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Monday, August 26, 2013



Okay, you have your principal product line. We will assume that you know it very well. Most salespeople - and, of course, all selling professionals - do have a good grasp of their primary line. However, most salespeople, this time including most selling professionals, leave an awful lot of money on the table when making a sale. They are so focused on just making a sale - any sale - and are so relieved when they successfully close the deal, then that's it. The end. That is a HUGE mistake. It's pretty weak, too, by the way.

While you were selling the $4,000 sofa, how often did you reference the $700 lamp sitting next to it? Most furniture stores, at least mid-line and up, have designers on staff to assemble room groups on your showroom floor. The reason they do is to sell accessories. Accessories, in virtually every business, are simply loaded with gross. They make the difference between just a deal and, dare I say it, killing a fat cow!
You can replace that with "hitting a homerun," if you are squeamish about the cow thing. In retail furniture, the salesperson is typically paid a percentage of the total purchase price, in commission. Often, the percentage is stair-stepped upward, predicated on volume for the month. For example, the base commission may start at 4%, but as one's volume increases over the course of a given month, that percentage will rise to perhaps 7%. You may be asking yourself, "If I am paid on purchase price, why would I care about the gross profit?" You should always care about gross profit because of the great benefit to your employer. Always remember that they are basically keeping you alive! Obviously, too, the addition of a $700 lamp to the ticket, at 7%, pays you another $49.

What are the accessories in your business? In the car business, we're talking step-ups, brush guards, lift kits, over-size wheels, dvd entertainment systems, hood protectors, tow hitches, vent visors and plenty more. Sometimes these products will come from your own parts department; others will come from an outside vendor, like an audio shop, for example. Regardless, if handled correctly, they provide an opportunity to take what might be a very slim deal on a new car and load it up with profit. In the car business, this is a VERY big deal, because you are paid a percentage of the profit on a deal, not the purchase price. Some dealerships' parts departments even pay separate commissions on accessories that come through them. So, let's say you have made a deal on a relatively inexpensive new car. The car had very little profit even at sticker and you had to discount it a bit to close the deal. However, you had the foresight to start making an issue out of things like spoilers and splash guards early in your presentation. Now, the customer wants those things. Here is your opportunity to make some money. But, you must create that opportunity and then execute. It does not happen by itself.

To effectively sell accessories, you must plant the seed very early in the sales process and continue forwarding the idea throughout. You cannot wait until you have closed on the sofa or the pickup, and then go "Oh, by the way would you like a nice oriental rug or perhaps some nerf bars to go with that?" They will decline every time. Move that lamp, rug and ob-jet d'art next to the sofa, immediately. Walk over to the truck with the nerf bars and lift kit already on it and make an issue of it. By the time you close, the customer won't be able to imagine their new piece without the accessories!

So far, we have only touched on the obvious motivation for selling accessories. That would be more money in your pocket. However, there are actually two more subtle - and more important - reasons to make accessory sales part of your routine. First, the profitability of your employer should be of paramount importance to you. If it isn't, you need to do a little self-examination. They have given you a job. They are also counting on you. Doing it for them, is reason enough. Also, think about the benefits to your customer. Remember that sales, in most industries, is a relationship-based thing, not a one-time enterprise. If you do not have a grasp of that, you need to get one, pronto. You should read Integrity Selling: Honesty is the Best Policy, from this series. By making your customer aware of accessories that are appropriate for them and helping them acquire them, you will have increased their enjoyment of and satisfaction with their new purchase. You will have also helped them increase the value of their purchase. When they go to sell it or trade it, they will think of you fondly! You will have a new friend and a customer for the long haul and that is what it is all about.

To make this work, you have to be awfully good at the fundamentals. If you do not train - in both sales skills, theory and technique, and in product knowledge (principal line and accessory offerings) - it is difficult to do this well. You have to be confident enough so that you aren't just worried about selling anything. That's no way to live! Read books on professional selling, read blogs like this one (there are many very good offerings), and go to some sales training seminars. The more confidence you have in the basics, the easier it is to focus on things like accessory sales. It may seem like a secondary issue, but in the "big picture," it really isn't.

If you make accessory sales part of your normal selling process, you will make a lot more money. You will also have happier and more loyal customers. You will also look like a downright stud to your company! Those are all pretty compelling reasons, don't you think?

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by Kevin Connell