Archive for the 'Sales' Category

Where Have All the Salespeople Gone?

Have you been approached by a real, live human salesperson lately?

For years, we’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of active selling going on in stores.

Even taking Covid 19 and social distancing out of the equation, in recent years human interaction hasn’t been what it was even in the early to mid 2000’s.

Greeting the customer, approaching, determining needs and all the rest of the tried and true ‘steps of selling’ seem to have gone by the wayside long before Covid 19 made it impossible to get anywhere near a customer.

Do you think we have to resign ourselves to that?

Once Covid 19 has been sufficiently squashed, do you think we’ll return to old ways with gusto …return to what used to be considered normal retailing…happy to be able to interact with our customers?

Hard to say, isn’t it?

We hear reports that retail traffic, in 2020, was down by close to 50% compared to 2019. That’s serious.

But, there is an upside.

If you look at it strictly from a numbers perspective, it simply means that retailers need to double the productivity of other KPIs.

Easier said than done, of course. What isn’t?

Too bad simple doesn’t mean easy.

For quite some time, many retailers have only required certain employees to engage with the customer; those in particular positions like cashiers, servers…the obvious ones.

Service models vary widely, as you have undoubtedly seen.

The superstores, the warehouse clubs, the discount stores and ‘brands for less’ type stores are all examples of no service on the floor or, simply, self — service.

They have merchandisers and shelf-stockers, front end supervisors, etc. but no sales associates who seek out customers to attend to them…to sell to them.

For retailers who allow the merchandise, the placement, visual effects, the brand image and all other things not human to do the suggestive selling, well…it’s going to be tough to double up on productivity.

Granted, depending on the merchandise or category, it can work very well.

Some of them do a great job moving multiple units per transaction with their ‘Buy 2 or 3 for $XX’ promos.

Some of those offers are good enough to make a customer feel like an idiot for buying just one.

Is that a good thing? It depends on your point of view.

In any case, special product deals are normal and expected when you are purchasing groceries and snacks, toiletries, etc.

But, they are no replacement for the right kind of human interaction when it comes to other merchandise like apparel, electronics, appliances, gifts and more…when purchasing decisions are more consequential.

Good people make the difference.

For retailers offering ‘human’ service to their customers, the sky is the limit!

Just think about it. Think about what retailers did not so many years ago.

Assisted by sophisticated systems and promotions and signage and advertising…the goods were sold by people.

Now, your problems are not going to be solved with average service provided by average employees.

No…

We’re talking about the kind of service that is provided by well groomed, well informed, well trained sales associates who are genuine, enthusiastic, results driven and really good at what they do and who are supported by strong management.

With that in mind, you need to start thinking about your recovery plan.

If you are going to recover from this disaster that was certainly NOT of your own making, you’re going to need a plan.

That plan must include turning every one of your employees into a revenue generator. It’s just that simple.

Why wouldn’t you do that?

Here are some other pertinent questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What’s the best and fastest way to get huge increases in every Key Performance Indicator?
  • What are profit multipliers and how do they work?
  • How do I implement a Productivity Plan?
  • What resources do I need?
  • Where do I find these resources?

Everything you need is in the:

Ultimate Retail Success Collection

All the training you could want for your team is in the Ultimate Retail Success Collection.

We’ve just added new programs. Check it out here.

And…lest we forget…if you are facing a mandated increase in minimum wage rates, that’s not going to make things any easier.

If you can increase sales to cover the added expense, great. Otherwise…profit will be eroded.

We emphasize ‘minimum wage’ rates because higher wages that are mandated are very different than higher wages that are provided based on merit…based on performance expectations and results.

But, that’s a big discussion for another day.

Relationship Selling in Retail

RELATIONSHIP SELLING

Relationship selling can be defined as a selling process which focuses on long term satisfaction and repeat business maintenance for both parties (seller and buyer).

This selling philosophy is in total contrast with one shot sales blitz and other fast-buck selling tactics.

On-going selling processes are highly dependent upon the salesperson’s knowledge of the customers, their life-styles, their buying practices and the history of their purchases.

Success of relationship selling is contingent upon the ability of the salesperson in nurturing and strengthening the bond between himself and the customer.

Therefore, it becomes vital to recognize from the outset the necessity of managing the relationship with the customers.

Hotels with thousands of customer details in their databases can communicate a returning customer’s preferences to the front desk staff to make sure that the doorperson can greet him/her by name upon arrival, prepare a room to his/her liking and turn the whole experience into a very enjoyable if not an exhilarating one.

When you call for reservations at some restaurants, do not be surprised if they ask you if you would like to have the same menu or the same table as you had during your last visit a few months ago!

Among the buzz-words are “close-to-customer” and “high-touch”.

These words mean that in today’s and tomorrow’s fragmented markets, ultimate forms of personalized customer contact is the strategic direction.

What is the secret or is there really a secret? The answer is no.

These establishments like many others joining the practice, have understood what their function is and they are utilizing the tools to deliver what they have to do in a competitive environment.

They practice relationship selling through meticulous collection of information regarding customer preferences and commitment to use that information.

For companies whose existence and/or prosperity depend on repeat business, acquiring-building-maintaining the relationship with the customer is critical.

How do we develop a relationship with the customer? It has many parallels to developing friendships.

From the first step customer takes into your store, you have the foundation of building the relationship.

There is obviously a common interest in terms of the merchandise you have in the store.

That is the ideal starting point to be used as a base for a long term association if you handle the customer properly according to the fundamentals of sales skills which were discussed previously.

This initial contact has to be utilized to get as much information about the customer as possible.

It is the information you collect about the customer which will give you the leads for further conversations and contacts.

This is why advance planning of customer interfaces is so important. Information gathering should then become a regular part of your selling skill set.

Having collected the information, it is the utilization of it which makes the difference and will create a loyal following for your services and/or products.

Remembering the important days in their lives, sending relevant articles about their hobbies, coming up with suggestions to improve their satisfaction out of the merchandise/service they bought from you long ago…

These are just a few examples for gaining their friendship and patronage for life!

The purpose of relationship selling is more sales, more referrals and repeat customers through knowing the customers as humans-not just as bodies who buy merchandise at your store.

RELATIONSHIP SELLING IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION

The end result of relationship selling is a satisfied customer on one hand and a successful salesperson on the other. They have reached the best outcome.

The best return on investment (ROI) for both parties.

Customer ROI: The customer receives the product s/he needs/wants.

The customer interacts with a salesperson who is honest and knowledgeable, who is listening and interested in the customer’s needs.

The customer leaves the store emotionally, psychologically and financially satisfied.

Salesperson ROI: Apart from having made the sale, salesperson reaps the rewards of a satisfied customer which results in repeat and referral sales and profits.

It is helpful to internalize the following concepts and procedures for maximum effectiveness in relationship selling:

  • Establish routines that assure the right kind of customer contacts. These should be well practiced and must be specific to the situation, responsive to the issue at hand and sensitive to the customer needs. Inquiries and complaints must be handled with a personal touch in a disciplined and/or controlled manner.
  • It is important to be patient throughout the process of relationship building. It takes time and thought to give special attention conducive to nurturing relationships.
  • Develop your own tools and strategy with which you are effective and comfortable and work with them religiously-consistently.
  • Regard the absence of customer complaints as an indication of low level contact with the customer.
  • Try to stay up-to-date with your customers’ future intentions to be able to anticipate, plan and respond.

With the philosophy of relationship selling in mind, analyze the high pressure selling situations and develop your own critique for the conventional wisdom of selling.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Retail Management Success

Ultimate Retail Success Collection

Retail Business Academy

Retail Business Academy

Archives

Sales & Influence Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory