How to Sell a Languishing Product — Without Discounting It

Try these tips for selling that product that just won't seem to budge. 

Alison Martin
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Every showroom has one. Maybe it’s a sofa. Perhaps a table lamp. Whatever it is, it’s been sitting in on your floor for months and hasn’t sold. While your first instinct may be to discount the stalling item, this can actually train customers to always expect a price cut, says Alyson Atherton Fischer, Senior Consulting Associate at McMillanDoolittle, LLP. Before you discount, try these tactics to sell that languishing product and get it out of your showroom once and for all.

(Re)Educate your team

Sales associates often ignore products they don’t know much about, so if a product isn’t selling, it might be because your staff doesn’t know what makes it a great buy. David McMahon, Vice President of Business Performance Groups and Consulting Services at HighJump, recommends checking in with all sales associates to make sure they’re talking up that product.

Rearrange the vignette

Maybe the problem isn’t the product; it’s the other products around it. “You have to look at how it’s sitting in the line up,” McMahon explains. Create a new vignette for the product and switch up the style around it or move it to a new location. Fischer adds that natural barriers — narrow aisles, product overflow — may be stopping customers from reaching your languishing product. Clear the aisles, clean the area and change any light bulbs so customers can’t miss it.

Donate it for a tax write-off

Charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity accept lighting and furniture donations, and while that may seem like you’re just giving away a product, you’re not. Save your receipt, and when tax season comes around you can write it off while still doing some good in your community. “Any time you give back to a community, that’s probably the best advertising you’ll ever get,” McMahon says.

Feature the product on social media

Your product’s buyer could be on social media right now. Share a photo on your Facebook or Instagram page and tell your followers why this item is such a great find. Fischer says getting the word out is key, so explain the features of your product in the post and encourage followers to come check it out.

Offer creative employee incentives

Most employees love a good bonus, but it doesn’t always have to come in check form. Fischer says other creative incentives can give sales associates the added boost they need to sell a product. Consider offering an extra vacation day, a special lunch of the associate’s choice or the opportunity to come in later or leave early on a Saturday to the employee who finally gets that product off your floor.

Bingo is the game-o

Turning a job into a game can help you move product and keep associates motivated

Create a Bingo card and put a different product — including the one(s) languishing — in each space. When an associate sells that product, they get the square. First one to Bingo gets that extra vacation day. “It’s amazing what a friendly competition will do to drive sales,” Fischer jokes.

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