Retail Training To Sell The More Expensive Item

Fishing illustration

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

Updated April 29, 2024

The retail world is upside down. And I don’t mean because of Amazon…

Once upon a time, merchants purchased the cheapest items to draw people in, and then, because they held high regard for their retail sales training, they upsold the best answer for their customers.

In today's topsy-turvy world, retailers are showing the cheapest as the ANSWER.

How this happened

When sales are down, businesses cut employees.

Next is training.

What this has done

The lack of retail sales training leads employees to sell cheaply as the answer, which is expensive for your business.

Case in point …

I was working with a sporting goods store once when I asked a young woman, "What's the best fishing hook you have?" She quickly pointed out the features and benefits, saying, "These are cheap, so you won't care when you lose them."

While that was a feature and a benefit, I asked, "But isn't the reason you lose them that they are cheap - they either break or you can't hook the fish?"

She realized that the best hook, the most expensive, was because it was twice as strong and much sharper, so the fish could be set more easily, resulting in more fish being caught. That's what the fisherman wants - right?

More fish, less frustration.

That's the selling point…

In this case, the cheaper hook was the most expensive - when you factor in time lost and fish lost - not to mention frustration to the fisherman. Think about all it took for that guy to carve out his time, get all his gear, find his perfect spot, and sit there for hours in what he thought would be a fun afternoon... then think about those cheap hooks and the fish he lost.

Why selling the cheap is bad

When you sell the cheapest item as the answer, you open yourself up to:

  • Having to mark down your premium items.
  • Dissatisfied customers telling their friends, “It (broke, split, collapsed) after just a few (wearings, uses, tries.)
  • Dissatisfied customers telling their friends, “They used to carry good stuff, now it’s all ‘Made in China.’”

Oh yeah, and it’s not just sporting goods…

You hear it in the auto parts store; “You could just do this and get the same effect – for less.” You hear it in the apparel ads, “Same fashion – for less.” You hear it in the garden center, "Save money, get the smaller ones."

Except that what seems the same isn’t. A hook is not just a hook.

This brings me to…

What to do instead

Retail sales training is brain training, not rote training. It is not, “Do this, then this.”

You have to educate the employee first so that they can educate the customer second.

You need to explain why the most expensive item costs more and not assume anyone will see its worth just because it’s priced higher.

Customers are increasingly settling with their food, clothing, and furniture choices. They don’t realize all they don’t know; they feel they are being ripped off, which leads to their frustration, first with their cheap purchase and then with the person who took their money for it.

Make sense? Then see also, Best Suggestive Selling Tips and Techniques for Luxury Retail Stores

In Sum

Anyone can vomit features and benefits to a customer, but the true winners in retail are those who enjoy the game of selling, analyze what they say and how they say it to a customer, and connect this process to every sale they make. Those winning salespeople were educated on the benefits of the more expensive items and knew that those hidden features would lead the customer to say, “I’ll take it.”

While everyone can see a low price, most customers – and most employees nowadays- don’t see the eventual cost to the customer.

Like those fishermen and their cheap hooks, customers who leave with the cheaper items, more often than not, will find themselves frustrated using the more affordable product.

And remember, you handed that frustration to them.

And now you’ve lost them. That’s what upside-down thinking does to people.