How to Learn Relationship Selling and Close More Sales

Movie watching analogy for relationship selling

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I train a lot of retail stores how to sell using a fairly detailed process. You can’t just wing it. If you're wondering how to get more out of your store, a movie analogy is a good way to understand the sales process.

Imagine walking into a movie theater to see The Wizard of Oz for the very first time, and you are 20 minutes late.

You’d wonder…

What is it about Kansas?

What’s a munchkin?

Who’s the sister who died?

Why are they going to OZ?

You could care less about Dorothy.

If you miss the inciting incident that hooks you into the story, you will not want to spend a couple of hours with the characters.

Let’s take a look at a typical boy-meets-girl romantic comedy, and what has to happen at each stage of the movie to reel the viewer in:

1. The first impression of the character has to be good. Can we relate to him or her?

2. An inciting incident must occur that changes your main character’s life. The inciting incident is not an active moment: the incident is usually something that HAPPENS TO your main character. What are they going to do now?

3. They meet another character from another world, background, or status that they don’t get along with. Will they get together?

4. They bridge their two worlds and fall in love. Will this last?

5. But her dad hates the guy. He’s them and we’re us. What’s going to happen now?

6. A fork in the road materializes and the dad and guy stop seeing each other as enemies because they share something in common. Will this be enough to bring the guy and the girl together?

7. Your guy can’t find a way to do both. All is lost. Which will he choose?

In the end, our guy chooses the right path, gets the girl, and the dad’s approval, and embarks on a new chapter of his life.

Missing the first 20 minutes of a film isn’t much different than what happens to a shopper when a retail salesperson cuts off the first several sales points by asking, "Can I help you?" or “Can I help you find something?”

Your shopper won’t become a customer unless you find their inciting incident.

Relationship selling is the answer.

But first, your salesperson has to make a good impression by being available so your customer feels welcome. They have to give a warm greeting to get past the customer’s natural aversion to engaging with strangers.

Then they have to get the shopper to trust them, so they let the shopper browse before returning to build rapport.

Only then, when they return to the shopper, can your salesperson work to uncover the shopper’s inciting incident for shopping in your store today.

That establishes trust, and the salesperson is seen as a buddy. The conversation continues, and the salesperson patiently gets the whole backstory. They are now leading the shopper to find the solution to the inciting incident.

Your salesperson now has the shopper hooked and can whittle down the shopper’s choices to a fork-in-the-road decision for either Choice A or Choice B. Because they’ve built all this trust when the best solution costs more than the shopper initially expected to pay, the salesperson can deal with the shopper’s objections and ask for the sale.

Your customer buys the item and is glad they made an effort to come to your store that day to work with your salesperson; they wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

What to do right now

Go out on your sales floor and observe where your employees spend most of their time.

Are they moving your shopper from one stage to another and making the sale? Or are they cutting off some of the earliest steps and losing it?

To coach your sales team, ask each one, after every encounter with a shopper, to tell you what that shopper’s inciting incident was.

Most will only be able to say what product the shopper asked for. 

And that’s a huge problem.

TimeTrade has reported a better customer experience can boost a retailer's revenue by 5%. In a world of plunging margins, that is huge.

Think omnichannel will save you?

Retailers face high delivery costs, rising return rates, and the labor required to pull merchandise from shelves for in-store pickup.

Taking items home immediately is why customers of all generations shop in-store vs. online. Customers enjoy both the in-store experience and interacting with store associates.

So if the number one driving factor for visiting your store is to be able to buy and take it home, but your conversions are lacking, my guess is your crew either lacks the skills to engage and find that inciting incident or the will to care to do it.

I can help with the former.

In Sum

Almost everything has a structure: a painting, a book, a musical, a concert, or a sports game.

Ignore that structure, and you are confused. Confused shoppers walk when it comes to your brick-and-mortar store; they don’t purchase.

Retail allows you to meet people more interesting than yourself.

The best salespeople bridge worlds and cultures. 

While they might notice you're not like me, they’re authentically curious about the world and thirst for solving problems.

Great salespeople know they won’t convert the looker into a buyer without understanding the inciting incident.

Retail sales training gives a structure your team can hang on to and a process for you to coach. With that, your shoppers will be encouraged to relax and buy.

To learn how to do that in a system that is easy to duplicate and train, download my services guide below and see how I can personally train your crew, virtually train your crew, or both.


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