How To Sell Retail: SW, SW, SW, N

By Bob Phibbs

retail selling tips

Wondering how to sell better in your retail store? Begin with looking at your attitude towards selling...

Do you think everyone who sells anything is like some carny at an amusement park?

That selling means you are pushy, aggressive, and that you have to size up a customer either a sucker or a tire-kicker?

That the salesperson needs the customer more than the customer need the salesperson?

If so, the truth is everyone hates that type of approach.

You hear it when customers reference used-car salesman, or say, "He could sell ice to Eskimos," or compare them to "Insurance salesmen, I don't trust the lot of 'em." But most salespeople are not like that, Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman or Danny Devito's character in the 1987 film Tin Men.

Retail salespeople know that it is a balance between talking and listening, presenting the product and matching to the customers' wants. They know they have to build trust first, not after the sale.

Remember the old American Express holiday radio commercials in the 80's? The couple were shopping in a busy store trying to get attention and finally held up their AMEX card to get service. That's not selling, that's opportunism; you treat the customer special because you know they're going to buy.

But not everyone you meet will want to buy from you today.

And not everyone you think is just looking, truly is. That's what led me to the sales formula for retail salespeople: SW, SW, SW, N.

Some will, some won't, so what? Next!

See also, How Retailers Can Sell On Value Over Price 

Retail selling is like a game

Being a salesperson is a lot like being a baseball pitcher. The more you pitch strikes, the more likely you are to duplicate them. The greats know the only way to do better is practice how they approach the pitch. With sales it is also a game, the more customers you meet, the better your skills, the more likely you are to close the sale on a regular basis.

But it starts with genuinely wanting to both meet people and move merchandise. Without both traits, you can have the nicest guy in the world who never gets around to moving the merchandise because they talk so much. This irritates owners and customers alike. And if he only looks at you with dollar signs in your eyes, you feel empty and used because they "sold" you something (you tell yourself) you didn't need.

The only way to build trust these days is to slow down and focus, silence your judgements, open your eyes and see there is one individual in front of you. Not a prospect. Not a "guest." An individual. Only if we can afford ourselves the luxury of making a connection before we try to move the merch, will we have any hope of making a sale.

Yes you can find out at the register their daughter goes to the same school as you. But that's too late. Yes, you can share an amusing tale of putting together your own kids' bicycle for their birthday while they sign the credit card slip. But that's too late.

Yes you can followup with a handwritten thank you note. But if you didn't establish trust with your attention to them at the beginning, it rings hollow and is a waste.

Searching for ways to convert more lookers into buyers?

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