How Employees Selling With Their Own Wallets Are Killing Your Retail Sales
By Bob Phibbs
Let’s be honest, a lot of people are afraid of retail salespeople. For that matter, they are afraid of anyone who says they sell something.
Most people like the illusion that somebody is not selling them but just helping them.
As a retail expert and sales trainer, I can tell you that everyone is selling every single waking moment.
You’re selling your husband that he should be the one to take out the trash.
Your students are selling you when they convince you they deserve a better grade.
Anyone who has gotten a loan, a job, or a date has had to sell someone on themselves.
They didn’t educate the other person. They sold. Their belief in the product sold you.
Likewise, if you felt you wouldn’t get the job, you sold them on how you didn’t deserve it. And you weren’t hired.
Selling is nothing more than a transference of feeling.
If you were too afraid to talk to the girl or guy, you sold them on your lack of friendliness.
Now if you’re trying to grow your retail sales, you have to believe in what you sell or you’ll never sell it.
The conversion problems plaguing department stores, most every franchise, and independent retailers often starts with employee attitudes toward selling.
Sure Amazon's net sales last year rose 31% to $177.9 billion, but you can’t shut them down; all you can work on is your own four walls.
Your employees and their training (or lack thereof) have allowed a cancer to grow on salesfloors across the world - the employee selling to the customer with their own wallet.
That means the employee bases all their recommendations on the amount in their own wallet.
Their attitude implies, “I wouldn’t pay that and of course you shouldn’t either.”
It leads to bottom-up selling where the employee, trying to educate the customer, starts with the entry level product and says, “This is all you really need.”
And that’s what is leading to fewer sales and less profit.
It’s great to teach your associates how to become friends with a customer because it builds trust. But with that trust, customers can be very susceptible to what the salesperson says to influence them.
A customer might really be taken by the Audi which when you open the door shines the Audi logo brightly on the ground so you can see where you’re stepping.
A salesman may not think it is worth the cost of the option but they make their job twice as hard when they tell a customer, "You don’t need that option.” Customers will often move heaven and earth to buy something that has some benefit an employee doesn’t value or think is important.
Customers come in with their wallets full, ready to spend on just the right item...
On a particular fabric that only comes on this luxury model.
On a hotel room with a view of Central Park with a balcony.
On a top-of-the-line refrigerator with an iPad interface and Internet access built-in.
Every store carries items that demand top price and those that are less expensive.
If some of your employees have decided many features of your premium products are not worth it, they won’t try to sell them.
But to a premium customer, those little features make all the difference in the world. They have the money and want to spend it.
The shirt that is single-needle stitched to be more comfortable to the skin even after repeated laundering…
The jacket with the floating chestpiece that conforms to your body and fits better with time…
The shoes with the analine dye which gives a deeper color and stays easy to polish…
These tangibles are what makes the sale to the customers who want them.
You can’t allow associates to tell those customers that these features are useless.
You can’t let those associates just try to friend your customer. If they do, they’ll limit their customers’ buying and kill your business.
Do you have employees who are using their own wallets for your customers?
What to do
Pick five products that are slow sellers. Ask your employees why they think those items don’t sell. I’ll bet dollars to donuts they feel they are not worth the money. If you have to, just hold up an item and ask them point blank, “Do you think it’s worth the money?”
Don’t be surprised by their answers and don’t think giving them more product knowledge will help.
You have to go further to their definition of what makes something worth its price.
You can't expect them to be able to afford all of your premium items but don't let that stop you from training! They can always make a better sale by adding something like, "I wish I could afford that" or, if it's true, "I'm saving up to get one myself"- anything is better than dismissing a product's unique features as unnecessary.
You could also use this exercise as the basis for a store meeting or during an employee review for ones struggling with UPT and average sale.
There’s only one way a brick and mortar retailer in 2018 is going to be successful, that’s having a laser focus on what their employees bring to the stranger who on this particular day, was willing to leave their house, find parking, and walk into your business to treat themselves.
Every shopper loves to discover something new, something that makes a product unique, easier to use and, for them, fun.
Don’t let an employee on your floor kid you that they know what customers want. And that all they want is the cheapest.
Every customer is unique. Every product should be unique. Every premium product is worth its price.
Without retail sales training, you have leagues of untrained employees hating selling, hating retail, hating goal setting, buying with their wallet and choking off your cash flow.
With retail sales training like my SalesRX system, an employee is challenged to learn that selling is not vampirey or phony.
They learn there is a process that allows them to learn about each individual customer that allows that customer to comfortably spend as much money as they want from their own wallet.
And if you're looking to sell more of your merchandise than discount it, let's have a conversation about how I can help your employees - the ones looking for answers on this blog every day - grow your sales.
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