If you’ve been joining along in this special Retail Reflections series, How Can I Motivate My Team When It Comes To Retail Selling?, we’ve learned that there are 6 key components that activate an increase in sales. And so far we have explored the Customer and the Manager’s vital role in the process.
- The Customer
- The Manager
- The Staff Member
- Your Reception
- Your Marketing
- Your Merchandising
Today we dive into the importance of a staff member’s role in increasing your store’s retail sales. Their individual hard-skills of up-selling & cross-selling is, of course, influential in reaching your set targets. However, we cannot ignore key soft-skills they need to nurture in order to maximize their interaction with every customer that walks through your doors.
I’ll come out and admit this. In the retail landscape of today, it’s somewhat outdated to think about selling in this cookie-cutter way: “find out the needs of the client and answer their needs”. Although true and essential to a strong sale, clients of today come into retail environments more researched and prepared than ever. Would you agree? Thanks to social media, review forums, and digital advertisements, product information is available at their fingertips. They may already KNOW what they want when they walk in your store. This can sometimes leave you or your team members feeling like there is no room for further item suggestions and consultative selling.
To adjust to this shift, many store owners work hard to anticipate a customer’s unspoken needs and focus on creating more and more impulse-buy opportunities in their stores. “Oh I didn’t know I needed a strawberry lip balm as I am finishing my shopping and waiting to pay. I need/want/must have it!”, thinks the customer. Meanwhile, you say a little woohoo! to yourself.
That organic up-sell feels good, right? But let me tell you, there is a significant danger in becoming comfortable with passive selling like this. It’s important not to assume that every customer doesn’t need or want anything more than what they say they walked in the door for. How? Every team member should continue to cultivate their inner expert. Experts are sought after and cannot easily be replaced. It’ll be hard for your customer to take their business elsewhere if you are an EXPERT in their eyes. They’ll always trust your suggestions.
How can staff members quickly ascend to expert status? Here are the skills to get them there:
Know the ‘why’.
Understanding the why of your client is crucial to your retail culture: why are they here? what do they want? what are they looking for? No matter what, don’t forget to ask.
It allows us to gain insight into their unmet needs and establishes a genuine connection. Over time, this connection can only grow. From taking an interest in our customer, we can find natural opportunities to consult and guide. For example you can uncover: the habits that lead to their current want or concern, why they use the products they do today, or if their intended purchase is a step towards them achieving a greater lifestyle goal. How can you support them?
A Customer’s WHY is the heart of everything else that you will create to enhance retail sales because this messaging trickles down to your marketing & merchandising. It also becomes the foundation of your staff member training including that of your receptionists (if you employ any).
The art of listening- really actually listening.
Let me tell you something I experienced recently which happens all too often.
I was asked to mystery shop for a brand in Selfridges London UK in order to uncover what was happening at the customer consultation stage.
The sales associate asked me a few questions (so far so good!). As soon as she learned that I was over 45 years old she immediately overtook the conversation by only talking to me about the brand’s anti-ageing range from that point on. What did I tell her my main concern was earlier in the conversation? The blemishes on my chin.
I left that interaction feeling deflated with both my wrinkles (I didn’t think they were THAT prominent!) AND my blemishes. No solution was offered for my blemishes. Did I buy something? No. I was, however, given a bundle of samples that were not explained to me nor relevant to my conscious needs.
Now, don’t get me wrong, of course I am concerned about wrinkles. I have 20 eye creams at home to prove it! But because the sales associate decided what my main priority should be she unknowingly suggested items which were not going to move me to make a purchase with her. The conversation could have remained on track: what brought me to her counter? Why did I want to buy this specific brand? How long have I been experiencing these blemishes? And did I notice them after a specific incident or using a certain product? Now that could have lead us down so many consultative and product suggestion paths.
The biggest lesson here is: never assume what the customer’s needs are. Customers literally tell you what they are willing to purchase. Listen and you’ll hear these answers.
Believing in your expertise.
To set yourself up as an expert is to ensure that the customer leaves with not only the products that are answering their needs but also with ones they learned about from you as a hot tip. How do you feel when you are lead to discovering an ingenious new hack or trend forward idea? Hopefully, inspired right!? By sincerely believing in your expert suggestions, you invoke this same feeling of inspiration in your customers. Creating this circle of trust makes a lasting impact.
Your team’s commitment to being experts will unveil a thoughtful journey for all of your customers and generate sales that are both meaningful & valuable to them. Price to your customer becomes an afterthought.
Team Member mindset is the soul of your retail culture. Motivation for achieving daily goals and targets simply comes from starting their day with a positive outlook. “Today I will sell 2 products per customer” or better yet “today, I will genuinely listen to and guide our customers.” Look for ways to encourage a mindset of healthy competition with themselves, them sharing their success stories, and digging further into lessons learned as to why a sale didn’t happen. An environment for safe, self-reflection will engage your staff members for the long term.
When you are not present, your staff members are the face of your business. And as an extension of yourself, they make sales happen for you.
Engaging them from the recruitment level will cultivate the thriving retail culture you desire in your business. It takes training and dedication from the manager, the owner, and individual team members to answer and exceed your customer’s expectations. It’s effort well spent.
In the next part of this series, we will be looking at reception teams specifically and their role when it comes to retail sales. Even if you don’t employ a reception team, there are several golden rules you won’t want to miss that will help mam a lasting positive impression on your customer and have them coming back to you again and again.
Love retail & retail will love you back!
Valerie Delforge is the founder and CEO of Delforge Management Consulting LTD whom is dedicated to setting up spas and retail boutiques for ultimate success through expert bespoke programmes and accessible online workshops. Learn more about Delforge Management Consulting here: https://valeriedelforge.com/