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 has been a part of business since forever ago, but as customers become more accustomed to certain brands and more connected with information in general, the direct approach has become much less effective than it used to be. Most of us know what we want when we go shopping and aren’t open to a sales pitch for anything else. To take the pressure off but still draw attention to the product you’re hoping to sell, you need to stop pushing items onto your customers and let the product speak for itself.
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. As customers, we’re conditioned to expect that snack chips will all be found on the same shelves and soft drinks in another. Since the two complement each other, displaying them together is a simple way to catch a customer’s attention and make extra sales. It works well for impulsive sales, but if you’re trying out a new brand you could use this strategy to test it out without having to make 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.