How To Navigate The Complex Retail Sale And Increase Your Conversion Rate In Four Steps

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training ironing out wrinkles in selling processDo you ask a wall of questions before ever getting a customer excited about the possibilities in what you sell?

If so, I’ll bet it is affecting your conversion rate (the number of people you encounter divided by the number of times they purchased).

Such was the case when I went into a flooring retailer…

Me: I’m looking for a new wood floor.

Guy: Are you doing it yourself or are you using a contractor? Is your floor above grade or below? Are you looking for real wood, laminate, or vinyl? Do you have a budget?

He asked about six other questions, but my ears had stopped processing. All I could hear was my own voice, Boy are you unprepared – this is work. Let’s leave.

Such a wall of questions ultimately tumbles onto the unassuming customer making them feel stupid and foolish.

Are you doing that to your customer?

I’ll bet you are…

There are varying degrees of complexity to many sales in a store.

Maybe your customer needs to know what their dinner companion will be wearing because she wants a complementary look. She wants to look like a couple, not like two individuals.

Perhaps a contractor needs to be consulted for items in a new kitchen.

Maybe the doorway dimensions need to be known to make sure the dream couch will fit through it.

Like everything when it comes to retail sales training, there’s a way to get that information…and a way not to.  Let's iron out the wrinkles in your selling process...

Here are four tips for selling in retail to navigate a complex retail sale:

1) First and foremost -  create the vision of what your product can do for your shopper. This is the fun side. This is where you create wonder, where you encourage people to look, touch, and imagine.  Get them to fall in love with it first. Show options in different price ranges and styles. The important thing is to keep all of your options to sell wide-open, to show your customer all you have and all you can do for them.

2) Present each piece of information you need in bite-sized chunks.  While you may need a wall of information and only questions will help you build it, you need to build it brick by brick. Your goal is to reframe fearful into safe.

If you need the dimensions of a doorway for that couch, is there a way to approximate the size?

For example, you could ask Does it feel like an average doorway to walk through – not too tight? You could ask them to hold out their elbows at shoulder height and touch fists together and then ask, This is about the space we need – does that feel right?

If it does, you can move on. If there is still a question, you need to provide safety, so now you offer options. 95% of the time we can deliver through a doorway like that, if not we look to see if we can use a window.  In the rarest of cases, they’ll measure before bringing it in and if there’s no way it can be done, we’ll cancel the order. Sound good?Your goal in a complex sale is to keep the motion moving forward until you know the sale is dead. This keeps you from stopping a sale before it even starts.

3) Recap all of the possibilities that could throw the sale off by assuring the customer you’ve examined everything. To finalize the sale,  restate each brick of information once again. Remind them…

We’ve approximated the size of the ring;we’ve got the rose gold color she likes;we’ve got plenty of time to get it resized or let her pick out something else.

And always end by asking, Did I miss anything?

Again your goal is to anticipate their fear of the unknown and remove it to make the sale. You need to show them you have thought of everything - the things they’d thought of and the things they hadn’t - so they know they are in good hands.

4) Finish by making a personal request. Invite me to the wedding when she says yes.

I hope you’ll post a picture of your outfit online; I would love to see it.

Remember a party is a great way to show off your new furniture. Again, I’d love to see a picture of the fun.

See also, The 5 Words That Kill Your Sale

In Sum

A sale that is dependent on more than one factor can make untrained employees want to get all their questions out immediately. They don’t want to waste their customer’s – or more likely – their own time.

The problem with all of those questions for information is they front-load a potential sale with a bunch of heavy baggage. That makes the customer’s whole effort to buy an effort. You never want that to happen.

Customers want to spend money freely and not feel shamed that they didn’t come in armed with everything they needed to know.

When you keep your focus on creating a vision...and not a wall... you’ll make the complex sale simple. New Call-to-action

And after all, isn’t that what you’re paid to do? 

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