The Retail Doctor's Blog

Attract, Close & Delight Your Customers

Sales Training: The 5 Stupidest Questions To Ask Retail Shoppers

Bob Phibbs

People who sell retail have to up their game, or their brick and mortar stores will bleed customers.

And don’t blame online sales…

In spite of the relentless onslaught of online retailers, 85% of transactions are still expected to be done in a brick and mortar store well into 2025 according to McKinsey.

Since that’s the case, it would be good to stop looking at omnichannel and online retailers as the real foes of a brick and mortar store and confront the real one…

Most retailers don’t make us feel comfortable enough to buy from them.

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Topics: Sales Training, retail employee, retail management, sales training for retail staff

9 Secrets To Effectively Managing Retail Employees [Infographic]

Bob Phibbs

A March 2015 survey by LoyaltyOne shows that approximately half of consumers reported experiencing a problem on their last shopping trip.

Of those customers, 81% decided not to contact the retailer about the issue. Among these silent shoppers, 32% said they were unlikely to recommend the retailer to friends and family.

I’m not surprised. Are you?

So very little is understood about what it takes to manage a retail employee…well any employee.  The real crisis is that poor management of associates has left them as unengaged on the salesfloor as they are in many aspects of their lives.

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Topics: Training, Retail, Employee Management

[Pics] Steal These 9 Visual Merchandising and Store Ideas

Bob Phibbs

I was recently on Michigan Avenue in Chicago where some of the most inventive and successful brands put their best and brightest designs. Before I get too far showing the visual merchandising retail trends that are right on, one of the keys to the idea behind these store designs is allowing enough space for the products to be seen.

So many retailers think that stores that are stocked to the brim offer choice, but what they really offer is the opportunity for shoppers to get overwhelmed and leave.  

Here are 9 stellar merchandising and visually interesting ideas you should adapt to fit your own store.


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Topics: Customer Service, visual merchandising, retail trends

How Using Technology To Greet A Customer Is Just Plain Creepy

Bob Phibbs

A survey from RichRelevance found that digital capabilities that identify, track, and use location and demographics land on the creepy side.

Ranking various digital services from cool to creepy, the survey of 1,016 consumers conducted in April found:

  • Facial recognition identifying your age and gender to display targeted advertisements on digital screens: 73% creepy;

  • A salesperson greeting you by name when your mobile device triggers your entrance in-store: 74% creepy.

  • Facial recognition technology identifying you as a high-value shopper to a sales associate: 75% creepy.

Yet the latest thing in retail seems to be installing more technology to do what well trained salespeople used to do – remembering the likes and dislikes of their best customers.

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Topics: Retail Sales, Customer Service, Technology

Customers Come To Buy. Don’t Let Them Walk Without Being Sold

Bob Phibbs

Imagine cooking a recipe and then leaving the food in the pan without serving it.

That would have wasted your time…

Lazy or untrained employees do a similar thing to your customers - by not selling them and instead just wasting their time.

Recently RetailWire reposted a blog of mine, How To Help Associates Conquer Their Selling Fears. It was presented as a discussion so experts could share their opinions.

Chris Petersen, President of Integrated Marketing Solutions, questioned, “Do today’s customers want to be SOLD something?”

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Topics: Customer Service, Retail Sales Training, selling tips

How To Avoid Hearing A Customer’s “No, I’m Just Looking” Ever Again

Bob Phibbs

Were you ever picked by a teacher to come up in front of class when you weren’t prepared to speak?

It felt like hell, I bet.

There’s an area of your retail store potential customers will avoid; it is the first eight feet after your doors. Some call it the decompression zone, some call it the threshold area—it should be called The Hell Zone.

The Hell Zone because shoppers don’t want to go there. They might remember a past experience where an aggressive employee pounced on them wanting to shake their hand. Or they might remember another employee asking them a question, when all they wanted to do was get their bearings.  They had to blurt out a No just to get rid of the pesky employee.

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Topics: Retail Sales Training, customer experience, selling tips, Hell zone

4 Retail Sales Training Techniques to Reinvent the Customer Experience

Bob Phibbs

Retail salespeople are the public face of the company, the front lines of customer relations, and they define the company for everyone they encounter.

Their training determines how a retailer is viewed.

The limits of these instructional programs create a front line force that is poorly informed, inconsistent, and most importantly lacking in confidence.

That’s why you see so many associates stacking merchandise and staying behind the counter-away from customers.


For training to be effective, it must be part of an ongoing process of improvement.

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Topics: Customer Service, Retail Sales Training, Employee Management

How To Correct The 5 Biggest Salesperson Turnoffs For Retail Customers

Bob Phibbs

Untrained retail employees often think merchandise sells itself.

That if a customer wants something, they’ll tell you. To those employees, I offer that selling in many ways is like dating.

You have to get a stranger to like you before they will ever commit.

That is why customers shop with a salesperson. If they would rather avoid yours when they come to your brick and mortar store, they’ll stay at home and shop online.

I don’t want that for you...

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Topics: Sales Training, Customer Service, Retail Sales Training, Employee Management

Retail Selling Tip: How To Open A Window Of Contact

Bob Phibbs

If you're looking to increase your sales, it will only come from mastering retail selling.

And that can be hard...

In the old days sales people knew how to be friendly because they were treated better in stores than they were on the street.

Nowadays with reality TV where everyone sees others belittled and the sitcoms where everyone is a wisecracking cynic, everyone is seeing the worst behavior modeled. Interacting with people has become harder and our sales associates have few positive role models to guide them.

As a result, the art of being friendly has disappeared from most retail.

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Topics: Retail Sales Training, selling tips

How to Conquer Your Selling Fears

Bob Phibbs

I was talking to a pool builder about a client who had put in a new pool.

His client lived in a very expensive neighborhood, drove a Bentley; you get the picture.

A few months later the client’s neighbor installed a pool too … from a different pool builder.

The Bentley guy went to his neighbor’s party and saw his pool; it had all the bells and whistles, a salt water chlorinator, fiber optic lights, and an automatic pool cover.

He drove back to his builder and asked why he didn’t show him all the possibilities.

I was afraid I would price myself out of the sale, he replied.

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Topics: Retail Sales Training, retail employee, selling

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