Can team SAS wow me with their sales skills, or will I be looking for the exit, there, there and there. Let’s find out…
I’m flying back from three days working with a retailer in Denmark. It is the first time I have travelled with Scandinavian Airlines and although my preconceptions were clouded by a troublesome iOS App before flying, the staff onboard both flights were very impressive.
Staff were friendly, bright, engaged and authentic. An experience I am finding rare with European flights of late.
Whilst on my return flight, I am sat next to a snoring frequent flyer (irrelevant but amusing nonetheless) typing up my summary notes for the client. The sessions had been on retail selling and key tips and tricks to impact business before Christmas.
I had just completed the paragraph on add-on selling when the cabin crew came through offering drinks. “Do you have a beer?” I asked. “Yes” said the crew member “I have this Scandinavian beer in blonde or dark, it’s a little more expensive, or Carlsberg”.
I thought the distinction between the ‘Scandinavian’ beer and ‘Carlsberg’ which interestingly is made in Copenhagen – Denmark – Scandinavia, was interesting. More intriguing was the distinction between the two brands that centred only around price. Is that the only difference? Is the ‘more expensive’ beer delicious, brewed in a unique way, Scandinavia’s most popular? Perhaps, but all I know is that it is the most expensive.
Lacking a sound motive to spend more than I needed to, I opted for the Carlsberg. As the cabin crew member prepared my over priced can of beer and tiny plastic beaker, he played a brilliant card. “Would you like some cashew nuts with your beer sir?” Absolutely I did. I hadn’t realised before, I hadn’t considered what snack offering they had, it’s not even a snack I eat very often – but it was instantly the perfect match to my cold beer.
As small an add-on sale cashew nuts are, they are still an add-on, an extra bit of turnover that maximises my spend during this relatively short flight. It made my beer more enjoyable and no doubt made me a little more thirsty thanks to the salt. It didn’t annoy me, as most attempts to add-on sale do, and enhanced my experience. That was a brilliantly simple and relevant add-on sale. Although this appears so basic, I cannot remember the last time a bar offered me nuts or snacks with a drink.
Like an inverted feedback sandwich of good, bad, good – the interaction did take a turn for the worse again when I asked if I could pay in sterling. “You can but the rate is terrible”. Ok a few things here, twice he has made cost assumptions, despite no indication I have any issues with cost. Secondly, why are SAS knowingly offering terrible exchange rates? Wishing not to dwell on either, I paid on a card in the local currency and ended the encounter.
Whilst enjoying my beer and cashew nuts he completed his walk through the cabin and made an announcement, promoting the duty free offering. These scripted sales pitches are typically distracting, irritating and weak, and most of the pitch did the same, he did say a one thing that caught my attention however. “Our best sellers are…lipstick, candy…all with a Scandinavian twist”. This felt less scripted, in fact I could see him riffling through his trolley to decide what was tonight’s best sellers (presumably based on which had been the least best selling items, left on the trolley). Best sellers plays on a core psychological driver known as ‘Social Influence’. We take comfort in following the crowd, the group or the majority when making decisions. It reduces risk and is deemed more trustworthy. Whilst his delivery was a little clumsy and insincere, I was impressed to hear him use the technique, one I haven’t heard used by the incessant efforts to sell duty free on flights across Europe. The Scandinavian twist was also very clever. A Friday evening flight may well have Brits returning home to loved ones or visitors from Scandinavia about to descend on someone – both have grounds to bear gifts with a ‘Scandinavian twist’.
What we can learn?
- Always look for opportunities to sell add-ons, in a relevant and timely way. With a little thought they can enhance the customer experience.
- Find a distinction between products/services that actually represent value to your customer.
- Use the power of social influence to guide customer decisions and reduce the perceived risk.
- Consider likely motives a customer may have to purchase your products, and include where you can.
Well done SAS, whilst not faultless, better than most!