Time and time again, retailers return to this blog to learn how to sell more in retail. Yes, I have a lot of tips and tricks to increase sales, but none of them work unless customers purchase products.
You must have a culture of selling, especially during times - like we've experienced - of lower foot traffic.
These 10 retail sales techniques have proven invaluable to my clients.
Here's how to increase retail sales in 10 steps
1. Train your employees to be available and interruptible
Retail is becoming a job of tasks instead of a job of interacting with shoppers. Sales associates are often so busy trying to complete a task that they ignore shoppers obviously looking for help.
If you want them to have strong sales skills, train your sales staff that no task is that important, that customer purchases pay their salary, and unless they’re with a customer already, they should drop the task to help shoppers every time.
2. Train your managers to be the best salespeople on the floor
If managers themselves aren't trained to begin with, how will they be able to recognize, analyze, and give guidance when an associate loses a sale?
Only if managers understand how to make a sale, can they unpack a missed sale and say something like, “You got scared. Listen more and look for the windows of contact to customer engagement.” Then they will be able to help their team grow your sales.
3. Train your managers on how to coach their associates
Employees are being elevated to managerial positions not based on merit but more likely on how long they’ve lasted at your store. Too often it becomes the blind leading the blind.
Without proper retail sales training, they often think they can coach people with atta-boys and an occasional pizza. They also can’t lead by rolling their eyes and saying, "Don’t" over and over.
Both approaches can create a lot of wreckage for your employees who are left adrift.
Your managers must be trained on how and when to tell employees to change their behavior. That’s because employees, like most people, can’t see when they make a mistake. Or if they do see it, they won’t acknowledge it.
4. Retail training must be based on making a human connection
You have to bring employee skills up slowly. As you do that, you have to change the words you use in your retail space, the way you look at your customers, as well as the way you look at your employees.
When your managers can train and model listening over talking with shoppers, employees will see how that training makes them more human; especially when it comes to high-priced products.
Until that happens, they’ll think increasing sales in retail is all about the features when it is really about being more human and making connections.
5. When asking customers questions, ask one, not 20
We used to say the most important customer service skill for sales associates was the ability to ask questions, but that has changed.
Nobody likes being blasted with 20 questions; shoppers know they are being set up and hunted for ways to get the sale.
You can get the same or better information from them without playing 20 yes/no questions. Don’t ask multiple questions that begin with "Can I?" or "Are you?"
Instead, craft just one open-ended question like, "What’s your project today?" you can ask everyone.
6. Know how to think like your customer
A lot of bad sales advice essentially says, "Don’t start selling until they say no.” But that's thinking like a salesperson, not a potential customer.
Salespeople know how to sell in a general sense – unearth the problem, have a product as the solution to that problem, preempt objections, and understand the buying process.
What we don’t get when we think like a salesperson is what shoppers are really scared about, what motivates them, and what is going to assure them that you’re the right partner to get them what they want.
That takes thinking like a customer and being curious about why today did this person leave their life to come to our store?
7. Love the merchandise you hate
There are many products you yourself may not care for. But you need to come up with ways to look at how other people, not you, might take those products and use them to make their lives better.
It is a much better use of your time to keep asking yourself: "How can I find other ways to sell these products", than to just stare out the front doors looking bored?
8. Use your customer's name
There's a reason the Ritz Carlton requires employees to use a guest's name three times in a conversation, not two and not four. Why is it important to use a customer's name when you meet? It's because it works.
Using their name more than once works to make their guests feel important and to force the employees to commit their names to memory. Wherever you can get their name, use it.
Even if you get it wrong occasionally, most people will appreciate the gesture.
9. Modify your body language to an angle
Facing a shopper by standing directly in front of them can feel intimidating to them. Sales psychology training shows the best way to sell to someone is to stand side by side like buddies. This says, "Let's figure this out together."