Why adding-on may be costing you sales


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Most specialty retailers whose staff is sales-focused emphasize add-ons. When done well, this approach can slightly increase a store’s average sale, but I believe it also reduces how well a staff can maximize sales opportunities.

In some stores, an add-on is an inexpensive item suggested to the customer at checkout. In other stores, it’s a suggested product that complements a product a customer is buying. Both approaches are better than just ringing up the sale without any suggestions for an additional purchase, but the best salespeople go far beyond adding-on. They SELL-ON.

Selling on is the act of continuing to show and recommend products and services the customer may want to purchase. This may sound like semantics, but it’s a completely different mindset and approach.

The most successful retail salespeople never stop the sale. They continue to sell on until the customer says he/she is done. They assume a customer is there to buy multiple products.

Of course the first recommendation will be for a product that naturally complements the item the customer is buying. They’ll show a wallet with a handbag, or an equipment bag with a baseball or softball bat.

Top salespeople don’t stop there. If the customer says “no” to the complementary product, they transition to additional products. If you focus on add-ons the customer’s “no” means that the sale is over and it’s time to check-out. When you focus on selling-on, “no” just means “no” to that product.

Do yourself a favor and reread that last paragraph. I’ll wait.


The salesperson that sells-on then moves to the next product and keeps showing and suggesting products until the customer says he/she is done. The customer might say no two or three times, but there’s also a good chance there will be another one or perhaps two “yes” responses.

Compare that to the add-on approach of one “no” and you’re done.

So let me ask, why limit your sales and not give your customers the opportunity to own even more of your wonderful products? The secret is to quit adding-on and begin selling on.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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