Would you buy a new suit without a new shirt and tie? A smartphone without a protective case? How about a bike without a helmet? Probably not! 

Unfortunately, in our decorative plumbing and hardware showroom business too many times the kitchen sink goes out the door without a strainer, soap dispenser, water filter, built-in disposer button and/or colander and cutting board. This leaves your sink feeling lonely and a bit naked! It also short-changes your bottom line, your commission check and your customer.

By approaching bath-and-kitchen add-on sales from the point of genuinely helping the customer and boosting sales, your salespeople are going to be more successful, your clients happier, your boss thrilled and, in many cases, you’ll see repeat business and referrals that will enhance your bottom line.

Tom Duncan, author of “Principles of Advertising and IMC,” defines upselling as “encouraging customers to spend more money than they had originally planned to.” It typically calls for the salesperson to offer the customer related products.

Cross-selling and upselling are two other terms that really mean the same thing as selling add-ons.  I suggest and encourage you to develop scripts to help you in selling add-on opportunities. This one- or two-sentence script would be a word-for-word bridge to help articulate the message you want to convey. 

There is one major rule that must be followed before attempting to use your add-on script — have the original order in-hand. In other words, make sure you have achieved your primary objective first. Close the sale on the kitchen sink and then attempt to sell all the other great items  that will not only fill those holes in the sink, but will make your client eternally happy that you recommended them. 

You might say: “Thank-you very much for this very nice kitchen sink order, Ms. Smith. May I show you a couple other items that not only will complement your sink but will make your job in the kitchen easier and more fun?”

To all showroom managers:  You must train your salespeople so they understand the products they are selling, the features and benefits available to the customers and the fact that add-on sales can dramatically add to their total sales productivity and to the company bottom line. More sales and gross profit for the company should equate to more compensation for the salespeople.


The art of add-on selling

Back to the good-old kitchen sink! Some of the add-on items fall into the $50-$100 range, but a water filtration system and disposer will be in the $150-plus range. Sweet! And you can tell your client that the water filtration system will provide cleaner, healthier drinking water for the entire family. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

The approach to add-on sales can stem from a conversation with the client about their lifestyle. For example, you have just sold the plumbing for a beautiful shower with thermostatically controlled valves, his and her showerheads, a hand-held unit and a couple body sprays. By learning a little about the client’s lifestyle you might determine a steamer in the shower could be a big hit. Yes, this is a bigger hit to the pocketbook, but helping turn the master shower into the client’s very own personal spa could end up being very much appreciated.  

If you’ve wrapped up the sale of the kitchen sink, don’t simply ask, “Would you be interested in buying a new kitchen faucet as well?”  Be proactive and ask, “Would a high-neck, pullout faucet such as this work for you, or would this good-looking one over here be more suitable?” 

If the client has given you a price range up front, be respectful of this and try to stay close to that number. Many of your potential add-on items are fairly inexpensive, but still offer wonderful benefits to the client. Don’t be shy about pointing these out. 

A few clients of mine told me they believe add-on selling can come across as high-pressure or manipulative selling, which can be perceived as trying to take advantage of the client. I disagree! You are not using high-pressure selling. In fact, you are exercising better salesmanship by reminding or pointing out to the client the additional benefits that could be derived in buying that particular add-on. 

Your clients are intelligent people who make buying decisions almost every day. If they do not need or want the item you have offered, they’ll tell you. I personally try not to eat as many fries with my fast-food chicken sandwiches. And when I say “No, thanks,” the cashier doesn’t leap over the counter and knock me down and is not in the least bit offended. The message here is get over the hang-up that you might have about the customer perceiving you as some aggressive bully. You’re not!

In many cases you get to spend a fair amount of time with your client going through the selection process. This tends to inject life, personality and charm into the conversation. Most of your customers will demonstrate a genuine interest in the products they are buying. When this takes place they may be inclined to hear about the add-ons that could benefit them.  Enthusiasm is a catchy thing and can add a whole new element to the selling process.

To re-emphasize, you’re comments on a particular product or service must be absolutely sincere. The majority of your customers will know if you’re trying to scam them. Selling add-on products and upselling is simply rich in potential for all concerned. Here are some quick tips to help increase your add-on sales.

Sell first and tell later:  Get the main order first. Don’t talk the add-ons too early. You might turn the customer off and lose the whole order.

Make a profit: Most add-on items should be sold at a higher gross profit margin. Don’t ever discount the soap dispenser, cutting board, colander or strainer that goes with the kitchen sink. The same thing is true of bathroom accessories. These are wonderful profit-enhancement opportunities! If your computer dictates pricing, please change it so you will be making more GP on all those great add-on products.

Limit and relate: Limit your choice of add-on items to those that clearly relate to the original purchase. 

Familiarity breeds success: The more familiar your customer is with the add-on item, the more likely they will buy it. It’s easy to talk up the benefits of a soap dispenser or water-filtration system that might go with the kitchen sink, but you don’t want to try and sell a whole-house reverse osmosis filter system at this time.

Keep training: This is more a management issue, but a sales consultant’s life will be easier and more productive if they are well-trained in this area. Identify all potential add-on items in your showroom.  Know how they work and what benefits they will offer the client. Plus, learn how to sell them for the aforementioned GP percentage. 

Test with the best and pass onto the rest: This is another management job. Teach your best and most-experienced sales consultants how to sell add-ons and then have them set the example for the other salespeople in your showroom. 

E=MC²: Your add-on selling efforts will be directly dependent on how motivated (M) you are. Add-on selling and upselling takes additional time and effort. If there is no reward and if you are not motivated, chances are your efforts will not reap the benefits it should. Compensation (C) always is a critical factor in selling and perhaps even more so when you are asking for a little extra with each sale. The other “C” stands for control. Whether you are a sales consultant or a manager, the ability to control the direction of add-on selling and upselling activities will determine success. In other words, it will measure your productivity, your performance and your profitability. If one piece of this formula is lacking, you should make changes to correct it.

You have dozens of items that could be classified as add-ons. Identify them, know the benefits they offer your client, put a fair, but rewarding price on the item and boost your profits.

Good selling!