Stop Sabotaging Sales

When retail sales are going well, you’ll rarely hear retailers complain. When sales are less than stellar, though, retailers have a number of excuses: the economy, it’s an election year, the weather is too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry… you get the picture. Could you be part of the problem?

Might you be sabotaging your own sales?

Waiters (good ones, anyway) know their tips are based on not only good service but also the total amount of their ticket sales. The higher the ticket, the better the tip. Retailers need to adopt this mindset. Whether in a shop or online, it’s possible to either add on a sale or not end the sale before your customer is done.

Don’t rush off your customer out the door because you’re worried of losing the sale. Rather than rush your customer to the cash register, let them tell you when they’re ready to checkout and leave.

Add the Add-On Sale

Have a game plan before your customer begins their shopping experience with you. If you’re trying to increase your sales by 5% this month, for example, consider each sale as 95% done. Before your customer gets to the register, what might be a good add-on sale to what they’re considering or have already decided they’re going to buy?

In the scheme of things, 5% for that customer might not be a big amount but it will be incremental for your business. For example, to increase a sale by 5% on a $20 necklace, you only need $1. You could simply offer them a taste of a candy bar that you sell for $4, a birthday card for $5 or why not try something even bigger and mention something such as “we have the matching earrings” or “wait until you see what goes with this”? Those simple phrases don’t have to sound sale-y or gimmicky.

If you’re primarily online or sell online, take a tip from the large e-commerce sites and add a feature that allows you to suggest other items your customer might like based on what they’re adding in their cart. If you sell generate receipts, sometimes you can add ideas at the bottom of the receipt, too (although this does happen after you close out the sale so it’s not as relevant for this article).

What’s Coming Up?

Another way to generate add-on sales or increase a sale by making a new one is by asking each customer if they need a gift for an event coming up. Birthdays happen 365 days a year, and many of us still buy small birthday gifts for friends and family. Customers also buy “just because I’m thinking about you” gifts and host/hostess gifts—and even gifts for a host’s pet!

Master the art of incorporating these simply phrases into your dialogue and you’ll find that it gets easier every single time. Also, they have the potential of adding a significant amount to your bottom line while helping your customer save time if she was also able to get two things (or more) done on the same trip!

Show and Tell.

sabotage-salesIf the person has time and isn’t in a rush, walk around with your customer pointing out new items and letting them hold them. Don’t try to sell them, simply ask to show them and let the dialogue happen naturally like you’re sharing a new tip with a friend.

As they’re holding it, subtly suggest who is buying that item and why. For example, if a couple recently came in and purchased a beautiful bowl for a wedding gift, let your customer know. Or if a woman recently bought a new scarf as a birthday gift for her friend, comment how nice it is to receive a gift from a friend or a “just thinking of you” gift. The idea is to let them know you have other gifts that they can buy right now for upcoming events. If they see it and like it and the price is right, they’ll be more likely to buy it then and there, especially if they know they may not be able to get it when they return because it’ll have sold out.

Bottom line: You can increase your bottom line when we commit to not ending the sales process early. Let your customers tell you when they’re ready to check-out and see how much higher your sales receipts will be at the end of the day.

Megy Karydes is a Chicago-based freelance writer and marketing consultant. Learn more about her and her work at

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