Retail Sales Training: Clerking Merchandise Is Not Selling

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training clerking

Times are tough. Hard to find good help. Got it.

But wouldn't you think, if you were a retailer and wanted to make more money, you'd change your ways?

I'm talking about retail sales training.

I'm talking about waiting for customers to buy.

I'm talking about selling your merchandise and how your crew is or isn't doing it.

Here's how what I call, clerking goes:

Customer walks in. Employee yells across the counter, "How are you today? Looking for anything special?"

Customer looks around, after awhile asks employee, "Does this come in green?"

"It does right over here."

"I'll take it."

That is not selling.

In the retail world that would be about as much like selling as a guy walking into a Ford dealership, "Yeah, I'm looking for the Mustang GT 5-speed in grey with black seats." Then the salesperson says,"Right over here."

"I'll take it!" The customer says.

That is clerking.

A real sale would be if the guy came in for a Ford Focus and drove off in the Mustang because the salesperson found things in common and the customer opened up to him that he always wanted one since he was 16 in Toledo, Ohio and first saw it on the Ed Sullivan Show.

True selling is the whole tree, not just picking what you can reach without effort.

When a customer thinks they can't afford it, when the wife says "you better think about it," when the customer selects a product that won't do what they want - that is when selling makes the difference.

Selling isn't pushy, it's not cheap, it's the stuff of American business success.

When I was selling western wear in college at a store in the Santa Monica Place mall, I had a guy who came in to the store and immediately told me he needed a red shirt for a party.

"Why red?" I asked.
"My girlfriend told me to."

I showed him how red really wasn't a good color for his skin, shared the mistake I'd made getting one once and found a good blue shirt he would wear more than once to a party. He also got a pair of boots and jeans - about $300 in total.

He returned to me after he received a handwritten note from me thanking him for his purchase. He said, "You know, most people would have just gotten me the shirt and been done with it. But you took the time to educate me. Everybody said I looked so great, I should get more so I'm changing my wardrobe." With that he purchased thousands of dollars.

Low-hanging fruit would have been to clerk a $30 shirt.

See also, 9 Ways To Get Better At Selling

In Sum

You want to compete in a global marketplace?

Standout from a world that is overbuilt with power centers?

Have your luxury brand stand out from a point and click experience in your luxury boutique?

Reach higher. Hire salespeople. Encourage them to reach higher with every retail sale and not be happy clerking.

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