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8 Proven Suggestive Selling Techniques for Retailers

Increasing sales and customer experience are the top priority for any retailer. How can your employees balance pushy tactics with a positive, inclusive environment? Suggestive selling techniques may be the answer.

Businesses often forget that there are other ways to increase their profit margins than just getting customers through the door and making a sale. They should also focus on improving customers’ average purchase value.

Suggestive selling is a powerful and incredibly effective way to get customers into buying more, which benefits both the customer and your business.

The effectiveness of suggestive selling depends on how it is used. In this post, we will take a look at five proven techniques and discuss when they are best applied.


What Is Suggestive Selling?

suggestive selling

When people think of sales, they often equate it to making suggestions and persuasive. Suggestive selling is the intentional practice of upselling or cross-selling.

It is based on the idea that if someone buys a product, they are likely to purchase other products to save money.

For example, if someone is looking to buy a new bike, they are likely going to take the suggestion of a sales associate about purchasing a more comfortable bike seat.

Suggestive selling is not intended to be pushy or annoying. Instead, it’s a way for salespeople to ask your customers about their needs and offer suggestions on what products might meet those needs.

Key takeaways: 

  • Suggestive selling is when a sales associate tries to sell you something else, like an upgrade or additional product.
  • A sales associate’s suggestions for a customer are typically less expensive than the initial purchase. This increases the likelihood that they will add it to their transaction.


Benefits of Suggestive Selling

suggestive selling

Suggestive selling is a powerful tool for getting to know clients. With open-ended questions, sales associates can learn about their interests and needs to suggest relevant products that will fulfill those desires.

Your store can gain a customer’s trust by providing them with information and products that they need. In turn, this will increase your items per transaction, average transaction value, and overall retail sales.

So the more money you make per sale, the better. That means that it will cost less to ship products and package them for companies with an online store.

Your associates must be discreet for suggestive selling to be an effective retail sales technique.

The goal should always be to benefit the customer and have them leave happy rather than push a sale at all costs, which will likely result. Click To Tweet

To help your sales associates be successful, here are some proven suggestive selling techniques that they can use.


8 Suggestive Selling Techniques

You can increase sales by implementing several different suggestive selling techniques. Some are more effective in person, and some work better online, but there is something for everyone.

suggestive selling

1. Showcase complementary products together 

One of the best ways to boost add-on purchases is framing them as a perfect pair. For example, when I go into an Apple store and see headphones next to their phones or tablets, it makes me want both because they seem like two complementary products that will work well together.

If someone is purchasing a dog collar for their new puppy, you could suggest buying an accompanying leash. Your staff should ask about the pup’s size to ensure that its appropriate length, thickness, and durability are denoted.

The sales associate was right when they recommended that I buy a cleaning agent with my new stainless steel pans. The cleaner will keep the expensive pots and pans in excellent condition for as long as possible.

Online retailers can take advantage of suggestive selling by showing customers items that complement the ones they’ve already selected. This is accomplished with handy upselling and cross-selling widgets.

Urban Outfitters offers an “often bought with” section on its website. This way, you can see what other products may go well with the one that caught your eye.

2. Welcome your customers

Research has shown that using a close-ended question like “is this your first time shopping here?” can increase sales by 16%. This simple greeting gives you an idea of what the customer needs and helps to make them feel more comfortable.

Sales associates can ask if it is a customer’s first time at their store and then request additional questions. If they are not, sales associates should be able to see what products or services have been purchased in the past to make more relevant suggestions.

3. Mention special sales and offers 

Upselling can be tricky because you don’t want the customer to think that your sole concern is making a high sale but instead find what they need. The trick is tact.

It becomes much more manageable when you frame upselling as an opportunity rather than a sale that the customer needs to make now or never.

If you are selling kitchenware and a customer is looking to buy knives, mentioning that there’s another knife set for sale at $450, but it usually costs $700, will capture their attention.

The best way to sell something is by framing it as a great opportunity that customers can’t afford to miss out on. Click To Tweet

Online stores can use price differentiation to increase sales by showing the original and discounted prices. Reviews of products that are ignored in this way will be better, which means there is a higher chance they’ll sell.

4. Use customer reviews

E-commerce merchants should use customer reviews to increase sales.

When it comes to reviews, most people are influenced by the opinions of others. In a Zendesk study, 90% said that reading positive online reviews positively influenced their decision to purchase.

Online reviews are both positive and negative, but they’re highly influential regarding the social proof. They come from unbiased sources who can attest to the quality of a product.

Everyone does an excellent job of showing reviews for their products by including height, weight, and size information. This helps customers know what to buy when they are browsing the website.

Before adding reviews to your online store, make sure you sell a quality product. Positive customer feedback will lead to more sales, and the reverse is true for poor outcomes.

5. Create bundles and buy more, save more opportunities 

Retailers can use the principle of behavioral economics to make customers feel better about spending more money. Customers love saving, and they enjoy feeling like they are getting a bargain when buying something on sale.

Retailers can also offer customers the option to purchase a product bundle for a lower price. For example, phone companies might sell their products in bundles that include cases and chargers.

6. Launch a customer loyalty program 

Loyalty programs are a great way to nudge users into spending more. The incentive makes it seem like they’re getting something for nothing, which can be tempting.

Many loyalty programs offer points for every dollar spent, and after accumulating a large number, they can use it to get gift cards or free products.

suggestive selling

Sephora has a VIB program where members can trade their points for rewards like large product samples and beauty consultations.

Static Nails has a loyalty program that allows customers to accumulate points that can be used to buy their products.

When designing a loyalty program, it is essential to ensure that customers can accumulate points in-store and online. If you don’t create your system for omnichannel shopping, then the customer will not be able to use their points on any channel they choose.

7. Use personalized suggestions to your advantage 

Suggestions tailored to the customer’s needs and interests will make them more likely to buy other products or services.

For example, if you own a plant nursery, it is essential to ask questions that will help your customers find the plants they want. If someone says, they are looking for something simple and low maintenance, then suggesting an easy-to-grow succulent might be good. On the other hand, if someone wants flowers or has time to put into gardening all day long every day of their life, suggest higher-priced perennials.

When a customer wants roses but is afraid of the thorns, you can suggest buying a different type of flower or an alternative plant. You could also recommend fertilizer to help their flowers bloom more often.

8. Don’t overwhelm customers with too many suggestions

Don’t overwhelm customers with too many tips; it will cause them to feel like they are in a position of “choice overload.”

Presenting too many options can lead to the customer’s inability to decide on a purchase. It also creates an issue where they feel that if they choose one option, it means not having access to other features in another product.

A study from Columbia University showed that grocery shoppers who gave 24 different jams to sample made fewer purchases than those who had only six options. It seems like people are less likely to buy something when they have too many choices, but if you give them fewer items, their purchase rate is five times higher!

When you reduce the number of products that a customer can choose from, they are more likely to purchase and be satisfied with their choice.

Suggestive Selling Tips for Retailers

When you’re optimizing your online store and training sales associates to use suggestive selling, these are a few best practices that will help:

suggestive selling

  • Respect the customer’s budget: Even if they can afford a higher-priced dress, someone with a $2,000 wedding dress budget will probably not be open or willing to spend more than that. Be mindful of their spending limit.
  • Don’t be too aggressive with your sales pitches. Instead, offer the items as an alternative or enhancement without pressuring clients into buying them. You can mention the features and benefits of products but don’t pressure anyone to purchase anything.
  • Suggestive selling is essential because it makes the salesperson more personable and will make customers want to buy. Suggesting products can be effective, especially if they are related or complementary to what you’re currently purchasing.
  • Staff training is a necessity. Your employees should know your products inside and out, from the features to the benefits of those features, as well as pros and cons compared with other items in your inventory.


Final Thoughts on Suggestive Selling 

Suggestive selling is a great way to increase your store’s sales without needing to spend loads of money on marketing or fancy tools. Click To Tweet

To get your sales associates motivated, you need to know the products and how those different items work together.