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Tips on Selling

Retail jeweller sales myths debunked

The science of selling is loaded with misconceptions that create barriers to success in retail and other customer-focused businesses. DOUG FLEENER discusses and challenges some common myths about sales.

The adage is, “We achieve what we believe.” Sometimes this holds true and other times it’s less applicable. Here are a few examples of sales beliefs that are more myth than fact.

Myth: Staff can't make sales goals on slow days

Granted, it might be a little challenging to make a sales goal when fewer people are walking in the door but slower traffic also gives the sales team an opportunity to spend more time with customers. All it takes is one good customer to make the day.

Myth-busting action: set the sales team higher goals for average daily sales on slower days. Push them to use the additional time they can spend with each customer to sell higher-priced items. It’s also important to determine what actions are required to achieve these results. Perhaps set higher expectations on calling customers on slow days, as well as other traffic-building actions.

Myth: Customers want to be alone

It’s true that customers like to be left alone by employees who don’t add value to their shopping experiences or perhaps until customers are acclimated to the store but if the store experience is better with an employee than without one, it’s up to salespeople to make that connection.

Myth-busting action: the ability to engage customers is one of the most undervalued skills in specialty retail, especially with jewellery stores. It is something that needs to be practiced every day and a skill that managers and storeowners need to coach. Make it a focus over the course of just one week and be amazed by how quickly this can elevate everyone’s skills. Of course, if the customer wants to shop without the assistance of staff, that’s fine too.

Myth: It's hard to find good help

It’s not a myth that hiring good people is difficult but it is a myth that most storeowners and/or managers find good staff because they aren’t looking for them.

"Try inviting at least one potential applicant to visit the store every week and, if suitable, take the opportunity to recruit them"

Often, storeowners and managers hire the best applicant who applies for a job when what managers really need to do is go out and find and enlist great people. In this sense, it’s really a self-fulfilling prophecy that it’s hard to find good retail help.

Myth-busting action: always be recruiting. True, that’s easier said than done. To make it more actionable, try inviting at least one potential applicant to visit the store every week and, if suitable, take the opportunity to recruit them. This should happen at the store because no one likes it when businesses recruit people at their places of current employment.

A way to do this is to keep an eye out for good examples of customer service. When that barista or waitress gives great service or when someone presents as interesting and outgoing at a social event, tell these people about the store and invite them to come see it. Managers will be amazed at how easy it is to discover good people when they look for them.

Myth: Sales commission impacts the customer experience negatively

It’s not individual commission that’s the issue; it’s the behaviours of storeowners and/ or managers who allow it to happen. Plenty of retailers pay individual commission and their businesses deliver some of the best customer experiences in retail.

Myth-busting action: if owners think individual commission could be a benefit to their businesses, try testing this with two-week or month-long contests that present awards to the employees with the highest sales per hour. Pay special attention to unacceptable behaviour by more aggressive employees. If that goes well, perhaps then consider adopting a commission model of paying on individual sales.

Myth: It's pushy to show product

An important part of delivering a valuable in-store experience is to demonstrate the value that good salespeople can bring to customers.

Staff should already know to warmly welcome customers with a smile, get out from behind the counter, avoid using retail clichés like, “How may I help you?” and make every sales transaction personal but do they know how they can use product to enhance their selling?

There are plenty of myths about showing products to customers and it’s important that these are dispelled.

Customers can’t buy an item if they don’t know it exists. Sure, they can look around and see some of the products but do they see all of them? Can they easily tell what is new and what is last season? It’s unlikely. This is how staff add value and, at the same time, bust a barrier.

It’s true that staff shouldn’t ask customers if they would like to see a product because the natural reaction here is to say no. Instead, it’s better to ask, “Have you seen our new XWY?” This way, a yes or no answer still gives a salesperson an opening to engage.

"Even if showing product turns off one or two especially picky customers, it’s better to engage and deliver a great experience to 98 per cent"

This might still trigger a response from the customer of “I’m just looking,” which is a clear sign that a customer wants space. If this happens, the best response is, “Great, please let me know when you have a question and want my assistance.” This plants the seed that the shopper will need to engage with the staff member at some time.

Never miss an opportunity to hand customers a product whenever possible. Especially in jewellery retail, research shows that a shopper’s likelihood of purchase increases dramatically when staff get them to hold or wear product. If a product can be picked up, proactively hand it to the customer – they will take it.

Retailers with glass showcases will want to proactively take products out to develop rapport with customers, all the while reading the cues until they find a product that’s right for them.

If a product is too big or perhaps too valuable to be removed from a showcase, staff can still invite the customer to view the item through the glass while also handing them a representation of the product – this might be a brochure that shows a model wearing the item or the exclusive gift packaging in which it is presented. The sales team should have a goal that every customer touches or tries at least one product while in store.

Now, there are probably a few readers who are thinking that this is a pushy store experience, the kind that customers hate.

Reinforce with staff that they’re doing this to add value at a time when customers have been programmed to receive poor service that doesn’t add value. This is precisely why salespeople must use products to bust through the barrier.

Even if showing product turns off one or two especially picky customers, it’s better to engage and deliver a great experience to 98 per cent than not engage and deliver a great experience to anyone.

If staff are passionate about the products and the customers, this approach will work way more often than it doesn’t.

It is essential while showing product that staff tell customers what is being shown. If a customer is looking at a product but not touching it, pick it up and hand it to them. If that customer is holding a product, show something similar. Comparing two products is a great way to engage a customer and create product interest.

Talk about the product they’re viewing but be sure to include questions that ensure this is the right product for that person.

To recap, there is no shortage of misinformation in retail about what salespeople should and shouldn’t do.

Dispelling some of these myths will open staff to sales techniques that will not only enhance the shopping experience for customers but also improve the store’s bottom line.

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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