The Secret To Better Selling in Retail Stores: Knowing To Notice Yourself

By Bob Phibbs

retail selling tipsThe selling problem for most retail salespeople isn’t the merchandise.

It’s noticing.

It’s listening.

It’s understanding language and personality type.

Old school sales training never had you observe something about the customer, witness some behavior or testify about your own life experiences.

You were taught to do the same thing to all customers and manage their relevant information to get them to open their wallets.

It wasn’t important to consider…

  • Why the customer asked for such a particular item...

  • Why they phrased their request just that way…

  • Why they were in your shop today when they could have been anywhere else...

We were taught to divorce our own experience as a customer in order to sell someone something.

No wonder so many people say they hate selling.

To become good at selling, you need to trust your own experiences as a customer in order to serve one. This doesn’t require any new skill; you’ve been doing it since birth.

To improve your sales techniques, notice the minutest of details of your own behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and voice when you shop. No one has to give you permission to notice these instincts, only you.

And once you notice your own actions, you discover how you can influence others. Did you avoid someone after they made you respond to their, “How are you today?” question? Then don’t do it when you talk to customers in your store.

Hate when you are ignored while waiting at the counter in a retail store? Then diligently watch the counter instead of straightening the widgets on the rack.

When you master these observation skills, you will be able to do whatever you want in life because people pay for perceptive people. Perceptive people have come to embrace their own voice and share openly with strangers.

Without having found this authentic voice, you remain one of the mute, the wounded, the cynical hoping for Prince (or Princess) Charming to rescue you from your current job, circumstance, life.

You never learn to notice - not even what truly interests you - much less share it with another human one-on-one. Yet that’s what companies are truly looking for in a great employee.

What you get from all this noticing is trust, ease and confidence that lets your mind truly concentrate on what makes every human interaction different.

When you sell like a pro, you know how each sentence fits to make the sale and what exact choices you made at different points during the sale. Those hidden choices provide a thoroughly satisfying shopping experience for the customer.

But that can only happen by being a fully engaged human being - noticing another human being in front of you.

This can be surprisingly hard to do...

When things go wrong, it takes noticing that as well.

I can’t tell you how many times when working one-on-one with retail salespeople and I ask them about where they are in the sale - they haven’t got a clue. They have been so used to vomiting the same useless drivel, have sold in the same way for so long, in the exact same boring, repetitive way, they are oblivious.

Like a snowplow after a storm, they just want to push the customer out of their way to get to the end; then repeat it again.

I know many who just “wing it.” They think the five parts to a sale diminishes their unique abilities. When they try it, their self-consciousness thwarts the process and they say it is “too hard.”

That’s ridiculous...

Talking to someone is natural.

Every customer is different.

You must be different with every customer.

You must notice how they are an individual.

As much as you can, articulate what you have in common.

And just because you struggle with some retail customers doesn’t mean they are all one way or another.

It’s just the nature of the beast.

But when customers don’t buy from you, it’s hard - especially if you work on a bonus or commission program.

But instead of saying it’s all the customer’s fault, let’s just admit that many times someone didn’t buy because…

There was a lack of confidence in the product or salesperson’s abilities.

You as a salesperson failed to focus on that one person.

You jumped into features of the product before you established trust.

And that was because you feared or ignored that other person.

And kept forgetting to notice.

Or you told yourself they weren’t going buy anyway, because you wouldn’t buy it either.

And ultimately, it comes down to not trusting yourself to be able to show up as a real person and meet another person.

Selling doesn’t just happen. Unless you’re discounting. Then you’re not really selling, you’re playing Santa Claus.

See also, The Pro's and Cons Of Different Types Of Training

In Sum

Sales must be created, discovered, encouraged, constructed.

What happens when you do that?

You find a variety of emotions, instances, stories and nuances in your customer reaction – even humor. And humor is great because it comes from honesty.

You have to sell every time, any time, under any conditions – whether that’s when it’s just you and a customer looking for an expensive gift , or you’re waiting on five people at once, or it’s the first sale of the day.

All you need to do is show up as a human being each and every time.

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