Why Closing The Sale Techniques Are Dead For Retailers

By Bob Phibbs

closing technique retail sales training

I was talking to a potential client about her needs for retail sales training. She had read some of my blogs. She had watched my videos.

“What I’m really looking for,” she said, “are closing techniques. My team just doesn’t know how to close a sale like I do. My employees spend lots of time educating each customer, and yet they still don’t buy.”

That’s because customers have changed.

Let’s step back...

For most of retail history, the manufacturer created a product and their sales representatives sold the product to retailers by giving them all the technical aspects of their product line.

The retailer would train their employees on all the product features so when the ignorant customer - and I mean that in a good way - came into the shop, the salesperson would tick off all the reasons to buy that particular product. Those on the fence would be subjected to a variety of closing techniques...

“So Mrs. Prospect, you say it is too much. How much too much is it for you?” Answer: $1000. “One thousand dollars. And how long do you think you’ll use the product?” Answer: Ten years. “So that’s really only about $100 a year or about $8 a month or about twenty-five cents a day. Isn’t your happiness worth 25 cents a day?”

It's like an arm wrestle with someone losing.

I hate that crap.

And some retailers are still using such techniques.

Let me tell you something, it’s 2014.

While I’ll give you that this could work in a few cases, it won’t work in many.

Why?

Selling has changed because buyers have changed; technology has changed everything.

According to several studies, as much as 70-80% of the buyer’s discovery journey has been completed before they reach your doors.  Customers frequently have more product information on the specific item they are looking for than your employees could possibly be expected to know about every item in your store.

Product information is no longer the reason shoppers are coming into your store.  They think they know exactly what they are looking for and are looking to be affirmed in their choice.

They are unaware that there might be a better option, a better choice - specifically for them - that they may not have discovered in their search. That's the only role your employees should focus on and where they can alter your sales.

The modern retailer now must understand that the employee role is more of a catalyst, one who adds to the journey of the customer and ultimately ends in a sale.

If you’ve hung your hat on product knowledge all these years as the main advantage your store has over a competitor - that’s gone.

The only way to sell to this new customer is to develop the soft skills to engage - truly engage - a customer with an open heart.

You want to close a sale? You need to develop the skills to first get a customer to let you into their world so you can understand what they are trying to fix, solve or replace.  

That’s because no one comes into a store and says, “The sky’s the limit!”

You have to earn their trust, develop it, and not lose it at the very end with some 60’s era closing technique.

As long as it is your intent to get the customer to buy from you today, everything should lead naturally to a close.

In Sum

Customers are looking to upgrade their lives with their purchase from your retail store.

Don’t look backwards for closing techniques.

Learn to be a natural, trusted advisor who sells side-by-side in partnership with your customer.

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