Show, don’t tell

There’s no point trying to sell accessories on price, create the desire for them by displaying them in an attractive way, demonstrate them in action and show people why they can’t live without them, says T21 managing director Paul Laville

CE accessories tend to fall into one of two groups. The first defined by the things people need and know they need, and the second by the things people don’t know they need until they need them.

If there was a third group, then it might be made up of the things people know they probably need, but try and do without for as long as possible. And maybe there’s a fourth group – the things people never knew they needed because nobody told them they were needed and now they, well, do need them.

Maybe there’s a beautiful Venn diagram to be designed that explains exactly how this works? Or maybe not.

Turning this around, I’d wager that the products in each group are in fact the same, so it’s your customers’ perception of them that actually varies. Not so much a Venn diagram, more a sliding scale of perceived value on the customer’s part, determined by the influence of their knowledge, experience and any friendly recommendations they’ve been subject to prior to visiting your shop.

Accessories can turn in a decent margin, but the business only benefits from that if you can sell them at full price, regularly. Some accessories are imbued with a glamour that makes them more desirable than the mainline products they serve, and these are easy to sell. However, to the uninitiated, plenty more seem about as glamorous as a milk crate.

This is where you can do your bit.

Accessories are often one of the first casualties of discounting, and if it’s happening a lot, then you could be setting up expectations for this to be the norm. There’s nothing wrong with tactical discounting, but a discount only means something if the customer sees a beneficial value in the thing that is being discounted. If you decide to ‘throw in’ a cable, or reduce the price of a bracket to seal the deal, there’s a risk the customer will shrug their shoulders and say: “So what? I can buy it off the internet for half that price.”

If you’re struggling to sell accessories, either on their own or as part of a package, even to generate attractive tactical offers, then it could be worth putting some work in to change the customer’s perception of them. To quote from Mad Men, one of my favourite all-time programmes: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

I’ve cunningly twisted this around in many of our training workshops and seminars to mean that if your customers don’t see the value of certain accessories, then show it to them. And I mean show, rather than tell.