Trying to increase retail sales in a quiet retail store is impossible...
I can tell a great retail store just by listening. Can't you?
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 it something that can be forced or trained?
Which is why I've avoided writing this post for awhile. 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 isn't achieved with a Groupon, another Friends and family day or tax-free promotion.
Laughter shows a customer has found a real person. Open, engaging, engaged.
At a recent conference, I heard alot about companies who are "coaching" all their employees on the floor.
At the expense in one case, of reducing their core sales training from 3 hours to 90 minutes - per year.
Or from another retailer who used tablets to dump all their call center information into the hands of their associates to help them quickly wait on a customer. The constantly mentored these employees to be the same to everyone they encounter.
I don't hear a lot of laughter in those stores.
Why? Becuase it assumes there is a right sales person. A right way people want to be dealt with.
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 what we want, we rarely truly ask for.
As customers, we start the conversation with what we need. That's where the sloppy clerks thrive - filling the needs like a point-and-click on the web.
To get past that and the countless articles your customers can find on the web, something like "5 Ways to Buy Cheap And Strip Any Profit From Your Local Retailer" will require retail employees who can be allowed to be themselves.
Your employees must be comfortable on your sales floor. Not worrying someone is looking over their shoulder looking to "mentor" away their personal style into a lifeless, joyless clone.
They should be creating laughter with the people in front of them, the ones they are serving. Not between themselves or on the phone but with the customers.
When people ask me to evaluate a business I can tell just by listening for the laughter. Can you?