Eighty percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your customers. So while your competition worries about getting new customers in the door, you can take advantage of the more lucrative opportunities already walking in. Here are five strategies to strategically sell more to your top 20 percent. 

1. Lead with a Conversation 

“Hi! How are you?” …

“My name is Mary, let me know if you need anything.” 

You’d better be cringing. Saying either is almost as detrimental as ignoring the customer completely.  

Train your team to have a conversation: “What brings you in today?” or “Tell me about your pet.” Include open-ended questions to encourage customers to open up. Customers get to know and trust a sales associate who genuinely listens and responds. Suddenly, the right products and services are an easier sell (and you have the information to make recommendations).

2. Remember Add-Ons 

Items that complement the primary purchase should never be forgotten but often are because we get lazy and just assume that if the customer needed it he would have asked. Stop assuming and make it automatic to suggest the most natural add-on to every sale. For example, a customer buying a collar might need a matching leash or updated ID tag. Complementary items are the path of least resistance from the customer as you’re suggestively selling, and they’re just good customer service from a knowledgeable expert.

Service providers have an especially easy time with add-ons — if they only ask. When a client books a boarding appointment, ask if she’d like her dog to be groomed before pickup so he smells fresh and clean. After she says yes, ask about teeth brushing or de-shedding. Before you know it, you’ve added an extra $50 to that reservation just because you asked a few simple questions. 

3. Dig to the Root of the Issue

Once you master the basics of the conversation, use it to sell more while wowing the customer with service. Let’s say a customer comes in for a harness. Instead of immediately jumping to the complementary matching leash, a conversation can get to the heart of the need. What’s really making the customer come in for the harness? What if you discover he’s fed up with his dog pulling? While fitting the dog for a harness, drop some expert knowledge: While the harness will help, the true trick to ending the pulling is teaching the dog the “heel” command. And to have a focused dog during training, he needs your absolute favorite, no-dog-can-resist treat. Carry on with the suggestion of a treat pouch. Toss some training tips on how to master heel, and score! Double add-on! 

4. Connect the Dots

Taking the harness example further, connect all the dots of the purchase he is about to make. What other products might he need as a result of using the product he came in for? Will the dog’s fur mat from the harness rubbing? Inform him of this and suggest a slicker brush. Does the dog have little to no hair like a boxer or pit bull? Let him know about balms to soothe rough patches. 

5. Sell at the Register 

The register area is the final place where you can increase a sale. Be strategic with the items you feature here instead of cluttering it up with miscellaneous afterthoughts. At my boutique, we had three buckets overflowing with bully sticks at three price points to accommodate all budgets. We included a sign that read “Your dog will be upset if you leave empty-handed. He’ll be able to smell that you were near a bully stick. Stock up today — Buy 3 Get the 4th Free.” More than half our customers would bite and most of those bought more than one. This concept sometimes resulted in a $60 impulse purchase! 

Candace D’Agnolo owns successful pet business, Dogaholics, and offers business consulting at Pet Boss Nation. For help creating a customized 90-day plan to tackle all your business goals, download a free worksheet, at petbossnation.com/petsplus. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of PETS+.