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Train Sales Staff In 'Bridging' To Boost Allied Product Orders

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 5/8/2014

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TAGS: Vending Times columnist, OCS salespeople, office coffee service, office coffee sales, OCS education, OCS customer service, coffee business, office refreshments, OCS sales training, Len Rashkin, allied product sales, OCS allied products

Editor's Note: This is the second article in a three-part series in which Len Rashkin will discuss ways to increase allied sales to improve profitability.

Last month, I discussed setting up a program to increase allied product sales for your telephone customer service reps and route sales drivers. I pointed out that you already have a satisfied "captured" audience, and that it's easier (and much less expensive) to sell additional products to this clientele than to find new customers. I also recommended a design for the correct commission form and the rules to follow in paying commissions to your sales staff. Please review last month's article to get caught up.

Before I cover employee incentives (compensation) to promote increased allied sales, I want you to remember the following three points:

First: make sure your route drivers and customer service people have each customer's past history of what was ordered within the past 12 months. Many companies place heavy product orders during holiday periods. Your staff should be aware of this; tell them to look back and remind their customers to reorder the same -- and encourage them to order additional products for the holidays, too, by suggesting new items your company is providing.

Second, when you begin each promotion, have the actual products in front of your telephone reps as a constant reminder of what they are promoting. Place the products on their desks, or on a shelf that is in full view of all the telephone reps. Your route drivers should have a handled clear plastic bag with all of the current promotions inside for all to see when they enter a customer's office. Seeing is believing, in the customer's eyes, as well a reminder to your driver to sell these products.

Last: you are in the OCS business to make a fabulous income and live your dream. Your employees also want to live their dream, and by your paying them additional money in the form of prizes, bonuses, etc., they will have the opportunity to have a better life. The more money they make, the more money you will make.

"Show me the money" is a simple incentive to get results, but it requires the proper training if it's to be really effective. Here are several choices to build employee incentive into this program:

1. Money rewards;
2. Money and prizes;
3. Prizes (gifts, vacations, dinners out, movie tickets, theater tickets, gift certificates, etc.);
4. Added vacation time.

You can reward individuals for their hard work in selling more products, and you can also form teams to compete against each other, if you have a large staff.

I personally have found that you should compensate individuals for their ability to sell allied products, and reward the whole team if each team member pulls his or her weight in selling the promotional items. A weak team member can be pushed to work harder and can be mentored by the stronger players. If you do put a plan into action to reward the whole team, you should set down guidelines that establish the minimum sales goals for each team player prior to giving out any rewards.


Here are suggestions for promoting different categories of your product mix and services to increase sales all around by offering money incentives to your team for encouraging purchases of products the customer has not ordered within the last 12 months:

» Hot cocoa -- 75¢ on first box and 25¢ each additional box
» Cup-a-Soup -- 50¢
» Soup bowls, case -- $1
» Plastic spoons -- $1
» Box of Saltines -- $1
» Case of soda, iced tea, juice -- $1
» Box of straws -- 50¢
» Box of cold cups or hot cups -- $2
» Box of plastic garbage bags -- $1
» Case of paper towels -- $2

Looking at the above you can see that the items on the list are somewhat related to one other. I call this "bridging" from one product to the next.

How are they related? You see the offers for hot cocoa and hot soup. Naturally, then, soup bowls or hot cups will be needed to prepare and consume those products. The saltines will go well with soup (and you can promote an assortment of cookies, as well). Each item is related to the next in the list: you sell soda, and then offer the cups and straws. The plastic bags are needed to collect the empty cans, and the paper towels are to clean up any spills. "Bridging" allows for an easy transition from one product to the next during the sales presentation, and helps the salesperson remember other related products.

Training your staff is essential. By teaching and using this "bridging" technique, you will increase sales of all of your allied products. Practice with your telephone reps and your drivers. Have them suggest one major product and then list all of the additional items that can be related to the one before. Example: coffee -- cream -- sugar/sweeteners -- stirrers -- cups and lids ... and the list goes on.

Next month, I will continue this discussion and analysis on promoting additional products and services. If you have any questions, please call me at (516) 241-4883 or email me

LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association.