Are Your Retail Sales Techniques Killing Conversion Rates By Making Customers Wary?

By Bob Phibbs

increase retail conversion rate

My client in Houston had ordered a town car to bring me to their office; a nice luxury perk. As he navigated the freeways, the driver quickly changed lanes as he cut in and out of traffic. 

He would speed up to the bumper of the car in front of him and then hit the brakes.

If he had been driving his own car, that probably would have been OK.

But he wasn't, he was driving a limo.

That meant I was bouncing around in the back like a ball. My time with that driver should have passed without feeling the effects of inertia in my stomach.

But it didn't...

The ride was anything but luxury. It was anything but restful and it was anything but pampered.

I kept looking at my watch in hopes of getting away from the experience.

Customers are like that too.

You don't want to do anything that makes them aware of the time they've spent with you.

Your goal in retail sales is to get a stranger to trust you and forget time.

When you do that well…

Time. Stands. Still.

They enjoy the ride so to speak and are more inclined to open their wallets.

A server in a restaurant who doesn’t pick up the plates quick enough makes the diner aware of all the food they have eaten. Telling that guest that someone didn’t show up today does nothing to ease that problem. The guest becomes impatient due to the server.

Many in retail too have no idea how they telegraph time. 

Here are three ways salespeople make customers wary of their time which affects conversion rates:

fitting room tips for retailToo many items. A salesperson who leaves every choice of clothing in the dressing room, on the table or in the shoppers' hands telegraphs – you still haven’t made up your mind. The shopper moves from excited at all the choices to how long have I been here?

What to do instead: When something doesn't work, get it out of view of the customer. Put the misses back in the case, behind your back or on the rack. Make it a choice of two from many. When they do decide, take the item from them, fold it on the counter, or write the order.

Too much information. Without retail sales training, a salesperson often defaults to what features they like about a product, not thinking about what the shopper is interested in. That leads to the salesperson spewing feature after feature which wears the customer down. A shopper might just want a cool glass of lemonade because it tastes good, not because they have low vitamin C, work on a boat somewhere and are trying to avoid scurvy. But the salesperson might want to give them all those features anyway. When it feels like work to buy a product, that feeling frequently causes customers to look at their watch or smartphone. And leave without deciding anything.

What to do instead: Use the rule of threes. No more than three features with three benefits specific to that customer. No more; no less.

making lines go faster in retailProblems at checkout. When lines don't move smoothly shoppers panic, How long is this going to take? Out comes the smartphone to check the time, then tweet their frustration. And finally to leave without buying.

What to do instead: Make sure to train anyone at the register to be accurate and speedy, of course. If something slows the line down, they must know to call someone to help, apologize for the wait without excuses, empathize but most of all hustle. 

See also, Stop Trying To Speedily Close The Sale

In Sum

In all of these situations, problems arise when the salesperson is only looking at things from their perspective...the crush of customers, the facts they like of a product, or the wealth of choices their store can offer.

What they need to change in their retail sales techniques is to look at things from the shoppers' standpoint... it feels like forever that they've been in line, forever they've been in the store, forever they've been listening to that one employee.

As a retail sales trainer to some of the biggest brands in the world I can tell you, improving conversion rates starts from seeing things from the customer's experience.

You must create an exceptional experience for every shopper you meet or not only do you waste their lose the sale you could have made.

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