Scarcity is one of the closing techniques certain salespeople have used for years to try to make customers buy.
The routine goes something like this: “We can give you 20% off, but only if you buy it today.” If the customer isn’t quick to open their wallet, that discount offer will be gone, leaving them a fool to pay full price.
I have news for you...today's greatest scarcity is a customer's time.
We, as customers, know that some great deals, coupons, and specific items will indeed be there tomorrow. If not from this retailer, then from another retailer or perhaps online. In many ways, it’s like what you learn if you miss a bus, there’ll be another coming along shortly.
Customers who walk into your luxury boutique do so with a few expectations already in mind. There are obvious expectations; they want a quality product and have an eye for value.
Then there are the not-so-obvious expectations; they want the experience to be about them and expect to be treated as a client, not a commodity.
If you’re using outdated closing techniques like always be closing (ABC), you’re not meeting those expectations; you’re living up to those customers' worst fears. High-pressure closing techniques make the sales experience more about getting your products out the door and less about the customer.
Once customers sense that you don’t care about them, they’ll move on to a retailer who can give them the experience they’re after.
Despite this, many stores still rely on old-fashioned sales techniques that worked when they were the only game in town. Now that every retailer is competing in a global market, being the best in town is of little importance.
The only thing that matters is being the best retailer for that particular customer... at that particular moment.
I put myself through college by learning how to sell. I purchased cassette tapes and books and watched videos to learn how to communicate better with sales closing techniques for retail.
And yes, I did try those old chestnuts, the alternative of choice close, and the porcupine close. And they might have worked once. But it made me feel like my role was to force someone into something on my terms. I soon abandoned them.
And if you haven’t let them go yourself, I hope you do after reading this post.
Nowadays, just the words closing a sale are met with derision. I still hear this from luxury retailers, “Oh, we don’t want to be closing or selling anything. We simply facilitate our guests to buy.”
Really? I have news for them: that’s not selling. You are simply clerking whatever product a customer comes in asking for. No wonder so many premium brands are in trouble right now.
The New Paradigm
But closing a sale isn’t about pushing customers to make purchases. It is about imparting your wisdom about those products to guide customers to purchase. This organic process puts the customer in control, makes the experience all about them, and makes for more frequent and repeatable buying experiences.
Without it, your store is just another warehouse or distribution center waiting for an order from the internet to be shipped somewhere.
And without it, you are forced to discount your luxury products.
During one past holiday season…
Coach had most of its styles at Lord & Taylor on sale for 40% off, but at Macy's, Coach was being discounted as buy one, get one 50% off.
I have to believe that if those department store employees had used proper selling techniques to sell those Coach bags, having to trash their margins by discounting would not have been necessary.
Leave Always Be Closing To The Movies
With the right tools, your salespeople can adapt to any situation and buyer persona.
Proper training gives them the tools and lays the foundation for closing sales organically while creating a memorable experience for your customers. While each customer and situation will differ, the foundation remains the same.
And that foundation is not to always be closing.
Think of it this way…
Ever seen a movie with a guy desperate to hook up with a girl at a bar? It’s yucky for everyone but him.
Because he keeps trying the same pickup lines he thought worked from the start; he’s always trying to close the deal.
He’s so focused on getting her that he keeps trying to close the deal, which alienates him from her - even if she might initially have thought he was cute.
While that can make for a funny scene in a movie, alienating customers is never funny.
You close the deal by connecting to the stranger first as a person and then connecting to them as a customer.
Three Steps to Sales Success
Giving customers what they want and getting what you want are not mutually exclusive goals. No one has to lose. Customers want a quality product and a memorable experience; the salesperson wants to get the sale.
By following these three sales techniques, everyone is happy:
Connect with the Customer. This is where the entire experience begins. Your salespeople need to engage the customer in a genuine, meaningful way. That means seeing things from their point of view, listening to their wants and needs, and deriving genuine joy in selling them luxury products. Your salespeople must be counselors and psychologists, sometimes all at once, making them trusted advisors.
Connect the Customer to the Product. A big part of the experience for the customer is having someone relate the product to their specific wants and needs. They can get all the product information they want online. They can also buy the product online, probably cheaper than you can sell it. Only a personal connection will set you apart from a world of online resellers. Your goal is to make the buying decision an emotional response instead of a logical cost calculation.
Connect the Product to Additional Value. Selling a single product is, by and large, a waste of much of the effort to turn a shopper into a buyer. It takes so much effort, don’t squander the opportunity by only selling one item. Look for ways to suggestively sell additional items that can add value to the original purchase. These complementary items help increase your per-ticket averages, but more importantly, it gives your customers a more useful product.
When you provide an engaging personal experience, shoppers will do all the closing work for you.
The right approach, founded on the three selling techniques above, will help browsing customers move organically from considering to purchasing.
Outdated sales techniques that rely on pressure and guile simply don’t work in today’s luxury retail environment.