Current Issue - David Rubinstein: Add On, Follow Up and Get the Sale

Add line items, new customers and jump start old accounts.

David Rubenstein is founder of the Sell Like Hell Sales System, a repeatable sequence that salespeople can learn to become more effective.Why are banks robbed? Because that’s where the money is! 

It’s tough enough out there. And what are we doing about it? We can sit back and wait or we can be proactive about our business. This may mean that we have to change what we are doing — and change can be difficult. Heck, it is difficult and can be a major pain in the neck.

Working at the counter in a construction supply center is like directing traffic on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. An octopus would have a tough job. There is just so much going on. Working with walk-up customers. Coordinating with delivery. Interfacing with outside sellers. Yikes!

In working with STAFDA members, I have found that the good folks at the counter are among the hardest workers anywhere. They build positive relationships with our best clients everyday. They handle problems. They coordinate things on our end.

From a sales standpoint, what happens at the counter has a profound affect on revenue and profitability. An incredibly high percentage of revenue crosses the counter at one point or another.

There are a number of things that we can start doing today to take our business to the next level. Please consider. . .

Build an e-mail/mailing list
“What time do you close today?” How many calls do we get like this every day? The good news is that our folks are always polite and professional, provide the information and end the call. But, what really happened here? The person called because they needed something and wanted to know whether we can help. What if we became more proactive with these calls?

We could use this as an opportunity to grow our business by capturing the person’s name, phone and e-mail information.

  • Tell the caller our name.
  • Tell about store hours.
  • Ask what the person is looking for.
  • Capture name and phone number of the caller.
  • Confirm that the product is in stock.
  • Complete the transaction.
  • Ask when they will be coming in to pick it up.
  • And, after the call we could send a note thanking them for the inquiry and business

“Back in the day,” the good old hand-written phone logs were a staple of the business. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to obtain this information.

“How about fries with that?” “What size shake would you like?” These are examples of how one of the world’s best-run companies extends their business through aggressive “add-on” selling. Sometimes called “suggestive selling,” this is really just doing what make the most sense for our companies and for our customers.

The construction supply industry is incredibly ripe for this type of selling. In a perfect world, your computer system automatically “pops up” the add-on product. Otherwise, managers should designate the “add-on of the day” and everyone at the counter should be encourage – required? – to introduce an add-on product during each transaction.

Add-ons can be specific to the product being purchased:

  • With a drill, add bits and chisels
  • With re-bar, add tie wire and caps
  • With concrete sealer, add sprayers and rollers

Or, they can be generic in scope:

  • Protective eye-wear
  • Safety vests
  • Gloves
  • Gatorade

A concerted sales effort surrounding add-ons is the simplest way to take a $1.00 order and make it $1.07.

Interestingly, when we are proactive regarding add-ons, our customers benefit as well. They can save time and – sometimes –  money when making one transaction. They don’t have to run around time looking for what’s already in their possession. This is called “taking the buyer out of the market.”

Follow-up on delivery. Everyday, have each counter-seller make an out-going phone call to someone who received a delivery within the last work-week. The conversation might go like this:

  • Identify yourself and let the customer know you’re following up on the delivery.
  • Ask how the delivery went.
  • If there was a problem, deal with it and resolve it.
  • If it went well, ask what they will be needing next and when.
  • Talk about current specials.
  • And ask for a reservation.
  • Use this phone call as a sales opportunity.

One of the major reasons that this type of follow-up is not done is because we’re afraid to “call into a problem.” Maybe the delivery was late. Or, the order wasn’t filled properly. We need to get over this trepidation and be prepared to handle any problems we caused. Or, take advantage of a job well done.

Stay in touch with your customers when they least expect it.

Follow-up on quotes. What percentage of quotes are followed-up by your sellers? My experience has shown that we’ll take the time to generate a quote but can do a better job following-up on it.

First, understand what is happening by tracking the number of quotes generated over a two (2) week period. And, how many of those quotes have received a follow-up phone call to determine what the buyer has decided.

Guidelines should then be put in place to determine the appropriate action. For example, you may say that any quote over $500 – or, over $750 –  dictates a phone call within two (2) days – or, three (3) days. Whatever it is, this should be the company policy.

When we said we would. If we say we’ll call someone back, we should call them back. Even if we don’t have the answer the person wants to hear, the call must be made.

Dormant accounts
It is natural to deal with things right in front of us. The frenetic pace of day-to-day activities keeps us focusing on the here-and-now. So, what better reason to look elsewhere for sales opportunities?

That elsewhere might also be right in front — or actually right in back — of us. These are folks with whom we’ve done business in the past but are not presently active. Put another way, they are “out of site, out of mind,” and we should do something about it. These are our “Dormant Accounts.” Here’s how I define these accounts:

  • They have an account.
  • They have always paid in a timely manner.
  • They are paid in full.
  • They have been active within the past ninety (90) days.

And, we need to reach out right now! The conversation might go like this:

  • What’s changed in your business since we last talked?
  • How satisfied were with the service you received from us?
  • What jobs are you presently doing?
  • What will you be needing next on the job site?

Always remember to ask for the order
I think we need to be more assertive and proactive about our business. With all the resources we have in place — our reputation, inventory, personnel, delivery trucks, et al. — we are prepared to help our buyers do what they have to do every day.
And, we need to help ourselves. Every time one of our sellers talks to a buyer, we need to offer to take a reservation right then and there. We need to clearly explain that we can do the job for them in the most professional manner possible. I feel like a million bucks when I hear someone say, “no problem, we can do that. What P.O. do you want to use?”
Good selling. CS

David Rubinstein is founder of the Sell Like Hell Sales System, a repeatable sequence that salespeople can learn to become more effective. He has presented sales training sessions for hundreds of companies across the United States and Canada, teaching sales professionals from a unique perspective. Contact him at or via the Web site at