OER’s guide to conjuring up more sales from the shop floor
There was a time when all you needed to make sales was the ‘gift of the gab.’ Or at least that was the popular conception. But selling has always been as much about listening as it has about talking, and it’s also been as much a science as it is an art.
To break that science down simply, every sales person should bring a little MAGIC into their working life.
There’s an old saying: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Never is this truer than when someone walks into your store. The good news is, that as a shopper yourself, you have a good idea of what any shopper is looking for when they enter a shop.
It’s a balancing act. Jump straight on them, and you may put them off. It’s not easy to come back from:
‘Can I help you?’
‘It’s ok, I’m only looking.’
But ignore them and they’ll think you’re not interested.
If they are interested, there’s normally a moment when they will want some input. Are you watching? Are you aware of when they have reached that stage?
It’s good to watch your customer. Take notice if they start looking up to see if there’s anyone around. Take notice if they start paying particular attention to one item, or comparing two.
And feel comfortable starting a conversation. Even if it’s just about the weather, or their plans (assuming they are buying outdoor gear for a reason), or the items they are looking at. They now know you’re interested and you can always leave them with, ‘let me know if you need any help.’ At least they now know you’re a human being, not a pushy salesman. They’re now way more likely to engage with you when they do need more information.
Remember that a question from them is usually a buying signal. But don’t jump in just yet…
Ask (open-ended questions)
This really is the biggest part of selling – forget that gift of the gab and your desire to demonstrate all your knowledge and experience in one go. Start asking, and more importantly, listening. There are literally hundreds of things you can ask a customer, even if they start by asking you a question first.
What would they be using it for? What are they planning on doing? Where are they planning on doing it? How often are they planning on doing it? And for how long? How high? What time of year? What are they using at the moment? What do they like about it? What don’t they like?
Remember your questions are way more powerful if they are open-ended and ask for information, not just a yes or no answer. At this stage use: How? What? Where? When? Who? Rather than: Do you? Would you?
If you make it your objective to understand your customer, what they like and dislike, and what they do in the outdoors and how often, then you’ll be in a great position to help them. And if you stay relaxed and make yourself genuinely interested, then the questions and conversation will flow quite naturally.
When you know as much as you need to…
This is the easy bit. You know your products, you know the outdoors, you know your area. If your questioning was successful, your customer will have given you a problem they want to solve: solve it.
Suggest the most appropriate product or products for them. But remember, don’t just talk features: ‘it’s Wow-Tex’.
Talk features, advantages and benefits (FAB).
‘It’s Wow-Tex, which means that it’s way more breathable than the other brands, so you’ll be dry and comfortable as you make that final push for the summit.’
You know what Wow-Tex is. They may not.
If you’re not 100% sure of the features, advantages and benefits of your product range, start thinking about this. If you don’t know what they are, you can’t explain them to your customer.
If appropriate, and they haven’t asked already, this is a good time to ask them if they want to try it on.
Once you’ve explained everything (and they’ve tried it on)…
This is an easily overlooked yet crucial part of the process.
What do they think? What other questions do they have? Can they see how the Wow-Tex will help? Is there anything they are looking for that this doesn’t have?
Close (the sale)
In a shop environment this is usually a fairly soft process. If the above stages have gone well, it can be as simple as, ‘what do you think?’ In fact, 9 times out of 10, your customer will probably tell you that they are going to buy it during the invite stage.
But don’t forget there are other ways to close a sale. Obvious ones are the alternative closes: ‘The Wow-Tex or the Wow-Tex Active?’
A sense of urgency: ‘The sale only lasts a few more days.’
Assumptive: ‘Which colour/size/model are you going to go for?’
Concessional: ‘If you’re happy with it, I’ll throw in some ‘Wow-Tex Wash’
There are many more…
There’s probably one more stage here: the evaluation. If it goes well, what did you do well? What worked? If it didn’t, why? What could you do better?
Ok, so sales is never really this simple, and intuition and experience still count for so much. But as a simple system to remember, this one really is MAGIC.