One of the great things about the pet business is that your clients always want and need more ... more products, more services. So why do most pet businesses leave so much money on the table by failing to install powerful, proven up-sell and add-on selling systems? It doesn’t have to be that way.

Remember, the fastest, easiest, most cost-effective way to build both revenues and profits is through implementation of a formal, assertive up-sell and add-on selling system. And more important, failure to do so is actually a DISSERVICE to your customers.

Wait a minute. Failure to sell more to a customer ... to take more money from them is a DISSERVICE? How’s that?

It’s simply a matter of problem-solving and perspective. Your perspective, from being so close to your own business, is that all of your customers and clients know what you sell and how it benefits them. But the reality is, they DON’T know about or understand all of the things you sell, and they don’t know and understand all of the problems, challenges and concerns you can solve for them. In fact, in many cases they don’t know the best solution to pursue for the problem they came to you to solve in the first place.

You have an obligation in the name of honesty, courtesy and dedication to consistently adding massive value, advantage, protection and benefit to the lives of your customers, to educate them as to their best options, then ask them to take advantage of those best options.

Let’s say you just sold Janice a sweater for her poodle. She is delighted with her choice, thinks Zoe will be protected from the cold and will look most fashionable for her winter walks.

Now is the time for the Up-sell.

"A well-executed up-sell and add-on selling system will typically have your customers saying yes to your offers 15 to 30 percent of the time."

Explain to Janice that she can save herself time and protect Zoe’s paws with a lovely pair of complimentary Poodle Bootles. “And because you’ve purchased the sweater today, Janice, I am authorized to give you 25 percent off on the Bootles. They’ll only be $15 instead of the regular $20. Shall I add them to your order?”

Regardless of her answer, you can offer one or two additional add-ons in the customer’s best interest. And even if they say no to all of the offers, they’ll feel like you’re looking after their pet and them.

You have now earned her respect for caring enough about her to share your knowledge and experience, and present her with options. This will enhance you in her eyes, meaning that you will receive more repeat business and referrals from her.

In addition, you have just earned a small but significant increase of about $8 in the profit on your sale. That’s as much as a 20 percent increase in profit on a normal ticket of $40.

When a pet business fails to suggest these items right off the bat, you leave the customer to consider them separately, away from your shop. The result may be far less satisfying, frustrating and time consuming for the customer. This is clearly a disservice to the customer and lost opportunity for the owner.

Not only does the pet business owner miss an opportunity to increase the initial sale, in service to the client, but the opportunity to create additional clients from this one transaction is also blown.

“But we don’t want to be seen as pushy salespeople.”

Consider this ... you’re not running an amusement park, so the vast majority of your clients are adults. They’re the people who write your checks. You owe it to them as a matter of respect and courtesy, to treat them as adults. That means presenting all of their options without prejudging their desire or ability to pay, then letting them choose the right things for them. It also means making sure they’re informed about all the problems or challenges or concerns your business is capable of solving for them, whether they have you do it today, or over an extended period of time.

A good system for up-selling, add-on and cross-selling will consist of the following elements:

  1. Pre-determined offers — companion products and stand-alone offers. A variety of offers at varying price points is best. And be sure to present all the offers. Whether they say yes or no to your first add-on offer, has no bearing on their answer to your second or third offer. Who knows, they may say yes to all three!
  2. Materials to support those offers — sometimes you need sales support
  3. Scripts for you and your staff — to use in presenting the offers
  4. Incentives for your staff members — to implement your system
  5. Training for your staff — so they know how to execute the system
  6. A tracking system — to make sure the program is working, and how much it is adding to your average sale and your bottom line.

Will all customers buy everything you suggest, right when you suggest it? Of course not. But even when they say no, you have already pre-programmed them for later purchases down the line. A well-executed up-sell and add-on selling system will typically have your customers saying yes to your offers 15 to 30 percent of the time. If you’re seen by your customer as a true professional, the percentage of yeses can easily climb above 50 percent.

It is not unreasonable for pet businesses to expect to add 17 percent or more to their average transaction, literally overnight, when they install such a system. And the best part is, your customers and clients will thank you for it, and reward you with more loyalty, more business, and more referrals.

Jim Ackerman is a marketing speaker, marketing coach, author and ad writer. He is offering Pets+ readers a free Marketing Fitness Check-up to find and fill the holes in your marketing and advertising efforts. Send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For speaking services go to marketingspeakerjimackerman.com. Subscribe to his weekly marketing videos at youtube.com/bizkaboom.


This article originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of PETS+.

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