Last updateThu, 01 Oct 2015 5am


The add-on doesn’t have to cost less

People have different budgets for different items. Should a customer indicate that they have a specific budget to spend on one item, doesn't mean that they don't have plenty of money to spend on additional items.

Several years ago, I arrived back from a long road trip in the early afternoon of my son's birthday. He wanted a CD player and I had assured my wife that I would have time to stop at the electronics store to pick out just the right one for him. My son's birthday is in late January, and naturally the plane was late due to snow. I was then in a big hurry to purchase a CD player, stop by the office, and head for home.

Well, at the electronics store I ran into a typical poor salesperson. I walked over to the CD players and asked what the difference was between the model that cost $199 and the model that cost $299. He informed that the difference between the two was about $100. No kidding! After the look on my face, courtesy laugh, and maybe a sarcastic retort, I'm sure he realized that I didn't have the time, and wasn't in the mood for, his jokes. Being as he then didn't like me and I didn't like him, he went to get a salesperson (turn-over) that was "the expert on CD players".

This is where I ran into a real professional. He settled me down, asked me some great questions about my needs and wants, and actually got into a conversation with me about what we were doing for the Super Bowl. We talked about my family, established that I had teenagers, and some other personal information. He found out what was important to my son in a CD player, found out what kind of television I owned, and found out that we were having a Super Bowl party with some old friends that weekend. He sold me a CD player, and proceeded to tell me how impressed my old friends would be watching the Super Bowl on a wide-screen television. Then he told me how my teenage children would tend to stay home more, have their friends over to the house, and watch my new toy. They would play their movies, play their video games, watch sporting events, and enjoy their MTV even more on a wide-screen TV. This television would actually cause them to stay out of any possible "trouble" out there in the real world. Amazing isn't it, that a wide-screen television can actually produce all these miracles! Even more amazing is that I actually bought the story!

The end result of this superb sales presentation was that not only did I purchase the $299 CD player for my son, but I also purchased a new $2900 wide-screen television. The add-on item was ten times as expensive as the main item. This was an outstanding sales presentation that I felt good about and I'm sure he felt good about. I even think that the kids did stay home, and out of trouble, because of this wonder machine. The store also had a special promotion going on; they promised delivery within a few hours. I happened to pull up in the driveway, after stopping by the office, just as the delivery people were unloading the CD player and the wide screen television. You should have seen the look on my wife's face as I got out of the car.

We now need to spend some time on the question; how do you determine what the most appropriate add-on item(s) will be for your customer? The answer lies in the needs assessment step. Based on the conversation that you have during the needs assessment, you should be able to determine what the most appropriate items are, and the additional needs and wants of each and every customer.

They may have told you that they are looking for an anniversary gift only to find out the spouse's birthday is two weeks after the anniversary. It may be the customer is looking for a gift for the wife on Mothers Day, only through asking a few questions you find out that the customer has a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter-in-law, daughter, two sisters and a step-mother that they need to buy for as well. The door can be opened to numerous opportunities to increase the quantity of the sale through an outstanding job in the needs assessment step.

The real expert sales professional will go for add-on items with every customer. I have seen jewelry stores that average about three to five percent of the total sales in add-on dollars jump that number to twenty to twenty-three percent in add-on dollars. Resulting in huge sales and profit increases for both the store and the individual salespeople.

In many instances the only limit to the sale is set by the salesperson themselves. The professional salesperson doesn't limit the amount of the purchase based on what he or she thinks. As long as you have a willing, able, and active customer, you might just as well go for it all. A customer that comes in to have a watch battery changed is a potential customer to buy additional products! The customer that is making a lay-away payment is a terrific prospect for an additional sale. In other words every person that walks into the store is a perfect prospect to buy additional products.

You will find that the amount of preparation time you've taken, and the quality of your needs assessment holds the key to the entire balance of the presentation. Everything from what to demonstrate to what to add-on is discovered during the needs assessment. People will tell you everything that they need and want, both now and for the future. If you have a goal of finding the appropriate add-ons during the needs assessment, you will find that your additional item sales will increase and your customers will be served.

As with closing the sale, one of the reasons that it has been difficult in the past to add-on is simply because you haven't earned the right to add-on. Only after the most appropriate add-on items have been discovered during the needs assessment can you maximize your add-on potential.

The question then becomes; When do you stop adding on and complete the transaction? The answer is: Don't stop until the customer tells you to stop. If you are a veteran of the sales game I'm sure you have heard some sort of horror story about what a terrible job most salespeople do.

A story I heard recently was of a university that sent ten people out shopping in a mall with American Express Gold cards that have no spending limit. Each of the ten people was sent to a different type of store. One went to a shoe store, one to an apparel store, one to a gift store, another to a jewelry store, and so on. They were told to make their initial selection and to not stop buying until the salesperson stopped selling. Of the ten, only one came back with three or more items. Three came back with two items, and the other six people all came back with only one item. In six out of the ten sales presentations there was absolutely no effort made to sell any additional items. This story sure tells me a lot about the professionalism, or lack of professionalism, that is out there.

Quite frankly, the end result of all of these stories is the same. The salesperson almost always stops selling after one or maybe two items have been sold, or there is no attempt made to add-on. Can you imagine the amount of lost sales that occur as a result of salespeople not even asking? Do you keep selling until the customer quits buying or are you just average?

Adding on is the only way to maximize every sales opportunity.

Keep showing (selling) until the customer says stop.
Next month we will address specific techniques on how to sell additional items. However, remember the old saying that if you don't ask you won't get. A professional salesperson doesn't ask themselves, "I wonder if the customer is going to buy?" they ask themselves "I wonder how much the customer is going to buy?"


Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the book "I'm a salesman! Not a PhD." and developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Weekly Jewelry Sales Training Meeting Series (exclusively for jewelry) along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers and his new Train The Sales Trainer Course. In addition he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight" For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax 303-936-9581. You can also visit their website at www.iastraining.com.

The Low Hanging Fruit – ADDING-ON

This month we are starting a series of articles on the art of adding-on. Adding on, as a sales technique, is without question the most profitable technique of them all. Adding on is the low hanging fruit for most jewelry stores. As previously stated a professional jewelry salesperson must attempt to sell additional items to each and every customer that he/she serves. Too often a salesperson is so happy to simply make a sale, that they run to the register and finish the transaction without ever attempting to sell the customer more. In turn, making the decision for the customer that they are done. There are very few industries where adding on isn't a major consideration. In most industries, adding on is the single most important technique to increase both sales and profits. This is true of the jewelry industry as well.

Closing Techniques

In my last column we reviewed the process of the "Circle of The Sale": selling jewelry based on the reason the customer wants to buy and focusing the presentation on specifically what is important to the customer. If the customer is buying to satisfy an emotional need, then focus on the emotional reason during your sales presentation. If the customer is buying due to the technical aspects of the jewelry, give them a technically based demonstration. When the customer is uncertain or doesn't know what is important in selecting jewelry, then is the time to give the customer help and your expertise.
Remember, don't confuse the customer, but give him/her enough information to complete the sale.

I cannot stress enough how important the NA=A/DA theory is to your success as a salesperson. Needs assessment gets you answers, so demonstrate the answers. Then throughout the demonstration phase describe and show the merchandise to the customer using Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions (FBA's). Again, the agreement question works as a completion of the communication cycle and as a mini-close. The success you will have in customizing your presentation to the specific wants and needs of the customer will greatly enhance the success that is achieved when it comes time to close the sale.

If your customer hasn't yet said those magic words, "I'll take it," it is now time to take drastic measures and Close the Sale. My definition of "Closing" is different than the conventional one. In my opinion, closing the sale is simply asking for the order. Closing can and should be a natural progression of the selling process. A professional salesperson doesn't need to be pushy and aggressive, but highly effective through structuring a presentation tailored to the individual customer. It seems that the conventional definition of Closing is to do anything possible to get the order, no matter what effect it has on the customer. Again, asking for the sale is, or should be, the natural progression of a successful sales presentation.

Developing a tailor-made sales presentation through a great job of preparedness, initial contact, needs assessment, and the demonstration geared specifically to the customer will increase your closing ratio substantially and you will have more customers saying, "I'll take it" than you ever dreamed possible. However, if they haven't said, "I'll take it" by the time you have gotten to this point of your presentation, then you should just need to nudge the customer by asking for the sale. The goal of closing the sale, then, is to make the sale, and (if appropriate) to add-on through the way you ask for the sale.

Asking for the Sale
We have all heard the saying a thousand times, "Ask and you shall receive." A sales professional's job and responsibility is to ask for the sale no matter what type of sales presentation you have given, or how great or terrible a job you think you have done in the selling process. In far too many sales situations the following holds true:
  • 20% - The salesperson attempts to close the sale
  • 20% - Client says, "I'll take it"
  • 60% - No attempt is made to close the sale
I believe that the reason that many salespeople don't ask for the sale comes from a fear of rejection or that they don't feel that they have earned the right to ask the customer to purchase the jewelry. Let me assure you that if you have followed the sales process as described, you have earned the right to ask the customer to buy. As far as fear of rejection, that is unfortunately the nature of the beast in sales, you will face rejection. I have never seen a salesperson that can close one hundred percent of the customers one hundred percent of the time. Get over the fear of rejection; turn the customer over (a topic for a future article) and move on. Yes, you should analyze your sales presentation in order to improve your skills. Look at every customer that doesn't buy from you as a learning opportunity for the next customer. Remember, you have worked hard. Go for the close! You have earned the right to ask for the sale.

More Closing Techniques
All closing techniques have a specific goal in mind; that is to have the customer say "yes." At this point you are asking for the sale or the order. There is no underhanded deception involved - closing techniques are simply different methods of asking questions in order to complete the sale. Whether it is straightforward and direct, or subtle and reserved, the point is you have to ask for the order.

The absolute right time to close is immediately after both trust and value have been established. The magic moment that trust and value have been established can come at any time during the selling process. Review again my last article on "buying signs". Immediately after you have delivered several Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions (based on the needs assessment) or the instant that you hear a buying sign you should ask a closing question. The following seven are examples of closing questions.

The Reflexive Close
The Reflexive Close, simply stated, is a reflex response givenby the salesperson to a question asked by the prospect. This is also one of the most frequently missed closes in all of selling. The customer is asking for an answer to a question. You should respond with an answer that may close the sale. Keep in mind; this technique will sound very pushy and aggressive if both trust and value haven't been established. In addition make sure that you answer the customer's question first, and then reflect it back as a close. It works like a charm after you have established trust and value. A key here again is listening to your prospect.

For example: A customer says, "Can we get this ring sized by Friday?" This is a buying sign! The salesperson should answer the question and then reflect the question back as a close. For example: "I am sure we can have it sized for you by Friday. What time on Friday would you like to pick it up?" Without the closing question you haven't asked for the sale, you have simply answered the customer's question. Don't leave the customer hanging, close the deal.

The Win/Win Close
The Win/Win Close is a technique that has also been named the Alternate Choice Close or the Either or Close. The technique is that you give your customer two choices, both of which result in a completed sale. If you ask a question with only one choice, it is much easier for your prospect to give you a yes or no answer. We already know that if "no" is an option, then it probably isn't the best type of question to ask.

A couple examples of the Win/Win Close are: "Would you like me to gift wrap this for you or would you like to wrap it yourself?" "Would you like to pay for this with cash, check or credit card?"

The Ask-For-It Close
The Ask-For-It Close is relatively self-explanatory. It is a technique where you simply ask for the order. It can be worded in a variety of ways, but the method is very straightforward. For example: "What do you think?" "Let's write it up?" "I know this will be perfect. Let's do it?"

The Order-Form Close
The Order-Form Close is a close that will take a high degree of confidence on your behalf. Be careful, this close can be perceived as very pushy and aggressive if you use it at the wrong time and with the wrong type of customer. The technique is to simply pull out an order form or a financing contract and start writing up the order. They may stop you and ask, "What are you doing?" Your reply "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm writing up your order." The key to this technique is to involve them in the process of writing up the order. The method you use is up to you, but the easiest way is to start with the first line of the order form or contract and ask them a question that will help you start filling in the form.

Most forms start with your prospect's name and address. You can say, "OK, well give me the exact spelling of your name including your middle initial." Their reaction may just be to help you fill out the order. But you will never know if you don't try. In using the order-form close, once they start giving you simple information like their name, address, phone, etc. the sale is done. Again, it is now a matter of working out the minor details.

The Benefit-Review Close
The Benefit-Review Close is one where you summarize the information you learned and used in the NA=A/DA strategy. Reviewing the information already given, followed by a closing question. This is a great close for many selling situations. It may even be the appropriate close for a prospect from whom you haven't been getting very good indicators in the demonstration process. We all know the type of people to which I am referring. You give an enthusiastic, no-holds-barred demo, and all you get back is, "Eh!" There is no excitement or enthusiasm. One of the only things you can then do is to review what they told you in the needs assessment and what you gave them in the demonstration, reworded as a closing question.

For example: "Based on everything that we have discussed, I know that she will love the versatility of the two-tone band, and the durability of the sapphire crystal, not to mention the beauty of the watch itself. She is going to absolutely love this watch. Let's write it up for her?"

The Reduce-to-the-Ridiculous Close
The Reduce-to-the-Ridiculous Close is an old close that has been used forever, and talked about by everyone. The reason that it has lasted so long is that it works extremely well when selling high-priced products and services. While the cost of your products or services may be very high as a total amount, dividing this total over any number of factors, i.e. months, years, units, or locations, makes the expense more affordable. While the customer certainly must find value in the jewelry, it also has to be at a price and/or payment schedule that is reasonable and affordable based on the customer's perception of value. The reduce-to-the-ridiculous close will accomplish that goal.

For example; "I realize that the ring is $___. However when you think about the number of compliments that she will receive, the years of enjoyment that she will have and that this ring will be passed down to generations to come, it is really a small price to pay. Let's treat her to the kind of fine jewelry that she won't want to ever take off?" Another example would be, "I realize the price of the piece is $___ however with our interest free financing you can tailor make a payment plan that is comfortable for you and gives her the piece of jewelry of her dreams. Let's write it up?"

The Penalty Close
The Penalty Close is one that has been used by almost every experienced salesperson at one time or the other. The penalty close is a means of letting your prospect know that if they don't buy now there will be some type of penalty to making the purchase at a later date or that the product or service may not be available to them again. Let me caution you, only use the penalty close when the penalty is absolutely true. No lying or being deceptive. Should the penalty be true then this close can and will be very effective. Should the penalty not be true, then eventually it will come back to haunt you.

For example: "This is a specially made, customized piece of jewelry. There is not another like it anywhere. As a matter of fact, our in-house jeweler won an award for this particular piece. Let me write it up for you?" "Unfortunately, we can only honor the sale price during this special promotion. You really should take advantage of the tremendous savings. Let me write it up for you?"

Close and Wait
A strategy that has been talked about forever is the philosophy of "he who speaks first loses." While I don't believe that anyone loses from a completed sales presentation, I do believe in the concept and in the strategy. Once you deliver the closing question, be quiet! Let the customer have a moment or two to think about their decision. Granted the moment or two may seem like an eternity, but in reality it is usually only a minute or two. However, the minute that you start to talk again, without letting the customer have the time that they need, is when you will be rejected. Again, deliver your closing questions and then wait for the customer's answer. Don't assume anything, you never know what the customer is going to say or what question the customer may ask. You can deal with the issue when you know what the issue is and what was said. If you panic, jump to conclusions and don't wait for the answer you may talk the customer out of the purchase. Further, you never know, the customer might just say "OK." As a matter of fact, more often than you dreamed possible using the strategies and techniques we have discussed over this series of articles, you will be successful in closing sales and being a professional, productive salesperson.

There are many other closes, far too many techniques to mention. Go to the business section of your local bookstore. There you will see row after row and title after title detailing hundreds if not thousands of closing techniques. I can't remember what I did yesterday much less a thousand closing techniques. Further, many of the other techniques are simply various degrees of the preceding closing techniques I have detailed. Then there are other closing techniques I perceive as being extremely pushy and aggressive and I don't recommend their use. I have reduced those thousands of techniques down to seven simple techniques that should serve you very well in a retail environment.

Next month we will discuss adding on additional merchandise as a function of closing the sale. Remember add-ons are profit. It is a salesperson's responsibility to sell additional goods and adding-on is a means of providing your customer with the extraordinary customer service that they deserve.

Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the books "I'M a salesman! Not a PhD." and "Munchies For Salespeople, Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into," he developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Employee Handbook and Policy & Procedures Manual, The Weekly Sales Training Meeting series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers, along with the new Weekly Jewelry Sales Training Series. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight." For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.iastraining.com or fax 303-936-9581.

Closing the sale

In previous articles we have discussed the process called the "Circle of the Sale". To review, you greet the customer with a warm friendly greeting as you would a friend coming into your home. Should the opportunity present itself for a meaningful non-business conversation you take it. Sometimes the customer will resist conversation or appear to be in a hurry, in this case you move on to the needs assessment phase.

The Needs Assessment is the single most important phase of the selling process. Here you will discover, by asking open-ended questions, what the customer wants and why they want it. You will determine the type of presentation to give, either emotional or technical, uncover any potential add-on items the customer may need and continue building trust through having a meaningful non-business conversation based on the emotional aspect of the purchase, (i.e. a wedding, anniversary, celebration, etc).

Then you move on to the demonstration phase where you use the NA=A/DA theory (needs assessment gives you answers/so demonstrate those answers), selling based on why the customer wants to buy. In the demonstration you use Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions and use the various other demonstration techniques discussed in previous articles.

Let's review the Phases and the Goal of each phase:

Initial Contact Phase
Goals - Eliminate Fear; Create A Person-to-Person Relationship; Begin to Establish Trust
Needs Assessment Phase
Goals - Determine What the Customer Wants; Determine Why They Want It; Discover Potential Add-on items; Continue Building Trust
Demonstration Phase
Goals - Establish Value (Perception); Create Desire of Ownership; Get Customer to Say; "I'll Take It"
Closing Phase
Goals - To Close the Sale; Sell Additional Items

If your customer hasn't yet said those magic words "I'll take it", now is the time to take measures to close the sale. What is the definition of "closing"? It seems that the conventional definition of closing is to do anything possible to get the order, even drastic measures, no matter what affect it has on the customer. Many sales trainers put all of the emphasis on the act of closing the sale, with sophisticated closing techniques. My definition is different than the conventional one, in my opinion the step you take to close the sale is to simply ask for the order. Asking for the sale is, or should be, the natural progression of a successful sales presentation.

The PMSA Relationship Selling Program puts the emphasis on the beginning of the selling process leading the customers to close the sale themselves. Through Features, Benefits and Agreement Questions we are actually giving the customer mini-closes throughout the selling process. If the customer is agreeing with the features and benefits we are giving them based on what they told us in the needs assessment, the likelihood of a sale being made is greatly increased.

The art comes in developing the selling process through a great job of preparedness, initial contact, needs assessment, and the demonstration. If they haven't said, "I'll take it" by the time you get to this point of your presentation, then you should just nudge the customer by asking for the sale. The goal of closing the sale, then, is to make the sale, and (if appropriate) to add-on through the way you ask for the sale.

Asking for the sale
We have all heard the saying a thousand times, "If you don't ask you don't get." This is a simple but powerful concept. We have all had situations where we really wanted something and yet felt that the chance of having it was slim at best. Then after hours, days, weeks, or months of contemplating the situation, we finally got the nerve up to ask for what we wanted. To our amazement we actually got it. It was all a matter of asking. Thus the only art in closing the sale comes in your ability to ask for the order, every time, without any reservations.

Dr. Seuss wrote one of the finest books on sales I have ever read. It is entitled "Green Eggs and Ham" and was, and may still be, my oldest son's favorite book. He used to have me read this book to him at least a dozen times a day, and he probably asked me to buy him the book in the first place as many times as Sam-I-Am asked the prospect to try the green eggs and ham.

Sam-I-Am asked for the sale well over a dozen times, and was rejected well over a dozen times. But Sam-I-Am was relentless in his pursuit of the sale. While he didn't use any formal techniques for handling objections, he continued to ask, and in the end, he convinced his customer to at least try the green eggs and ham. To the prospect's delight, he actually liked the green eggs and ham, and thus Sam-I-Am closed the sale. The prospect was happy, Sam-I-Am was happy, and the result was another satisfied customer, just based on asking and getting the prospect to try the product.

The moral of the story is that you have to ask for the sale. There is no second place to asking, and if you don't ask, you won't get it! Your job as a sales professionals is to ask for the sale no matter what type of sales presentation you have given, or how great or terrible a job you think you have done in the selling process. I will be the first one to admit that the asking process is much easier after a terrific sales presentation, nevertheless, you must ask with every customer every time, without any reservations, limits, or second-guessing.

It is a fact that some people simply have a difficult time making a buying decision. Therefore it is up to us to say, "Do you want to buy it?" in one way or another. It has been documented that in 20% of all sales presentations the customer will say, "I'll take it" without being asked. In another 20% of sales presentations the salesperson will ask, "will you buy it"? Yet in 60% of all sales presentations there is absolutely no attempt made to ask for the sale. What a tremendous waste of time and energy in that 60%! It would be safe to assume that if even one of the prospects that weren't asked to buy was to say "yes" it would be worth the effort to ask for the sale. Imagine the affect that asking for every sale with every customer will have on your Closing Ratio Average. If you were to get just one more customer out of every ten to say yes, just by asking, your CRA would increase dramatically.

The professional jewelry salesperson knows the value of asking. We previously discussed the inner drive that a person needs to be successful in sales. Drive and the intention to make the sale are two very powerful forces in selling. If you intend to make every sale with every customer, then the process of asking for the sale will be much easier. The reason that many salespeople find it difficult to ask for the sale is because they lack confidence in their selling skills. Yet, if you have used the techniques that I have detailed up to this point, you will have earned the right to ask for the sale.

You will have:


  • Developed a person-to-person relationship with your client.
  • Eliminated the fear of you as a salesperson.
  • Determined what their needs and wants are through the needs assessment process.
  • Developed trust.
  • Demonstrated the answer to their wants and needs through a presentation using the NA=A/DA theory.
  • Established the value of the jewelry.


You've worked hard! You have now earned the right to ask for the sale. Again, using the "Circle Of The Sale" as salespeople we need to know when is the proper time to close the sale. The proper time to close is anytime during the sales presentation once trust and value have been established. That could happen immediately or it may take some work. As a professional jewelry salesperson we need to recognize buying signs and then close the sale once the customer tells us that he/she is ready to make the purchase.

Buying signs
Your ability to recognize a buying sign is one of the keys to maximizing your closing opportunities. With a buying sign, your customer is telling you, "Hey, if you'd be quiet and listen to me for a minute you'd know I am ready to buy now." In many situations the customer is ready to buy, lets the salesperson know through a buying sign and then gets confused or is talked out of the purchase by the salesperson continuing to sell. The professional will train themselves to listen to any clue or signal that will let them know that the customer is now ready to make that big decision.

Buying signs can be very obvious, very subtle, or in some cases your customers can tell you point-blank that they want to buy. A buying sign can be as obvious as your customer asking, "Do you take checks?" A subtle buying sign could be something as simple as a husband and wife giving each other a nod of the head or a wink of the eye. My broad definition of a buying sign is - Any question that is asked, or statement that is made about the purchase after both trust and value have been established in the customer's mind. It is time to ask for the sale the second that a buying signal has been given. Don't wait until you have given them that final feature and benefit, or told them the entire story as you think it should be given. Ask for the sale now.

It would be very difficult to detail for you every different buying signal or sign that you could receive, as they come in all different forms and at any time. However, some examples are: "Can we get this sized this afternoon?" "This diamond is gorgeous." "What do you think, Honey?" "This ring would look fabulous on her." "These earrings are exactly what we are looking for."

With these words your customer is giving you the clue that now is the time to make your move.

Another point you need to be aware of is that a buying sign could come at any time during the course of your presentation. You could receive a buying sign upon delivering your initial contact line. For example: A customer walks into the store and they say, "My sister got the most incredible necklace here last week." After a statement like this, the best thing to do next is to ask for the sale. "Sister" represents trust and, "the most incredible necklace," represents value. Close the deal by saying, "Would you like one just like it?" Assuming they say "yes," you have made the sale. Then is the time to go back to the other selling phases and worry about the details to complete your job responsibility.

By the way, if you're asking, "What's not complete? I made the sale, why go back to the other selling phases?" The reason is that at this point you still don't know what to add-on. In addition, you haven't developed a person-to-person relationship that will cause your customer to become your personal trade. Remember, it is still your mandate to sell additional items, and it is your goal to develop a relationship that will last into the future. In order to develop repeat customers, personal trade or referrals, and to add-on additional items, you will still need to complete the needs assessment step and ask all the pertinent questions. Don't just take the easy way out by taking the money and running to the cash register. There is still much to be accomplished.

Learn to listen to your customers and to recognize their buying signs and you will become a quota buster. It all seems so simple doesn't it? All you have to do is make contact with your customers as human beings, get them into a conversation, ask them a few questions to determine their needs, demonstrate those needs, and ask for the order. In reality it is probably easier to get a square peg into a round hole. However, with good strategies and techniques in place it can be done. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of preparation and there is no shortcut; you have to do the work in order to make it happen. If you do the work, practice the techniques and strategies to be prepared, it can be done with more success than you have experienced in the past.

Next month's article will detail specific Closing Techniques and in the coming months the process of adding-on as a closing technique will be the focus.


Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the books I'M a salesman! Not a PhD. and Munchies For Salespeople, Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into, he developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Employee Handbook and Policy & Procedures Manual, The Weekly Sales Training Meeting series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers, along with the new Weekly Jewelry Sales Training Series. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight" For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.iastraining.com or fax 303-936-9581.


The Demonstration

This month we will examine the process of showing and demonstrating merchandise. The demonstration phase is your first opportunity to show your customer the features and benefits of the jewelry. During this phase, you will be presenting the jewelry to the customer using the knowledge you gained in the Needs Assessment step. Remember the formula, NA=A/DA, Needs Assessment equals Answers, and then Demonstrate those Answers.

The Needs Assessment: Open-ended questions

In the previous article we started discussing the topic of "The Needs Assessment" and how important asking questions is to the overall success of the selling process. Additionally, we talked about how important the NA=A/DA theory (Needs Assessment equals Answers, so Demonstrate the Answers) to the overall selling process. This month I want to continue the needs assessment process talking about the types of questions that professional salespeople should be asking. The proper questions professional salespeople should be asking are "Open-Ended Questions."

If you have taken any communication courses or journalism courses you would have learned that open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no response. The customer must give more information. As a salesperson you have to get the customer talking and giving you the maximum amount of information possible. Therefore all Needs Assessment questions should be phrased as open-ended questions. It is the extra information that an open-ended question can give you that contains the vital details and information that you will need in order to determine the direction of the balance of your sales presentation.

Open-ended questions begin with one of the following words: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How or Tell Me.
I find that many salespeople have fallen into the bad habit of asking closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions are those that begin with words such as: Do, Have, Will, Are, Did, Could, Would, etc. My advice would be to listen to yourself and your fellow salespeople carefully. I believe that every time that you ask a closed ended question the customer loses a little bit of confidence in you and you sound uncertain in your sales presentation. With the groups that I speak to I like to plant a hypnotic seed in their heads. The seed is that every time you hear yourself or a fellow salesperson say the word "or" or "er" you just asked a closed-ended question. Questions such as:
  • "Did you want round or marquis er princess cut?"
  • "Do you want to get her earrings or a pendant er a bracelet er a watch?
  • "Is this the first place you have shopped or have you been looking?
  • "Do you have a birthday or anniversary or some special occasion coming up?"


As you can see from these bad examples it is very easy to fall into the trap of asking closed-ended questions. My experience tells me that this will be one of the most difficult habits for the majority of salespeople to break. You can also see how the customer can lose a little bit of confidence in the salesperson, and how easy these questions are to answer with a yes or no as opposed to divulging valuable information. With each and every closed-ended question it is very easy to change a word or two and turn them into a high quality open-ended question. The proper way to ask the above questions is:

  • "What shape do you prefer?"
  • "What type of jewelry do you have in mind?"
  • "What has she seen before that she would love to have?"
  • "What is the special occasion?"

Clearly these questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no answer and the customer then must reveal the valuable information that you are looking to attain.
There are four basic types of open-ended questions that we will be exploring during the Needs Assessment step. They are:
  1. Information Questions
  2. Key Questions
  3. Business Questions
  4. Add-On Questions

Information Questions
The first type of open-ended question is the information question. This type of question is designed to get into the customer's shoes so to speak. Information questions are those that you would be asking while completing the Customer Profile Card that we talked about in a previous article. Through the customer profile system you would be asking questions to find out the customer's name, address, phone number, etc. In other words these questions are designed to find out as much personal information about the customer as possible. Other examples are:
  • "What type of work do you do?"
  • "Where do you live/work?"
  • "Tell me about your family?"
  • "How often do you wear your fine jewelry?"
  • "Tell me about your jewelry wardrobe."

Key Questions
A key question (or essential question) is one with more than one reason, benefit, or purpose, for asking. The majority of the following key questions should be asked with every client, as they are that important. I believe that in sales there is a logical sequence of "next best questions." In the majority of situations the key questions will give you the track which you can follow to determine the next best question for the particular selling situation.

A key question is a powerful question that will give you more than one piece of information, or more detailed information, both of which will help you complete the sale successfully. The Seven Key Questions and explanations for why each question is so vitally important for retail jewelry are as follows:
  1. Who recommended our store? This question is valuable in the sense that should the customer have been recommended by someone you know, you now have something in common with the customer and may be able to relate to an individual of which you are both familiar. Further, I would want to thank any customer who is recommending me and/or my store with a thank you note, gift certificate or at least a telephone call. An added benefit is that even if the customer wasn't recommended by anyone, based on the fact that you asked the question it implies that you get a lot of recommendation. Thus the trust factor is increased substantially.
  2. Who are you shopping for? When selling jewelry, it is essential that you know the gender and the relationship of the person that is to receive the merchandise. I know that a person is willing to spend more on their spouse's anniversary or birthday than they would on a graduation present for the daughter of a friend. One should never guess anything about anybody. Don't ask a closed-ended question like "Is this for your wife or girlfriend? You never know what kind of an answer you would receive from a question like that. You certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone for any reason.
  3. What brings you into our store today? As we have previously discussed, this question is the transition question between a non-business conversation and a getting to a business conversation. Let me reiterate this isn't a question that should be asked as a greeting or approach. It is used after you have attempted a non-business conversation or determined that the customer is in a hurry and suffering from "time poverty." This question will also cause many customers to simply tell you exactly what they had in mind.
  4. What have you seen before that he/she would really like? This is a key question because of all the valuable information that it can give you. You may find out that the customer has just started shopping, the competitors that they have been shopping, a price range, a category or a wealth of other valuable, usable information.
  5. What's the special occasion? This question will tell you the emotional reason behind the purchase. Thus allowing you to focus on the emotional reason rather than simply the technical aspects of the purchase. Should you find that it is a twenty-fifth anniversary and the customers are taking a cruise to celebrate you would want to share in the excitement of the trip and the occasion. This single question is the essential question to help build a relationship with the customer rather than a simple buy-sell relationship.
  6. What's important to him/her in selecting a new ___? This question is, with out a doubt, the most important question of the key questions. Yet, it is also the most frequently missed question. This question will give you all the information you need in order to determine the type of demonstration you need to give. You may find that the demonstration should be emotionally based, technically based, or you may find that the client needs your help in determining the quality and/or type of jewelry that fits the specific need. Additionally, you may find out what the client doesn't want, a price range, what other items the customer already has, and any multitude of other valuable information.
  7. When is the special occasion? This question is designed to put urgency to the purchase. Should the customer respond that the occasion is in the next couple of days, weeks, or even months, you would want to tell the customer "that it is coming up quick" or "Terrific, let's get this taken care of so you don't have to worry about it any more." The last thing you would want to do is to tell the customer that they have plenty of time to look around.

Business Questions
Business questions are the questions that you will use to get the information that you need to complete the NA=A/DA step. Again, the goal is to get the prospect to open up with you and tell you exactly what it is they need and want. To further explain, business questions are those that relate directly to the merchandise or jewelry that the customer is about to view through the demonstration. Questions such as:
  • What size diamond did you have in mind?
  • What shape do you think she would prefer?
  • What length has she worn in the past?
  • How often will she being wearing her fine jewelry?

These are just a few examples of business questions, but as you can see all business questions are used to determine valuable information about the product that needs to be demonstrated. Every selling situation is different and requires different questions to determine the appropriate items to show.

Add-On Questions
An Add-On Question is one, or several, that is asked in order to determine what appropriate add-on items you may want to introduce later in the sales presentation. Should you be able to determine a real need or desire for additional goods during the needs assessment step, I assure you the success you have in selling additional goods will be greatly increased, through asking questions early in the sales presentation.

For example, a gentleman is looking for an engagement ring. Somewhere during the needs assessment process you should ask, "What did you have in mind as a wedding day gift for your bride?" To which he may reply, "What, I have to get her a wedding day gift, too?" Then you might say, "Well, it is tradition to give pearls to the bride as a wedding day gift. I would hate for your new bride to be disappointed on her wedding, day wouldn't you?" Then later on in the sales presentation you would come back with, "How about we look at some beautiful pearls that will make a great wedding day gift?" This increases the likelihood of showing and selling the pearls.

Add-on questions are an area where I find many salespeople are weak in their selling skills. This component of the selling process will make a tremendous amount of increased sales for you. My suggestion is to look at every selling situation that you encounter and determine a set of add-on questions for each situation. In future articles we will discuss adding-on in much greater detail. However, I can tell you that most salespeople do not maximize the selling opportunity when it comes to selling additional goods. Having information that the customer has given you in order to determine what, if any, add-ons are appropriate is the key to success in the process of selling additional goods. Remember, adding on is a customer service. In all likelihood the customer is going to buy the additional goods anyway, it might just as well be from you as opposed to your competition.

In conclusion, asking questions is the key to any successful sales presentation. Be curious, find out as much as you can about your customer, and use every opportunity you have to make the conversation personal rather than a simple buyer/seller relationship. Therefore you will be able to establish trust and demonstrate the correct item for every customer that you serve. Remember to make your conversation, or needs assessment, conversational rather than interrogational through responding to the answers to every question. As mentioned in the communication article several months ago, the conversation must be two-sided, not just question/answer - question/answer. Your customer will become very uncomfortable in an interrogational situation. You will make more friends, find out more information and be more successful when carrying on a conversation where you ask a question, the customer answers and then you comment on the answer given. When customers are comfortable they are buying, when the customer is uncomfortable they tend to leave without making a purchase. This particular subject of the needs assessment process takes a tremendous amount of practice. Give the time and effort necessary to make yourself an expert at the needs assessment phase and the dividends will be enormous.

Author, trainer, consultant and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the books "I'M a Salesman! Not a PhD." and "Munchies For Salespeople, Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into," he developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, "The Employee Handbook" and "Policy & Procedures Manual," The Weekly Sales Training Meeting series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers, along with the new Weekly Jewelry Sales Training Series. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Sales Insight." For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.iastraining.com or fax 303-936-9581.
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