11 Ways Your Retail Employees Convert Buyers Into Lookers And Sabotage Your Sales

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training sabotage conversion customersWe’ve heard the drumbeat for awhile now, traffic is down in brick and mortar retail stores. The browsing is now done prior, online.

So when someone actually walks through your doors having left Amazon and the rest behind, they are more likely to buy.

Although you can’t turn all lookers into buyers, I’ll bet the behaviors of your untrained retail employees is actually turning buyers back into lookers.

How do they do that? By the way they interface with customers…

Customers come in with the desire to buy something for themselves or someone else. It feels good to buy something. Whether that is a $50K watch or a $5 latte, exchanging money for product is primal.

When an unthinking employee either ignores the customer, tries to control the customer, or pushes a customer’s buttons due to their own need of feeling in control, they pour water on that customer’s intent to buy.

As a result, those shoppers, who wanted to be buyers, walked out empty-handed... to start looking again...somewhere else...online...without the hassle.

Many years ago, I wanted to get the new Cadillac El Dorado. I’d seen one in an ad and thought it was the coolest coupe ever. It made my Ford Thunderbird look like trash. This would be my first luxury car. I walked into the Cadillac dealer and asked, “Can I see the new El Dorado?” When he showed me the dark Polo green one, I knew it was for me.

“What makes this one so special?” I asked. “It has a Northstar engine,” he answered. I assumed it could run. I was taken aback. His curt response that did nothing to engage me resulted in my feeling stupid. I left shortly thereafter and found my Polo coupe at his competitor’s. One who understood what a great feeling this opportunity was for me.

Impossible to turn customers away in your store, you say?

Consider these 11 employee behaviors that can transform buyers into browsers:

1. An employee - standing either on the sales floor, or worse, standing near the entrance - with their hands locked behind their back, like they’d just been arrested. Nothing turns off shoppers more than seeing that person's stance that yells I’m bored. Keep your hands at your sides and engage.

2. An employee’s need to be right is a bigger turnoff than bad breath. Customers never forget how you made them feel. Product knowledge is one thing, but the need to be right breeds condescension. Bite your tongue if you need to, smart aleck, but don’t rain on a customer’s excitement.

3. An employee’s messy appearance: a wrinkled shirt and rushed-out-the-door look shows disregard for the shopping environment. Customers buy from people who look professional, not homeless. Have some self-respect.

4. Being passionate about just the one brand a salesperson uses makes the customer feel they would be stupid to buy something else.  Even if it is something they came in to buy. Well-rounded employees sell more. Period.

5. Telling a customer that’s not on sale today implies there is a better time to buy, and any customer who purchases it today would be a chump.  Don’t determine when someone will buy what they want.

6. A clerk who is social media obsessed feels customers are a distraction. Put. Down. The. Phone.

7.  An employee who is quickly trying to qualify every shopper as either a tire-kicker or hot to trot puts pressure on every customer they come in contact with. Shoppers can feel it, especially if they aren’t deemed worthy of the employee’s help, so they avoid engaging any employee. Slow down there, Speed Racer.

8. A salesperson, apathetic about what they are selling, is unable to share someone else's excitement about buying. Empathy builds sales.

9. An employee with a disorganized sales process can make the customer feel like they have to do all the work. That’s tiring and irritating, no matter what the shopper came in to purchase that day. Have a process from greeting to I’ll take it.

10. An air of low-self worth and neediness leads to employees who are energy vampires. Let’s face it, not everyone belongs on the sales floor. When employees need to be validated by a stranger because they aren’t validated by their managers or family, it’s time to look at your hiring process.

11. Employees who vomit fact after fact. Author David Mamet famously stated, “The audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned in to watch drama.”

See also The 5 Stupidest Questions To Ask Shoppers 

In Sum

It's not like your crew are trying to turn people off, I'm sure it is just the opposite. But without retail sales training to see things from a customer's experience with an individual, they sabotage your sales efforts.

Use these tips to convert more shoppers to customers in your store. 

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