Suggestion is a fascinating thing.
Would you like fries with that?
When I was a fast food restaurant manager approximately 10% of all “suggestive selling” attempts were successful without asking a second time or explaining the offer. “But Kev, why don’t they work 90% of the time?”
And of course the answer is that people came into the store and knew what they want because they order the same thing every tiem.
Even in a high speed environment like lunch time at a fast food place is packed with lessons. This is one of the great one’s.
400 people come on Friday at lunch. They place an ord 40 people purchase the suggested item. Let’s says that item is $1.50. That’s $60.
$60 for doing nothing.
$60 pays the salary of 3 employees for that hour (after accounting for the cost of the food). Essentially suggestive seliing paid for the cashier(s) on duty.
The cost of labor and the cost of food are the two big expenses you have in a store after it has been opened.
Suggestive selling translates into no employment costs for part of your staff.
Or you could simply skip the suggestive selling and pay for the expense out of your own pocket.
Simple, basic concept.
In other retail environments, let’s say an upscale restaurant, suggestive selling is far more profitable. “Would you like desert?” That desert is $10 – $15 and if you simply bring the desert menu with you instead of asking the person if they would like to see the desert menu, sending the waiter to go get it, DOUBLES the sales.
Once again, a suggestion to purchase can pay for the servers salary many times over.
Suggestions can trigger almost instant compliance or a resistant, “no way, not me!”
Suggestions are not computer generated communications.
“Would you like a chocolate sorbet or a nice desert?”
The exact words can matter, but do they matter as much as the tone of voice and cadence of the delivery of the suggested question? Not often. So remember that suggestion is more than a few spoken or written words.
What is it that makes a suggestion that will be acted upon?
If Brianna suggests something to Veronika, Veronika may or may not act upon the suggestion. If Brianna suggests something to hundreds of people like Veronika, some may or may not act upon that suggestion.
Depending on certain variables (Brianna’s authority, status, attractiveness, competence, the environment) you and I could figure out how significant Brianna’s suggestion power is…
But Brianna could do one thing today that would make her influence with Veronika more powerful. There is one thing that she can do to increase the chances that Veronika will comply with what Brianna wants to have happen.
What is it?
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the Sales Bible and the “Little Book of…” series, on our first dinner together, asked me, “In two words, what is selling?”
One of my all time favorite concrete walls.
I simply shook my head. No idea where he was going.
That got the obligatory head nod because I had to wade through a lot of possibilities in my mind, and I still do today. One thing is for sure. “Ask Questions,” is a reallygood answer.
It’s unfortunate that most people ask questions ineffectively. They either come across as a “district attorney” or a “high pressure salesman”.
“And where were you on the night of January 8?”
“And Mr. Hogan (three people called me Mr. Hogan this weekend, PLEASE don’t do that. Mr. is reserved for …well…not me!), isn’t it true that you’ve been using Williamson Lawn Mowers for 10 years and haven’t enjoyed them once? And wouldn’t it make sense to increase your pleasure while pushing by owning the new Super Delux XQR47 John Antler Lawn Mower? And if I were to give you the lowest possible price on the Super Delux XQR47…would you buy it today?”
The high pressure salesman sounds just like the District Attorney…
KEYPOINT: Is it any wonder that the PUBLIC places little credibility in salespeople when they communicate identically with those accused of committing a crime?!
And yet, Jeffrey’s point cannot be moved. Asking questions, IS, selling…it’s simply more precise to say, “asking persuasive questions with a gentle elegance.”
So, what is it that makes a question powerful?
Imagine, if you will, that you have potential a client you would like to do business with. You can be valuable to them and vice versa.
“Hey, were you considering switching lawn mowers fairly soon?” What would you think of working with me?”
A recent study of predicting whether people would perform vice behaviors more often based upon suggestion of doing such behaviors, in the form of a QUESTION showed fascinating results.
A new study by researchers from Duke, USC, and UPenn is the first to explore how questioning can affect our behavior when we have mixed feelings about an issue.
The study, in the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that asking people questions, like how many times they expect to give in to a temptation they know they should resist, increases how many times they will actually give in to it.
“Research on attitude formation has increasingly recognized that attitudes can be comprised of separate negative and positive components which can result in attitude ambivalence,” explain Gavin Fitzsimons (Duke University), Joseph C. Nunes (University of Southern California), and Patti Williams (University of Pennsylvania).
“In the present research we focus on vice behaviors, those for which consumers are likely to hold both positive and negative attitudes. We demonstrate that asking consumers to report their expectations regarding how often they will perform a vice behavior increases the incidence of these behaviors.”
Intention questions are generally perceived as harmless, and the researchers found that this may cause consumers to lower the guard they would otherwise have with more explicitly persuasive pitches, such as advertising. In a series of three experiments, they demonstrate that seemingly benign questioning may serve as a liberating influence that allows consumers to give in to their desires more often than they would have otherwise.
For example, the researchers asked a group of actual college students how often they intended to skip class in the following week.
Another control group of students was asked how often they intended to floss.
Over the course of a semester, the group that was asked how often they intended to miss class ended up with one more absences, on average, than the group that was not asked.
As the authors explain: “Despite very real negative repercussions, respondents to a question about their future class attendance engaged in the negative behavior (missing class) at a significantly greater rate than those not asked to predict their behavior.”
The results were especially pronounced for those with chronically low self-control, and the researchers point out that their findings pose a public policy dilemma for survey researchers who ask questions about vice behaviors in order to gain insight and discourage them.
“Fortunately, we also document two moderators of the effect that can prevent intention questions from exacerbating indulgences in vices,” the researchers write, “(a) having people explicitly consider strategies for how they might avoid the behavior, and (b) having people create a self-reward for sticking with their stated usage patterns.”
Original Research Reported in Article: Gavan J. Fitzsimons, Joseph C. Nunes, and Patti Williams. “License to Sin: The Liberating Role of Reporting Expectations,” Journal of Consumer Research: June 2007
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