Most of the recent news about retail has been negative, it’s been all about stores closing, iconic retailers struggling with sales, customers flocking to online and the list goes on. There are even words being used such as “retail apocalypse” to describe the current state of retail. Yet, despite all the doom and gloom, some retailers are doing well and growing their sales year on year.
I believe there is so much opportunity to increase sales in every retail store and it’s all in the hands of the store manager and their staff. I have commented before on how important the role of the store manager is and great store managers have the best teams. That is still my view and companies have to invest in the ongoing development of their store managers, otherwise, face the likelihood of poor sales and high turnover of staff.
However, even with great store managers in charge, there is still opportunity going begging, when it comes to sales. Certainly nowhere near the missed opportunities at poorer run stores but they are still there.
What I’m talking about is the number of times that team members (including store managers) just transact their customers. By this I mean, the customer comes in armed with knowledge from the internet and asks for a particular product. The team member goes and gets that product and then asks one of the worst questions if you want to increase sales – they ask “Anything else today?” The problem is that the customer has no idea if they want anything else (as they have just come in for the one product they have done research on) so will invariably say no.
The customer leaves, gets home and at some stage realises they are missing something they didn’t think of at the initial purchase and it’s too late to go back. Frustration all around. From the customer who is annoyed the sale person didn’t remind them of X and from the store’s point of view as a massive lost opportunity for an additional sale or sales.
If we don’t improve on our sales process and just go through the motions of transacting, similar to what I have described, then more and more customers will head online to save the hassle of going to a store. Or the customer will try your competitor and receive better service and stay with them.
So here’s the pain points as I see them and things we have to stop doing and how to get them right:
- I could call this not approaching customers as I still see this all too frequently, where staff are doing tasks or talking and leave customers to wander on their own and often out of the store without buying anything.
- Saying this to customers – “Are you happy browsing?” “Do you need any help?” “Are you right there?” There are more variations of these, but these have to stop being asked, we may as well just tell the customer I’m too busy to serve. How about greeting them, ask them what brings them into today, have a quick chat etc.
Identifying their needs – why are they there?
- Stop just finding products that they requested. Instead, ask “What are you using it for?’ or “How often?” or questions similar to this. These questions dig deeper and provide you with options to discuss better quality or alternate products the customer hasn’t thought of.
Don’t use “Anything else today” to try and get more sales
- Listen to what the customer is saying about how they intend to use the product and use your product knowledge to recommend other complementary products that will provide a complete solution. Every product has something that goes with it and this is where the extra sales come from.
These techniques are simple yet not done well at most stores. If your team focused on these simple steps, you will massively increase your sales and have customers leaving feeling great. And that’s the way you compete and thrive in this challenging environment.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.