How to Push Products Without Being Pushy

Retailers have products they want to sell, but it’s important to keep the customer a priority. Striking the right balance means everybody wins.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Jackie Holbrook

Sales is an art form. A successful salesperson strikes the right balance between identifying a customer’s needs while presenting the products that need to go. Figuring out this balance is tricky, especially for younger or newer sales staff members. But there are a few tricks that can help you drive products without force.

Occasionally customers come in to browse, but most customers come to the shop because they need something. Understanding what they’re looking for opens up important lines of communication.

“Basically I’m kind of upfront,” said Tara Bullock, co-owner of Bullock’s Archery in Ventura, California. “I find that’s the easiest way and they respect that. So, I ask them, ‘What are you looking for?’”

Based on their response, Bullock said, this gives her a good idea of what products to show the customer. Sometimes the answer is extremely specific, and other times it’s broad. A broad answer needs some follow-up questions. For example, if a customer comes in looking for a bow, narrow it down to traditional or compound. Sometimes they don’t know what they want, so it’s your job to help.

The next question should be about budget. While it can be uncomfortable to talk about money, that shouldn’t be the case. Shopping is a transactional activity. Customers want products and you have them.

“The more that I’ve worked in sales, the more I realize that that’s how you make money,” Bullock said. “Customers expect to spend money when they come into a shop, and you should expect to take it.”

Understanding the budget prevents everyone from wasting time. You won’t push product that’s outside their price range, and the customer won’t spend time looking at items they can’t afford. This is also an important step in developing a trusting and lasting relationship.

A customer’s experience level with archery or bowhunting can also be a big factor in this conversation. If a new archer comes in looking for a setup, it’s vital to ask what their budget includes. Is their budget just for the bare bow? Or does it cover everything like the arrows, rest and release aid? Do they even know what they need? By establishing a budget and what it includes, you get a better understanding of what products to show first.

“I will show them the bows that I want to push and that I think will be better for them,” Bullock said.

This is where understanding which products you want to sell is essential. As the store’s owner, Bullock said, she knows her inventory and keeps up to date on the products that need to go. She makes sure these items are top-of-mind daily. This ensures that once she identifies what the customer wants, she’ll know which of her products will match.

“It’s my shop, so I know my products,” Bullock said. “I know what I have a lot of and what I want to sell, so I make sure that I have that in my head every day of what I’m needing to push.”

Respect the customers' budget. Photo Credit: ATA

Sometimes Bullock has products she wants to sell that will be a great match for the customer, but they’re just outside the price range. When this happens, she isn’t afraid to be honest. She’ll let them know the pros of the product, while being upfront about the price tag. Sometimes, she said, customers will see the value and be able to splurge happily. But if it’s simply too much money, placing pressure on a customer to buy something outside their budget won’t create a repeat customer. In the end, allow the customer to make their choice in their purchase.

“It’s a lot about reading the person,” Bullock said. “People leave happy without buyer’s remorse and then they come back.”

Respecting a customer’s budget is one of the best ways to establish a relationship that creates repeat customers. This also develops a relationship that will allow Bullock to make product recommendations in the future.

“I’ve had people tell me that’s the reason they came back was because I didn’t push them,” Bullock said. “I took into consideration what they said they were comfortable with, and I made sure I fit it to them and their needs.”

Not only do these customers come back, but they also bring friends. “I’ve gotten so much business from setting someone up right and respecting their needs and not pushing,” Bullock said.

It’s great to make a sale. It feels even better when it’s a product you want to push. But the best feeling is knowing the customer left happy.

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