You've probably heard it said of someone selling at retail, “They could sell ice to an Eskimo,” or something similar to that.
But how did they get that way? Is the ability to excel at retail selling an instinctive talent that can’t be learned?
Not at all.
Almost anyone can learn to be a great retail salesperson if they follow these seven principles that humanizes the retail sales process.
1. Sell people on benefits
The “selling ice to an Eskimo” comment may be intended as a compliment of someone’s selling ability, but in truth it highlights what a salesperson shouldn’t do. Selling products or services that aren’t genuinely useful, enjoyable, or in some other way beneficial to a customer may help a salesperson’s short-term retail sales numbers, but in the long run, you can’t be a great salesperson if you don’t consistently provide value to your customers. Selling things to customers that they’ll later regret buying will result in them returning them later, customers who won’t visit again and will likely spread negative impressions of you and your brand across Facebook and Twitter.
The best salespeople not only understand this principle, they put it to work for them when they are selling. They make it clear to the customer how an item will benefit them, and then they repeat what the customer will get from buying the product throughout the selling process.
2. Be honest
Never overstate the value of a product or service, and don’t gloss over potential shortcomings. Not only does lying hurt your reputation and the brand’s reputation, most customers are savvy enough to tell when someone is being honest with them—and they like it! If they feel they can trust you, they’re more likely to buy.
Great salespeople always try to increase the sales amount. This isn’t anything for a salesperson to feel guilty about. As a salesperson, that’s your job—as long as you’re honest.
Often, you can upsell or suggestively sell by identifying a customer’s fears. If you can understand what customers are worried about, you can demonstrate how additional products and/or services can genuinely help alleviate their problems. For example, "Have you ever gotten home, ready to paint and discovered you were out of masking tape? We have several types right here."
Other times, you’re appealing to upsell a customers’ desires, which sometimes are not clarified in their own minds. If you can identify what a person is really after (e.g., not a specific car but a safe, affordable car that’s a little sporty) you can gear your selling toward meeting that desire which can often make a larger sale, as well as make the customer truly happy.
4. Learn from your successes and mistakes
You don’t stop learning to be a salesperson when your training is over—it’s an ongoing process. Great retail salespeople treat each sales opportunity as a chance to learn what works and what doesn't, and they always look for ways to improve. And if it doesn't work, they know the selling equation.
5. Go the extra mile
Selling is like being on a diet, learning a sport or musical instrument or improving your language skills—persistence pays off. You don’t want to be pushy, but you also want to be diligent in your follow-up, both pre-sale and after the sale. Show customers that you genuinely care about their experience and that you want to help them; not just yourself via their wallet. Consistently making small personalized contact can go a long way toward increasing your sales. In many ways, making a sale is a courtship, and there’s nothing wrong with “wooing” customers.
6. Pay attention to customer psychology
Great salespeople focus on “reading” customers’ personalities and making adjustments in sales technique based on the personality type. For example, Drivers require a different selling approach than Amiables do. Take note of how various kinds of people react differently to sales approaches, and alter your techniques accordingly.
7. Don’t act desperate
No matter how much you want to make a sale, don’t let the customer “see you sweat.” Remember that you’re selling them something that will make their lives better (or you should be), and your attitude ought to reflect that to the customer.
Too often we approach selling at retail as if it were all about how great our product or service is. It is a one-sided arrangement where we are trying to get the person's money to make ourselves happy. By using these seven tips to get better at selling, you should discover its all about the customer's experience in your store - not your need to get the sale.