How To Increase My Retail Sales: Realize It’s Not All About You
By Bob Phibbs
This past week I was interviewed for a CNBC story on how CareerCast says working retail is one of the worst jobs you could have. The justification that stood out for me was, “Standing on your feet for long hours, working with irate customers and bad pay are not uncommon.”
In short, it sucks to work retail.
I said, "It's an easy can to kick. I know guys making $150,000 a year selling at retail, on their feet 40 hours a week. If you look at many of today's CEOs, they are able to trace important lessons of their success back to their early days working retail or restaurant jobs.”
TI would add that the only job skills that won’t be outsourced or Uber-ized or done by robots will be the soft skills of how to talk to another human being. These skills are best learned when selling retail. And yet, until and unless someone learns those skills, they will think they are the centers of the universe.
And centers-of-the-universe-people are unemployable, and definitely unadvanceable, no matter the industry.
And yet many times when I speak with retailers, they can be stuck thinking it is all about them.
Several love to tell me that there ought to be laws about MSRP or competition or that the (fill in the blank – government, trade association, redevelopment district, Chamber of Commerce, Mayor) need to do something to make them successful.
In short, how it sucks to be them.
I reply that it is up to them to to think about the customer first and what they are doing for someone else. Unless and until they do that, a focus on such things just makes them feel hopeless.
When they focus on the customer in front of them and make it all about them, the world beats a path to their doors.
Every retailer has to earn it.
Which brings me to your salespeople. I was talking with a reporter the other day about fitting rooms and why men don’t shop. I said because 99% of the time the clerk doesn’t do anything to engage us, connect with us, or make us feel smarter as customers. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that a pant too short will make the wearer’s legs look shorter, a jacket must comfortably rest in the crease of the palm of your hand, that just because a shirt is comfortable, doesn’t mean it looks good on you.
The salesperson needs to have enough retail sales training to take ownership of the process and see what it would feel like to be that customer.
It means taking time with the customer. It means working for the customer.
When you see things as a customer, you understand that customer. You see opportunities to suggest an add-on, not only so you can get a bigger sale but because you really believe they will be happy with it.
This past week I was speaking in Englewood, NJ and wanted to do an impromptu Facebook Live video interview of a business person. Nausil Zaheer quickly piped up and told about his journey to create Karma Organic Spa.
You can watch it below.
Notice, he took pieces of his own life story and looked for a way to help others like him; he began his business focused on his customer. No wonder he’s doing so well – it’s still not all about him.
Retail sales is the best job for anyone to learn it is not all about themselves...whether that is the retail salesperson who has to learn the soft skills of selling, or the shop owner who has to learn that their success rests solely on their own shoulders and not allow excuses to avoid the hard work of making someone else’s day - every day.
And when you master the fact that you are not the center of the universe, you can do anything - have a thriving retail business, be a great retail salesperson, become CEO. Without it, you’ll struggle.
Instead of asking questions why someone else isn’t doing their part, why the deck seems stacked against you, why you have fewer customers – change your focus.
Ask yourself better questions, What if I get off my phone and genuinely engage a stranger? What if I put myself in someone else’s shoes first?
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