Helping Phone Reps Increase AOV

Mar 26, 2008 5:54 PM  By

You can do a few things to increase your average order value. But you’ll have to work for it. Most customers calling to order have chosen their merchandise before they dial; some have even calculated their order total. So triggering the impulsive act of adding on to an order will take a little bit of advance planning.

Product considerations are important. Make sure the items you’re offering as add-ons are simple to describe and easy for both reps and customers to picture in case they don’t have immediate access to either physical merchandise or photos. If the benefits or features are not obvious, certainly draft out a brief, cogent explanation that is easy to say and will be readily understood.

There are several different ways of structuring or drafting offers that can work for a variety of products and marketplace conditions. Here are a few methods.

Bundling – Try offering a bundled or “kitted” item (i.e., a combination of component items sold and billed as a single unit), such as a small electronic gadget plus case and batteries, at a price that is slightly less than what the customer would pay for the items if ordered separately. This way, whenever a customer asks for the gadget, you offer the bundle.

You can always drop to a step-down offer (gadget plus case; gadget plus batteries; gadget alone) to accommodate the customers who choose to forgo the convenience of the package for some reason.

Eligibility – Encourage customers to buy more of the same product or any mix of products to get a discount or special packaging of some kind. This is a great offer when you’re selling consumables (things that get used up) of any kind. “I can give you a discount of $3.25 for a volume price of $42.50 per unit if you buy at least 100 units.”

You can also create an eligibility target that, when met, provides customers with reduced or waived shipping and handling.

Generic vs. personalized – The standard generic offer at the end of the call takes less skill to compose on the fly and puts less pressure on the reps, but it’s typically also less appealing to customers. So if there’s a simple way to tailor each presentation to the customer history or specific items ordered this time, it’s worth the mental energy and some practice time. The language can be as simple as, “Because you ordered widget A, let me suggest B,” and give a very brief benefit statement to back up the recommendation.

Permission vs. description – This option is similar to the generic/personalized choice. Asking permission to make an offer is less challenging for reps; it’s also less likely to trigger an impulse reaction in customers and makes it much easier for them to take themselves off the hook with a quick “no.”

At one end of the continuum, the softest touch is, “I have some specials this week, would you like to hear them?” Slightly stronger is, “The croco-pattern belt goes wonderfully with that suit; may I tell you about it?”

The next level of offer is fully personalized based on whatever information customers have given about their situation and choices: “Those flower pots really are the lightest in the line, so you shouldn’t have any trouble moving them. If you’d like, I can also send you three of the rolling stands to match — they’re only $7.99 a piece, and this way they’ll still be easy to move even after your plantings grow to full size.”

Discounting – It’s just not necessary if your product line will lend itself to a somewhat impulsive buy and if the specific offer you make has clear value, as with the example of the rolling stands for flower pots. Instead of discounting in general, offer an eligibility-based price reduction for a volume purchase, or for purchasing multiple additional lines.

Discounting is worth it if you can position yourself as a sole supplier or if you can at least garner a greater share of wallet. And if you can position the item as an overstock, you create even more of a compelling reason for a customer to buy — everyone likes a bargain, and customers typically love to benefit from a supplier’s mistake in overbuying!

Liz Kislik is president of Rockville Centre, NY-based Liz Kislik Associates, a management and customer service consultancy.