Retail Sales Training: Lessons From Sears Glory Days

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training

When I began my retail career, it was common knowledge that in many appliance stores there used to be a "loss-leader" that was heavily advertised; a washer with a “the golden spike” in it if you will.

The understanding was if you the saleman sold one, you would be gone because you couldn't sell; a salesperson's job was to sell the profitable item.

Sears' had a different sales strategy I'm told by a former principal, "Sears sold up by selling down." They presented a full line of each appliance, from a stripped down model you probably didn't want, to a model with gadgets that you really didn't need.

They didn't expect to sell many from the top or bottom of the spectrum. The sales strategy was to present the full line quickly, identifying the shortcomings of the low end model and the gee-whiz features of the top-of-the-line.

Depending on how the sale was going, the salesperson would say, "Let me be honest with you. You're paying for features in the top-of-the-line model that you probably will never use. I don't think this is the best value for you. The model under it has features that you will use and for a lot less than the top of the line. I suggest you save some money by buying the next model down.

Sears made a profit, the customer got what they wanted, everyone was happy. Nowadays in most appliance stores, if a clerk came over, they'd ask if you "found everything ok" and a sign would tell you there was a rebate on it.

Of course, that was then.

One of the people I follow on Twitter, EdisoftFan alerted me that at their local Sears has a chart ranking associates by credit card applications - nothing to do with sales. Is it a mystery Sears is flailing these days?

In a related story in the Los Angeles Times details how IKEA is struggling for profitability in China, Beijing loves IKEA. People flock to the store but not for shopping. Linda Xu, a company spokeswoman rolled her eyes when she came upon a trio of slumbering customers, "The brand awareness is great, but the question is, how do we get people to open up their wallets and spend money?"

That's a salesperson's job.

Lessons For You

The only way your store will standout from your competitors, that your crew will be different than any other, that you'll make a profit as the economy recovers is to learn to sell better. That comes from having a process, being coached and tracking results.

Consumer sentiment is up - are you ready to sell the merch or let your employees sell by calculating the "deal?"

Retail sales training is the magic bullet to growing your sales, not discounts. You won't be able to use the excuse its "the economy" much longer.

Change or die my friends.

I look forward to your comments below:

About Bob Phibbs

Companies from some of the very largest, to some of the smallest, from luxury brands to startups, from franchises to regional chains contact me as a retail consultant because they are looking for results. An owner may have read one of my books, seen my videos, seen me on TV, heard me speak or read this blog to get a taste of my people-focused philosophy and my methods.

While every client and project is different, the ability to enlist me as a retail consultant who has a fresh set of eyes to look at the challenges you are facing results in a focused, effective and creative path to profitable sales.

No matter what your size, let's see how I can help you; click the Take the first step button below to contact me.

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