Don't Be Guilty Of Selling With Dollar Signs In Your Eyes

Dollar sign in eye

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Selling can be a complex process but the fatal mistake many never address is the attitude of the salesperson looking at how much they can get out of the sale rather than how much customer service they can give. 

What does having dollar signs in your eyes mean?

It is the derogatory selling phrase for a salesperson sizing up a customer for how much money they can get from them.

Many times they use what sales trainers call tie-downs - short questions to get the customer to respond saying "Yes" so it will be harder for the customer to say No at the end. 

What are the telltale signs of a salesperson approaching a customer with dollar signs in their eyes?

  • Overly eager
  • Quick to answer
  • Nervous
  • Fidgety
  • Pushy

That approach never works to create successful selling to customers.

It is just a creepy process, where the shopper feels like a piece of meat to be consumed. We often associate this approach with used car salesmen, which is corny, cheesy, and honestly, yucky.

It is the opposite of customer service.

So, how does it happen?

It starts because the salesperson is desperate to sell something.

Unreasonable goals, unreasonable managers, a lifestyle built on pre-Covid commissions, there are a million reasons why it happens.

But that's no excuse...

And with retail stores operating at 25 percent of capacity in many areas, I get it. If you were used to making commissions and bonuses and there are far fewer people walking in, closing the sale for everyone who enters gets more and more important.

You need that customer to buy if you want to eat. And I know how that feels...

When I was working in retail, it was 60-plus hours every week, driven by commission and bonuses. I didn't eat lunch in the mall if I didn't produce. I'd have to brown bag it for the month.

The owner used to say, "You're only as good to me as your last sale." That’s brutal, but there's a lot of truth to that.

However, it often leads to a lazy way to sell, which is to get them in and get them out; "What are you looking for? It's over here. Need anything else? Cash or credit." Done and on to the next wallet.

But when the emphasis is on the transaction, the close of the sale, it all becomes a numbers game devoid of humanity.

I'm known for my novelty shirts from Robert Graham. One time when I walked into their store in Las Vegas, a sales associate started speaking at me, "Did you see this we just got in? Did you see these we got in? Oh, and those are 20 percent off."

After a barrage of a bunch of tie-down questions, I had to say to him, "Dude, just leave me alone."

With just a little observation, he could have engaged me in a different way than to think he would somehow talk me into making a purchase at his store.

His goal should have been to get me to talk to him and be comfortable enough to try on a new shirt.

His transactional mindset to try to make something happen is impacting so many retailers.

If customers simply wanted to buy something, they’d stay home on their phone or computer. There’s a reason why they’re in your store -- they crave human connection during this pandemic. 

Social Distancing and Selling

There was a recent story in The New York Times about how much social distancing is actually costing us as a society regarding mental health and communication breakdowns. We’re hungry for connection!

While I understand (and, of course, respect) the need to maintain social distancing and be mindful of everyone’s boundaries, it can’t be all about getting someone in and out of your store as fast as possible.

The goal still needs to be opening your heart to another person who wants to know they’re not alone.

If you’re actively seeking to connect with any potential shopper on a human-to-human level, it will dynamically change their experience.

Start with curiosity, asking yourself, “Why did they walk into my store? Why today? What’s driving them to come here today?”

If you simply pull back and allow a little space to be a human being talking to another human being, then the world opens up to you. That is the way forward to sell more in your retail store. 

Don’t reward desperation from your salespeople - it doesn’t serve anyone well, especially your customer.

Many retailers hear, “You need to make your brick-and-mortar store more like an online business. Just have your most popular products on a table in the middle. That way, a customer can walk in, not talk to anyone, check out, and be on their way. Minimal contact!”

If that’s what your customer really wanted, they can have that experience at home again.

I guarantee you, after personally working with hundreds of the world’s top retailers just in the past few months, I know your customer craves a real, relaxed connection with the right sales experience.

There's no mystery to what makes us bond with a person and a brand. It’s being more human.

What turned us off pre-pandemic was the old way of selling that taught salespeople to throw out their hand for a handshake and force a greeting, "Hi, I'm Bob, and you're ________?” 

When the pandemic raged, people stopped wanting to shake hands for the foreseeable future. The key to making more sales is just to be more human.

Let's eliminate the dollar signs in our eyes and develop a truly humane sales process. 

How to avoid selling with dollar signs in your eyes

1. Be curious. Ask yourself, Why is this person in the store right now? So many times, we are counting up our goal, bonus, or our need of closing the sale instead of focusing on the new opportunity.

2. Serve first. Desperation and anxiety come from the feeling you have to MAKE THE SALE. If you follow a process to build rapport and serve first,  the sale will take care of itself. Any baseball fan will tell you they can see a slugger in a slump trying desperately to get on base. They get out of the slump by letting go and enjoying the game, not feeling they can control many things which are out of their control. 

3. Slow down. Simply allowing the sale to take a bit more time for you to get to know the customer and find some common interests will relax you. At that point, the shopper will often tell you about their entire project, outfit, or gift rather than you having to ask them specifically what they're looking for. That allows you to make bigger sales and develop relationships. 

Now is the time to lean into the relationship-driven approach to selling and business. 

In Sum

Customers respond to associates who open their hearts and develop relationships like humans. They’ll open their wallets. They’ll tell their friends. You'll be a greater success.

Your customers will feel you care about them first, not their wallets.

I work with some of the biggest, best brands in the world on how to become more authentic in an increasingly inauthentic world where technology is driving everything. If you’re looking to create a remarkable experience with your retail sales team, you need the best retail sales training. Visit to learn more or download the outline.


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