A shared laugh in a store makes everyone relax. Laughter while shopping and selling lets us lower our defenses and opens us. I can tell a great retail store just by listening. Can't you?
When both shoppers and associates are having fun, it can be appealing to everyone in the store.
When you are trying to increase retail sales, it isn't just about what you hear, it can be what you don't hear...
One of the outcomes we find when conditions are right in a retail store is that people are:
And laughter ensues.
The sound of joy, acceptance, and yes...
Making the sale.
Laughter as in an easy joke, an aside, or gentle kidding. I've seen the best salespeople deliver it in spades in a variety of sales situations.
Is laughter something that can be forced or trained?
This is why I've avoided writing this post for a while. I can hear the Analytical personality styles now, "So are we supposed to learn a bunch of jokes and use them on everyone?"
But I am saying, if you make a great hire, train them well, encourage them to not be a robot by saying the same thing to everyone, you'll find laughter on your sales floor.
And laughter is one of the most powerful ways to surprise and delight customers.
Nope, surprise and delight aren't achieved with a discount, another Friends and Family day, or tax-free promotion.
Laughter shows a customer has found a real person. Open, engaging, engaged.
I haven't heard a lot of laughter in most stores - and that was pre-pandemic.
After nearly thirty years as a luxury sales trainer, I can tell you this much about retail sales training; it still has a lot of mystery around it.
That's because what people say they want, and what they really want are often two different things.
As customers, we start the conversation with what we need. That's where the sloppy clerks thrive asking, "Can I help you?" - seeking to fill the stated needs like a point-and-click on the web.
To get past that requires retail employees who can be allowed to be themselves. But that takes a foundation of building rapport first.
You don't joke with people you haven't built rapport with.
So how can you look for laughter? Some will say you need to have several funny stories to pull out at a moment's notice.
A seasoned professional may be able to do this, but not most people.
The key to using laughter is letting it start with the customer. When they are laughing, you can laugh and find other moments to make the laughter contagious.
Five quick rules to increase sales with laughter:
Listen for your customer to describe a situation or problem which makes them laugh.
Don't make fun of someone's nationality, looks, or background.
Keep it light, not dark.
Self-deprecating humor is always a good place to start.
If a joke doesn't land, and it might not, don't try to make your customer laugh by forcing a laugh yourself. Simply pivot back to the customer by asking a question.
And remember, the point of laughter is sharing a moment on the way to making a sale. Sometimes associates get caught up in trying to be funny which if kept at more than a few seconds, gets old and costs them the sale.
Selling the merchandise takes lots of tools and practice so the associate feels confident to engage a stranger.