Updated January 18, 2024. Selling and how to sell are the most important skill sets for every retailer. Mastering effective selling techniques is crucial for driving sales and customer loyalty. Embracing personalized customer experiences can significantly enhance in-store interactions and sales outcomes.
What are retail selling techniques?
They are the orderly process of developing a connection between a shopper and a product through a human relationship on your sales floor.
Everyone sells - whether they call it that or not.
There's no thread of clothing you are wearing, a drop of coffee you are drinking, or a piece of furniture you are sitting on that wasn't sold to someone.
But there's a disturbing trend in retail since the pandemic where associates quickly lose a sale by saying, "You can order it online."
You will never get a better chance to make the sale than when someone is right in front of you looking at or holding your merchandise.
Even if you order for your customer on a tablet, the chance of a product return grows higher by the hour.
When you understand the selling behaviors and processes in a complete retail sales training program, you can handle objections and find add-ons for every sale.
That's what those who are winning customers during these times are doing.
Here are some quick ideas on how to improve retail sales...
11 retail selling tips to make more retail sales
1. Greet everyone with a smize
A warm and authentic greeting sets the tone for a positive shopping experience and reflects a customer-centric approach, essential for building lasting relationships.
It takes practice to lift the corners of your mouth until wrinkles appear around your eyes, but it is the best way to make a good impression when a shopper first encounters you.
2. Expect to be able to sell to everyone
Cultivating an optimistic and proactive attitude is key in today's retail environment, where creating memorable and personalized shopping experiences can significantly influence purchase decisions.
Before you clock in or step on the sales floor, stop yourself and do an expectation check. What are you concentrating on? Will customers be hostile, mean, lookie-loos, or will it be a fun day helping people buy from you?
One of the old sales pros used to say, "Garbage in, garbage out," so take care what you listen to or watch before coming to work as it might trap you into a negative world-view.
3. Dress to impress shoppers
In the context of retail branding, an associate's appearance can significantly reinforce brand values and ethos, enhancing the overall brand experience for customers.
Yes, you can wear sneakers, but no, you probably shouldn't.
"It's time to give up lazy dressing altogether because it's time to look fabulous again. Let's show each other and ourselves a little more respect. Let's put Saturday night effort into Sunday afternoon. Let's remember you get what you dress for, so let's get dressed."
Excellent points, and it's more than how you look. It's also how that makes you feel. And that translates into your demeanor on the sales floor.
4. Don't gossip about others
It is a fact that we love to talk about people. From the craziest internet stories to celebrity falls from grace, gossip is more popular than ever.
The danger is that it comes from a place where we feel better about ourselves at someone else's expense. That's the opposite of selling. You should feel better about someone due to them coming into your shop.
Fostering a respectful and inclusive store culture enhances team dynamics and positively impacts customer perceptions, which is crucial in building a reputable brand image.
5. Find something to like about any stranger
Effective retail associate sales techniques require liking people before they like you. I know this is hard, but you can't judge a book by its cover or a customer by their clothes. When we do that to try to decide who is worth our efforts, we're oftentimes wrong and settle for crumbs when we can have the whole banquet.
Embracing diversity and showing genuine interest in every customer aligns with the values of inclusive retailing, which is essential for catering to a broad customer base.
The act of serving another goes back to biblical times and is mentioned throughout literature as one of the greatest gifts to humanity. In retail, we often have sales staff acting as lords or ladies of the manor and doing the customer a favor. This is wrong.
In the age of omnichannel retail, providing exceptional service is key to differentiating in-store experiences from online shopping, adding value through personalized assistance and expertise.
7. Know your sales closing ratio
Keep count one day of every customer you encounter and every customer who buys. Divide the two to find your ratio of sales to visits. This gives you the sales you close compared to the number of presentations you make of merchandise.
At first, this might be one out of every ten. With practice, you'll find that you've made more sales by being aware of all the customers you had to sell to.
Leveraging data analytics to track sales performance can provide valuable insights for strategic improvements, aligning with the trend of data-driven decision-making in modern retail.
8. Sell something you hate
Find the ugliest one of your company's products you can. This shouldn't be hard. Determine five things you love about using the feature "it has" to link to the benefit for the customer "so you."
You'll find that once you give up your assumptions and personal bias, you can find several things and use suggestive selling to make a compelling case of why a customer should buy an item.
Developing product knowledge and versatility in sales approaches is crucial in today's diverse retail landscape, where catering to varied customer preferences can drive sales growth.
9. Learn how to sell more expensive items without discounting
It's 30% off and has free financing for 20 years. But something like that will sell itself - you're not stretching yourself. Increasing your product knowledge and retail sales training techniques will also increase sales.
Focusing on value-based selling and storytelling can enhance the perceived value of premium products, aligning with the trend of experiential luxury retail.
10. Be willing to risk the customer walking away without buying
Sometimes, things just aren't going well. The customer is at odds with you; it feels like you aren't on the same page. Ask, "Excuse me, but have I done something to offend you?"
If you say it without malice or sarcasm, most will apologize and give you a reason that has nothing to do with you. You're just frustrating yourself and the customer without getting that out of the way through.
If that continues, they are bound to leave without buying anyway, so why not risk getting it out of the way? By addressing it head-on, you oftentimes make the bigger sale.
Adopting a customer-first approach and actively seeking feedback can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, key factors in the success of customer-centric retail strategies.
11. Selling is a game you only partially control
Making a sale is very fluid; sometimes, you get lucky or don't, and other times, you make it happen.
The goal is to sell everyone, but lighten up; millions of orphans won't miss a meal because a customer walked out on you. Be able to look at a sale afterward and say, "I could have done this better." Take stock and then move on because you have another opportunity to shine walking in the door.
Embracing adaptability and resilience in the face of sales challenges is essential in this dynamic retail environment, where staying ahead of consumer behaviors and continuous learning is key to success.
Before the pandemic, it was easy to think associates could just wing it when trying to sell products worth a couple of bucks. But you can't just hope they will sell your more expensive or luxurious merchandise; you must have a selling system.
Using a proven selling system means engaging any stranger, building rapport before giving the product features and benefits of the merchandise, and getting the customer to buy from you that day - at full price.
If you'd like help with that, please click the link to learn about my online virtual retail sales training program SalesRX.
Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor®, has helped hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses in every major category, including hospitality, manufacturing, service, and restaurant. He is a nationally recognized expert on business strategy, customer service, persuasion, and marketing. With over thirty years of experience, beginning in the trenches and extending to senior management positions, he has been a corporate officer, franchisor, and entrepreneur.