“I would like to buy some socks, please” my friend said. He was just inside the entrance to a V E R Y nice men’s clothing store, responding to a sales person’s gently formal yet genuinely warm greeting.
“Ah, of course,” responded the sales person, authoritatively. “Socks. Follow me.”
As they reached the socks, my friend picked up a package of black socks and squinted (nothing subtle here!) at the price.
“Where are you going?” asked the sales person.
“The Bahamas,” said my still squinting friend. “Wedding.”
About a half-hour later, my friend left the store with a shirt, a gorgeous silk tie, cologne, a blue bathing suit, and…. socks which (he later reflected) he chose on the basis of color, not price.
“It was amazing,” he said, shaking his head in delight, afterwards. “It was convenient. He listened to me. I have a relationship. I know his name. I’ll go back there.”
Huh! All this on the basis of “Where are you going?”…. followed by conversation that included, “Oh, how wonderful,” and questions about who will be there, what will you be doing during the day, oh, that’s wonderful, you’ll need something pretty dressy for that, what shoes will you be wearing, and where will you be having the rehearsal dinner, oh, the view from there is spectacular at sunset and, you know, they have a very nice beach there, and so on.
I don’t know whether the sales person has ever been to the Bahamas, and he sounded like he knew every step of the way.
(Shaking my head in wonder) A shirt, a tie, cologne, a bathing suit, and socks chosen for their color. My friend who (previously) would not have worn colored socks if you PAID him.
The most effective cross-sellers are curious. They focus on the big picture – goals, plans, challenges, opportunities, gaps. They educate. They encourage. They offer options to consider rather than focusing one-by-one on specific needs or products.
The V E R Y nice clothing store sales person could have sold my friend the package of socks, three pairs. A standard “product bundle.” And my friend would have been happy, his mission quickly accomplished.
However, the sales person wasn’t a “socks guy,” or a “suit guy,” or a “shoes guy.” The guy knew how to dress men, taking into account what the men he dressed were about and what they could tolerate, to help them express themselves best through their clothing.
The big objective was: “Assure this (new client) that he would make the right impressions, feel comfortable, stylish, almost a little trendy, at an important event with friends and family.”
“Where are you going?” was such a great question, SO much more powerful than, “How many pairs, sir?” We’re talking more than socks, here.