How To Get The Retail Sale Without The Hard Close

By Bob Phibbs

iStock_000059074784_Medium-yesI can’t tell you how many people have asked me to give a whole seminar filled with tricks on how to close a sale.

I won’t do it.

That’s because the sale goes way off track much earlier; thinking you can just fix it at the end is thinking much too late.  

Unless you want to muscle a customer into a sale, ruin your online reputation, and more often than not, have the item returned or charged back, closing techniques should be avoided.

I’ve written about how a poor greeting sets you up for a low close ratio. I’ve written about too much product information distancing a customer by making them feel stupid.

Today, I want you to look at the various conversion points in your sales process before you try closing a sale.

What is a conversion point? It’s where a customer goes from being disinterested to interested. From being passive to being active. From being silent to sharing.

When I teach sales training in person, I tell salespeople there are about five times a customer should figuratively raise their hand and say, Yes, I’m in or Yes, tell me more.  

I see it like a map from the minute they enter your store. There are several points where they have to show they are engaged or you’ll lose the sale.

When you understand where these conversion points are, you will make sure that you give your shopper every opportunity to raise their hands before going further in the sale.

These indications are necessary to confirm they are proceeding along the path to buying the item. For that reason, sometimes we refer to these points as buying signs.

When you fail to close a sale, you should unpack the encounter afterward. You will frequently find that the shopper didn’t raise their hand to learn more, to pick something up, or to ask questions.

People don’t buy unless they’ve given buying signs.

Even then, if you have a clueless salesperson who doesn’t know how to actively listen, they may not recognize those buying signs and just vomit some canned pitch with irrelevant information and thwart the sale.

On the other hand…

When your retail sales training identifies these conversion points, it helps the salesperson keep from winging it and helps them close more sales.

It also makes it a heck of a lot easier to mentor them.

Every person on your salesfloor needs to understand what these conversion points are and what they need to accomplish at each.

Here are some of the basics:

When they call your store

  • When someone calls, your goal is to convert the caller from asking questions on the phone to getting them to visit your store.

  • If you sell in-home, your goal when they call should still be to get them in the store first, rather than just going out to their home, so you can whittle down all your options to just a few. That way the time in the home is spent measuring and confirming. There’s simply no way of personalizing the experience when you are guessing what to bring and what will fit in your trunk.

When they are in your retail store

  • When a shopper is in your store, the goal is to convert them from a silent browser to an engaged shopper. A proper greeting encourages this. The goal is to get them from avoiding your help to agreeing to take a store tour.

  • Before you start to present the merchandise, you want the customer to convert from just asking about a specific product to telling you what they are trying to accomplish. Asking open-ended questions can help with this.

  • When the salesperson is showing the features and benefits of an item, the conversion goal is have the shopper hold it, feel it, or climb into it.  Your goal is to present as much relevant information that the shopper converts from considering an item to seeing in their home. Listen for questions about how to take care of something, about additional replacement parts, or about specific dimensions.

  • And of course the biggest conversion point is from shopper to buyer.

Your business may have more conversion points. The goal is to look for those moments and train on ways to get that shopper to raise their hand signifying they are liking what they are hearing, seeing, or feeling which all leads to the greatest conversion point, Yes, I’ll take it.

If you have no sales training, your customers’ experience is probably waiting to ask a question, getting shown a product, and maybe buying it.  And that’s a BIG maybe.

No wonder such stores have miserable conversion rates.

See also, Closing The Sale Techniques for Luxury Retail

In Sum

When you understand these conversion points, taking the shopper from disinterested and passive to active and engaged will happen more and more often. Your customers will easily see themselves owning your product.

That way, when they get to the critical point of buy it or leave it, the salesperson knows the customer will buy it because they’ve noted every conversion point the customer made during the sale.

And all of this with no obnoxious closing techniques...

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