Being suggestive to the elderly

A recent post (at the Retail Insights Blog) titled Would you like snail bait with that? included a case study about the benefits of suggestive selling for your customers… and for your profitability.

It concluded with an example of an elderly gentleman in a garden centre who wasn’t given advice about how to help his punnets of seedlings to survive and thrive because the staff member knew he was on a tight budget.

I shared this story with a group of automotive repair and service outlets.

I had been working with these outlets on establishing a system for follow up phone calls once they had checked over a car that was in for service. The outlets which followed the system carefully were able to increase their average sale per customer quite considerably in a genuine way. They did this by phoning customers to alert them to any extra problems they had identified. They then asked if the customer would like the problem dealt with there and then (advising them of the additional fee involved) or whether they would prefer to wait until the next service. Of course, if there was a safety issue involved they would stress to the customer that it should be done at that time.

This was at an evening seminar. Late the following afternoon I received a phone call from one of the most successful of the franchisees who followed this system religiously and was rewarded for doing it with increased sales and happier customers.  His first words to me were “Jurek, it works!”

“What works, John?” I said.

He said that my story about the garden centre incident really hit home to him. Within his catchment area he had a number of elderly customers. While he always followed the system I have explained with his other customers, he tended not to do this with the elderly customers when he knew they were on a pension and fairly hard up.

After my story he decided to take a different approach.  That very morning a vehicle was booked in by an elderly pensioner. On checking the car, John pointed out to this pensioner that there were a couple of additional things that needed done. John explained the additional cost involved and also advised that it could wait until the next service in three or four months time, or alternatively they could do it there and then. The pensioner said “Oh, I’d rather get it all sorted now”.

The lesson: Never pre-judge your customers. Give them the appropriate information and recommendations concerning any additional products or services you feel are beneficial for them. They can then make the decision as to whether to purchase or not. The result of this will be increased sales and happier customers.

Visual courtesy of Shutterstock

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email