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Selling Skills: How To Close A Retail Sale

closing the saleIt’s probably the most common question retailers ask, “How can I get my salespeople to close a sale?”

There are scads of sales books written, thousands of selling phrases to tie-down a customer, and hundreds of approaches out there to force a commitment and close a sale.

Which, if you could match each closing technique with the perfect situation, probably would reliably work.

The trouble is, there is no perfect close because there are no perfect customers and no perfect selling situations.

But there is some information I can share with you…

You probably are having trouble closing the sale because you are approaching selling as a logical process. That if you could just get the customer to analyze the situation, they’d realize you had the perfect solution to their problem. Continue reading Selling Skills: How To Close A Retail Sale »

Hiring Smarter: Creating Music in Retail

retail sales trainingHiring is always tough for a retail store.

As the economy improves, every retailer should look at upgrading their employees. That means hiring smarter employees as well as cutting out dead wood.

The trouble is, the odds of hiring a keeper are about 50/50.

That’s because a new employee’s success is determined less by their interview and more by the past skills they’ve collected. Their true success with you then lies with who and how you train them and with whom they will work.

One thing I’ve noticed in my many years of hiring the best salespeople, is that many of them are singers.  That’s right, and not just any singers…choral singers.

I was thinking about all the professional people I know who once sang in choirs.  They have a common thread of seven skills that singing encouraged and here’s why…

Rehearsals – While choral singers meet on a regular basis to go over and over music to get it right, they often have to work on a piece on their own to learn their specific part.
Skill: Practice.

Languages – Choral singers often have to give meaning and emotion to lyrics in different languages.  That means they have to create a feeling before they ever sing a note.
Skill: Empathy.

New music- The music never sounds right on the first read-through.  Singers have different abilities, and getting them to all sing on the same page takes practice. They have to be open to making mistakes in front of others with their most personal asset they have – their voice.
Skill: Humility.

Focus – If the bass section already has their part down, they have to be able to stay engaged while the second sopranos struggle to get the harmony. The basses have to stay ready in case the director says, “OK, everybody at letter B.” Singers in the choir have to be open to be hearing and letting other people make mistakes.
Skill: Patience.

Blend – Choral singers are not a bunch of soloists looking for the spotlight. They are a community of singers who want to come together and do something they could not do alone.
Skill: Teamwork

Listening – Singers have to listen to the conductor’s feedback about their performance again and again, each time striving to do better.
Skill: Continuous Improvement.

Performance – While there are conductors who say they like to rehearse, I’ve never found a choir that does; for them, it is all about performing.  There really is no description for the triangle that forms between the conductor and the choir, the choir and the audience, the audience and the conductor – all of them contribute to the shared temporary experience.
Skill: Showtime.

One more thing…

I sang in the Glendale High School Acappella choir. The director, Roy Klassen had chosen a work by Johannes Brahms, Der Abend. The first time we sang it, we were awful. Roy patiently went over the words, which translated in part, “The fields thirst for refreshing dew; the people languish, the steeds are weary- let the chariot sink down!”

He went over and over it, trying to get a bunch of high school kids to understand how it feels first to be parched and then refreshed by the dew.  He went over the lines to get the poetry. He had us tell in our own words what the text meant. The night it was to be performed, he spent another 15 minutes during warm-ups to get us to sound like the start of evening.

I think we nailed it. We certainly felt we did.

That’s because the conductor exuded positive belief and confidence we would indeed get it.

And that’s the final piece for you to understand, that you need the director’s skill of giving confidence and encouragement.

When you have that, you can mold any group of employees into a powerhouse. If you don’t have managers who can do that, you end up with chaos.

In Sum

In a world of texting and status updates, I find a world of retail employees in need of voice lessons.  Many live and move about the world unable to sing their own song in a free and easy fashion that encourages others to not only hear, but share their own voices.

Hiring smart should start with looking for choral singers and then finish with your managers’ recognition that they are here to create music with your employees and customers… and not sing a solo or silence others.

When you do that, you will attract customers and employees who will sing your praises over and over again.

Is Working Retail Bad For Your Health?

retail sales trainingA retail salesperson asked me, “Is working retail bad for your health?”

My quick answer, was to say “no.”

I mean, a salesperson in retail is not like a salesperson selling door-to-door or selling tin siding…

However, as a retail expert, I realized that answer doesn’t give the question the consideration it deserves. Continue reading Is Working Retail Bad For Your Health? »

Retail Sales Training About Assumptions Of Customers

retail sales training assumptions


Are you concerned you’re not making as many sales in your store as you once did?

Are you attracting customers who tell you, “What a beautiful store you have“? as they walk out the door empty-handed?

A lot of times the assumptions we make about customers could easily be killing your retail sales.

We’ve all done it.

A guy comes in dressed in a three-piece suit, or a woman arrives in an expensive dress or she’s got a beautiful necklace on maybe she has rock on her finger that could sink a boat – it doesn’t matter.  You’ve judged them.

How about the high school girl that walks in looking kinda dorky? How about the construction worker still in uniform with dirty boots? Did you also made a judgment about them?

You bet you did!

The problem is that a lot under assumptions we make are wrong.

Watch the video above to learn a fun game you can do with your crew to challenge the assumptions they – and we all make – about strangers.

Once you deal with the assumptions employees are making about your customer, they can really be a human being greeting another human.

From that, you can increase your retail sales.

Again, watch the video.

5 Pitfalls of DIY Retail Sales Training in Your Store

pitfalls of retail trainingWhile I love to speak to retailers and train them how to sell better in their stores, I have another passion for fixing up old houses.

The first bathroom I remodeled, I decided to tile the tube walls myself and add a tin ceiling. The tin panels were 4’ x 8’ and when doing it yourself (DIY,) it is next to impossible to get flush, straight and looking like the ceiling I expected. Tiling a wall is not something for a first project as they slip and slide easily. While I finished it, I was always keenly aware I didn’t have the skill, time or inclination to do it right – rather I just wanted to get through it.

I learned without the proper experience, it’s almost impossible to foresee, and avoid, all of the pitfalls of a DIY project.

Retailers have been treating retail sales training as a DIY project for decades, often with the same lackluster results. DIY training doesn’t fail due to ignorance or laziness, but due to a lack of experience and organization.

Five pitfalls of DIY training in your retail store:

Dusty Training Manuals

If you look around long enough in the back room of a retail store, you’ll eventually run across a bookshelf full of “training material.” These 3-ring binders are chock full of outdated materials that are either too complex to be intelligible and actionable, or too simplified to be of any use. Worse yet, if you dig some more, you may find some old VHS tapes that trainees are expected to find the time to watch. Of course, these outdated video training tools feature actors performing retail sales tasks under ideal conditions, so their training value is limited.

One thing that all of these training materials usually have in common is a healthy layer of dust. That’s because your employees either don’t know they exist, or do and have avoided using them. Either way, the standardized training materials are left on the shelf and your employees end up being trained on an ad hoc basis.

Blind Leading the Blind

Without a train-the-trainer program to follow for your retail store, how are your employees being trained? They’re learning from the employees that came before them. And those employees learned from previous employees. Each new generation of employees is getting a more-diluted version of the original training. Even the best training probably has little or no resemblance to the original program you set up. It’s like making a copy of a copy of a copy. With each iteration, the lines get a little more blurred, the process gets a little more faded, and the end result is unrecognizable.

No Time

When things are busy, your floor staff won’t have time to properly train a new salesperson. When things are slow, there’s usually a cutback in staff and no one to teach the new salesperson. Your staff is left with a difficult decision—they can try to administer training during busy periods, jeopardizing their own performance or they can leave the newbie employee to sink or swim on their own, jeopardizing your business. Either way, the trainee is unlikely to properly learn much-needed skills, and the trainer is likely to end up frustrated. For a brick and mortar retail business that lives or dies on the performance of its salespeople, neither is a good outcome.

Overpaid Training

If your floor staff doesn’t have the time to administer training, that leaves it up to your managers. This puts the highest-paid members of your staff out on the floor, teaching someone how to stock merchandise or ring up purchases. You promoted your managers because they could handle the most important responsibilities in your retail store—now you have them performing basic training. That’s not a good use of their time, or your money. Retail sales training e-learning lets trainees learn basic tasks quickly and efficiently, without pulling your managers away from greater responsibilities.

Luck of the Draw Training

This happens far too often in a retail sales environment. Your new employee gets paired with whoever happens to be working when they start their first shift. This is often random, and done without considering the overall abilities or attitude of the person doing the training. What if you’ve just paired the trainee with someone who never got to complete their own training? Or, worse yet, what if you’ve paired them with a disgruntled employee who’s just counting minutes until they find another job? You could unknowingly be creating two poorly trained salespeople with attitude problems. And, as luck would have it, they may go on to train other people themselves!

How to avoid these pitfalls?

Retailers are making these mistakes, and suffering the consequences, every day – often more than once a day. To avoid these pitfalls, and the problems they can cause, consider online retail sales training for your sales staff.


Because your sales crew gets the same training every time. My SalesRX.com online retail sales training program certifies your crew that they know all the material and will use it – making your training and HR issues much easier. The fact it is raising conversions by as much as 30% is a bonus.