Sales - Do You Want Fries With That Burger?

The key to accomplishing the task of “adding fries with that burger” is training and, once again, the restaurant industry leads the way.

The fast food industry has shown us the way to increase sales and profits, and we can learn from these marketing masterminds how to increase our add-on sales — how to “supersize” an order. The wholesale and distribution industries have continued to struggle trying to find ways to dramatically increase the amount of goods sold or to expand the lines items per order from their customers. The key to accomplishing the task of “adding fries with that burger” is training and, once again, the restaurant industry leads the way.

The moment you enter a restaurant, you are peppered with options that are designed to up the ticket price of the meal and increase the profit per customer. Restaurants have figured out how to train their employees to ask their customers important questions. The formula for their success is that they require their waitstaff to memorize the specials for the day and they are required to repeat the sale specials to each and every customer. It has been said that repetition is the motherhood of all learning, and that’s how you can apply this method to your business. Take 15 minutes at the start of each day to quiz your staff not only on the valuable products on special, but also on the right way to offer these specials to your customer base. You must constantly drill your staff until it becomes second nature for them to offer additional products or direct the customer to the goods that are currently on special.

Does Your Staff Stay Curious? 

It’s important to train your team to ask customers probing questions that could produce either a quality lead for your outside sales team or lead to an immediate need for additional products that your customer may not even know that you carried. Get your customer to open up about what they are working on, find out who decides where they pick up supplies, or why they favor one product over another. 

The more curious you can train your staff to become, the more profitable your business will be. It does not matter what industry you're in, opportunities to “supersize” an order are always present. If you sell motors, does your customer also need a capacitor or belts? If you sell pumps, does your customer need any flanges or an isolation valve? Your team must be trained so that they automatically ask for these add-on sales. It should be ingrained into your employees’ DNA, just like it is for the folks at your favorite restaurants. 

Sales managers should beware thinking they can casually mention add-on sales once a month and the skill will just automatically materialize in their employees. Instead, have different team members conduct short sales meetings. I used to have my staff review the salesperson who conducted the morning’s training. The peer review was an important component in training a cohesive staff. You want consistency in your team and in the message that they are relaying to your customers. I would recommend meeting two to three times a week for very short sessions where the only thing that is allowed to be discussed is how your salespeople had succeeded in either up-selling or completing an add-on sale opportunity. Success breeds success, so having the team sharing in each other's accomplishments will only strengthen what they have learned. The industry or products you sell doesn't matter: what matters is the process, which should include lots of meetings (repetition) and different team trainers who will share their victories. The more the message is emotionally charged, the more memorable the content will be. The meetings should be short and should only cover this one goal. 

Small Ticket Items, Big Profits

I once mentioned to my staff that if a minimum wage teenager at a fast food restaurant can learn how to sell fries with a burger, we surely could learn how to sell accessories.

The most profitable sales are in the small ticket items that can easily be added on to any order. The “impulse buy” products exist in the wholesale and distribution industries just as they do in supermarkets or restaurants. You just need to identify which products are easy to add on to your customer’s purchase orders, and it’s critical to ask your customer which items they are allowed to purchase without permission from their service manager, dispatcher, or office personal. 

If you really want to get sales to pop, start packaging products together to sell. The more you can make it easy to buy a whole kit of products that go together, the more you will sell. How often have you ordered the “Number Three” meal off the menu of a drive thru? The idea is ingenious in its simplicity, and it’s high time that we follow the lead of billion dollar restaurant chains by “supersizing that order” or “adding fries with that burger.”

Darrell Sterling is a regional manager of a wholesale distribution company in the HVAC segment.

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