Perfecting the Art of the Add-On Sale What is an add-on sale? When I took my first job as a pharmacist, the owner of the pharmacy told me the following:
by Shelly Prial

Perfecting the Art of the Add-On Sale

What is an add-on sale? When I took my first job as a
pharmacist, the owner of the pharmacy told me the following:
“If a customer is buying a bottle of Tincture of Iodine, ask
if he or she has Band-Aids or a sterile dressing.”

He explained that every over-the-counter sale has a companion
product that I should suggest the customer purchase. He said that I
would probably score about 80 percent of the time — 80
additional sales per hundred customers each day.

Here is a thought. Your company may make an average of 100 OTC
sales each day. That means your sales staff is speaking with each
of these customers, helping them find the products they seek,
reviewing with them how best to use the products and establishing a
relationship. Think of what it would mean to your bottom line if
your staff were to “add on” one item to each


Reward your salespeople as they perfect their technique to make
add-on or companion sales. When you hold your regularly scheduled
staff meetings, offer a prize to the salesperson who shows the best
results in this area.

Prizes such as a dinner for two or tickets to a show go a very
long way toward boosting employee morale and creating an
environment of friencly competition. Give your salespeople another
reason — in the form of an incentive — to seek add-on
sales for your company.


A little enthusiasm can make a big difference when you deal with
a customer. It can help you close a sale, for instance. Moreover,
showing a little enthusiasm when you're dealing with an irate
customer can help resolve a difficult situation. However, you must
not fake enthusiasm — false enthusiasm is obvious and
ineffective. When you are excited about what you are doing —
as you all should be — that enthusiasm will help your company


I'm old enough to remember when “Uncle Miltie,” or
Milton Berle, was a television star. What made a lasting impression
on me was how the sponsor of his show, Texaco, spoke about its
service. Singers, dressed in the Texaco uniform, sang praises about
what drivers could expect when buying fuel at their stations:
service! Many years later, I still recall what they offered —
and delivered.

Service makes for satisfied customers, and satisfied customers
will tell their friends and neighbors about what you did. You can't
purchase this kind of advertising — you must earn it.

The other side of the coin is poor service. A disgruntled
customer can do a great deal of damage. When the client complains
to a friend or neighbor about what you did (or did not do), this
can seriously harm your otherwise good reputation.

Thank you

One of the most effective ways to build goodwill — and
earn the privilege of obtaining the add-on sale — starts with
a simple “thank you.”

When you sell or deliver a piece of equipment, make a phone call
the next day to inquire “Has the equipment arrived?”
“Have you received instructions for its use?” or
“Do you have any questions?” and to say “Thank
you for the purchase.” Such a call will go a very long way
toward building repeat business. Several dealers I know also send a
little note expressing their appreciation for allowing their
company to supply the equipment the patient's physician

Sheldon “Shelly” Prial is a partner with HPS
Healthcare Management. In 1987, he founded the Homecare Providers
Co-op, now part of the VGM Group. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at