Let’s face it, there has been a lot of bad news surrounding retail sales here in Australia. Sales year on year have been decidedly flat, the R word (for recession) has also been mentioned a few times and the economy is doing retailers no favours in encouraging people to spend money. Even the government’s recent cash hand out didn’t seem to translate into sales at the register. Traffic counts for some retailers have reduced, making it very challenging to reach last year’s sales figures, let alone beat them. Yet some retailers continue to do well and shrug off the challenges and I believe it has a lot to do with the great sales people they have working for them.
These sales people are always consistent, they front up every day with a smile on their face and with passion to burn, they can’t wait for the shop doors to open. So what makes these sales people great? I’ve been lucky to meet a number in my 30+ years of retailing and this is what I believe makes them tick:
1) They are passionate. This comes through with their natural enthusiasm and positive attitude. They believe in the products they are selling. They love making connections with customers, they have a natural way of getting on the same level with every customer and have a genuine interest in people. This all translates into a passion for helping their customers find the right solutions. They actually sell without having to sell!
2) Focus on the customer. Their entire approach is focussed on how can I help this customer, not what can I sell them. Through their passion and focus on the customer they build a tremendous amount of trust, quite quickly. They break down barriers and find out quickly what the customer’s needs are. This gives them a huge advantage as their customers feel that they are not being sold something the sales person wants to sell them, rather it’s what they need.
3) They are amazing listeners. I believe that the best sales people are not the ones who have all the fancy closing techniques, it is a sales person who is best at listening to the customer. Coupled with asking great questions to find out the customer’s needs, this is the secret to getting more sales. Listening is powerful in many ways – Customers are used to being sold to by sales people, so when they come across a sales person who asks questions and listens most customers feel, wow, this person gets me. The right questions uncover the key needs of the customer and sometimes the customer realises that what they thought they wanted isn’t what they need. Effective listening tells the customer that you have understood what they are looking for, builds massive amounts of trust and lowers any barriers.
4) Great sales people are goal focussed. They know that their passion, focus on the customer and listening skills will create more sales, so they don’t vary from this process, even when times are tough. They use individual goals such as items per customer and average sale to motivate themselves even more. Even if their numbers are down they will see this as a challenge, not a negative. They always know where they are at against their targets and use this as motivator to keep doing what they know works.
5) They are open to new ideas. Because great sales people have a focus on being the best they can be, they are continually looking for ways to improve. This could be through seeking out feedback on their sales process, looking for tiny ways they can improve. They always want to know about new products as they see these as an opportunity to introduce these to customers.
6) They go the extra mile. Success drives them, so they know at times they have to put in extra effort to be successful. This could be follow up calls with customers, always looking for ways to find suitable alternatives if the store is out of stock, and being creative with customers to search for solutions. They know that their interaction with the customer defines if the customers buys and comes back, so every customer is treated to an experience.
Unfortunately I don’t see as many of these great sales people in stores, however when I come across one I know the experience is going to be amazing.
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.