serve their needs, you can create coupons unique to your own store. Using smart coupon tools allows you to craft coupons, tailored to your whims. You can choose the discounts, when they’re valid, and what items they apply to. With options for traditional or digital distribution, custom coupons give shoppers a powerful incentive to try new products without feeling pushed into doing so.
The real key to suggestive selling is to let the customer feel like it’s not happening. A subtle hands-off approach like the above will feel more natural than a sales pitch and won’t disrupt the shopping experience. With a lighter hand, you’ll convert the sales you want without intruding on your customers.