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Tips on Selling

Articles from EDUCATION / TRAINING (185 Articles)

What jewellers can learn from Goldilocks

When it comes to selling, there are certain behaviours that can stop sales before the process even begins. DOUG FLEENER discusses how staff can ensure they’re establishing the right in-store environment to promote purchasing.

Except for her love of breaking and entering, Goldilocks would have made a great customer – she didn’t require any help and she kept looking until she found exactly what she wanted!

She didn’t give up if an item was too big or too small, too hot or too cold, and just kept going until she found something ‘just right’.

Alas, customers aren’t often like Goldilocks – they’re not always sure what they like or even what they dislike, and will sometimes stop shopping altogether if they don’t immediately find what they’re seeking.

That’s why I think one of the many ways to add value to the customer experience is
to help consumers identify what they like and dislike so as to end up with something that’s just right.

Here are some tips to help retailers do just that:

• Show two or three items together
– It’s actually easier for customers to appreciate and differentiate between the varying details, features and fits of multiple products than they would if only viewing one item at a time.

• Ask the customer what they like about various products – A customer may tell the salesperson that there are certain things they like about a specific product but it may not be quite the right one for them. If this is the case, at least that customer is telling the salesperson what they want.

• Ask the customer what they dislike about various products – I once had a salesperson tell me I shouldn’t ask what a customer disliked because the customer might not buy what they’re looking at. I pointed out that if the customer doesn’t like something, I doubt they are going to buy it anyway!

I love to ask this question, almost as much as I love to hear the customer answer, “Nothing.” If there are things a customer likes and can’t articulate what they don’t like, then the salesperson has actually found exactly what they want to buy.

• Managers should ask the sales team how well they can help customers find just the right products – If this isn’t something the team practices on a regular basis, take the opportunity to role-play with each salesperson.

Once they feel comfortable, encourage them to put it into practice. Don’t be surprised how quickly they start finding customers items that are just right.

Put an end to sales-limiting lines

One of the biggest challenges in retail is the routine of it all. It’s fairly easy to fall into the trap of doing and saying the same things over and over, sometimes without even realising what’s occurring.

This not only diminishes the customer’s experience but these cliche´ opening lines or sales questions also sound rehearsed and that can directly impact sales.

Avoid, “Can I help you?” unless a customer is clearly seeking assistance because it can be an engagement killer. Honestly, “Can I help you?” should really be eliminated from a salesperson’s vocabulary!

If customers want help, they’ll ask. If they don’t, staff should look for ways to build
a connection. Consider opening instead with a greeting like, “Hello and welcome to [store name].” Try to learn if they’ve been in the store before and if they’re looking for something in particular.

Another one to avoid is, “Let me know if you have any questions.” Salespeople often say this after customers convey that they don’t want or need help.

It’s okay to use this if a customer wants some space but this is a statement that limits a salesperson’s ability to re- approach the customer later.

Of course, actively engaging with customers is how staff add value to the shopping experience and maximise sales opportunities.

Consider saying, “I’ll check back with you shortly. In the meantime, please let me know if I can be of any assistance.”

Now, when staff re-approach, they’re just following up on what they promised.

Of all the poor sales techniques and limiting lines, “Will that be all?” and, “Did you want to look at anything else?” cost a retailer the most sales since they’re being said to confirmed buyers.

The proper thing to do here is to continue to recommend products until the customer stops the sale.

Consider using a bridge statement to keep the transaction alive. Good examples include, “We have the perfect earrings to wear with that pendant,” and, “You’re going to want to pair that ring with this bracelet.”

Talk with customers, not at them

One day I walked into a store and a staff member asked, “How are you doing?” I started to answer before realising that she wasn’t talking to me.

She wasn’t talking to the couple behind me either.

As it turned out, she was just talking at people, mindlessly repeating, “How are you doing?”

The more I shop, the more I notice that people either talk with you or at you.

Outwardly, it looks the same but, as a customer, you can feel the difference.

The more aware I became of this, the more I realised how many people talk at you, even in one-on-one conversations! Routine and repetition is one of the largest barriers to delivering a great customer experience.

Honestly, ‘Can I help you?’ should really be eliminated from a salesperson’s vocabulary! If customers want help, they’ll ask. If they don’t staff should look for ways to build a connection.

Staff are expected to greet everyone who walks into the store so it is easy for them to fall into the trap of talking at people.

Run through the following tips with the team to ensure they’re conscious of the need to talk with people and not at them:

• Make eye contact – There’s a big difference between looking at people and making eye contact

• Smile – Staff who make eye contact and smile can’t help but make a positive impression on shoppers.

There’s no need to force a smile because it’s easy to smile naturally when making eye contact with people.

• Be personal – Staff who take the time to learn one or two things about a customer are well on their way to creating rapport.

Where are they from? Have they been at the store before? If they have, what have they purchased in the past?

• Acknowledge what people say – Customers can always tell when a salesperson is talking at them because the salesperson doesn’t really care what the customer has to say.

As an example, a hotel staff member once asked how my day was going. For fun, I said, “Not good. I lost my wallet,” to which he replied, “Okay, have a good day.”

• Keep it fresh – I don’t recommend ‘getting fresh’ with customers! I do recommend that staff keep changing what they say and do with customers.

When we slip too deeply into a routine, we slowly drift away from talking to people and begin talking at them.

Don’t impede sales

Sometimes staff inadvertently do things that make it harder for them to engage and sell to customers, and which also have a negative impact on the service experience.

One way in which salespeople can impede their own sales performance without realising it is by rushing the customer’s decision-making process.

This often happens when helping a customer find something specific. Staff hold a product up and ask the customer, “Something like this?” which requires the customer to make a split-second decision.

While staff might find an item the customer likes, they do also run the risk of missing a product that they really love.

Instead, as previously mentioned, why not select two or three items and present them together?

This will at least give the customer time to compare items, which will lead to a more deliberate decision.

As an added bonus, this also substantially increases the likelihood the customer will buy multiple items.

Another way to impede sales is to approach the customer too quickly. There is a big difference between greeting customers when they enter the store and peppering them with questions within the first five seconds of entry.

Most people need some time to decompress and to take in the environment – to get comfortable. Any salesperson who tries to engage a customer too quickly is certain to hear that dreaded shutdown phrase, “Just looking.”

When a customer says, “Just looking,” it’s usually a sign that staff did something to impede the sale, such as asking, “How can I help you?”

Asking if there will be anything else is another way to impede sales. Yes, I know I talked about this earlier but I’m a broken record about it because it has such a negative impact on the customer’s experience and also affects sales.

Staff owe it to customers to continue to show products and engage them until they say they’re done, and not when staff ask if they’re done.

It’s not the easiest habit to break but it’s important that staff break it.




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Doug Fleener

Contributor • Sixth Star Consulting

Doug Fleener is the author of a new book titled The Day Makes The Year (Makes The Life). Learn more:

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