Everybody in their job or in their business needs the skill of being able to sell a product or service. This post is about some basic things that you can do to increase your own successful sales rate and has a focus on physical stores – where you can actually SEE people.
Bricks and Mortar Retail Stores
If you have a store where people can physically come and see the products you have an offer this gives you a good advantage over selling online or over the phone. Why? People can see your products in the real world but more importantly you can see them.
If someone comes into your store, half the battle is already won – the customer is engaged enough to look at your products so something has got them in there right? Sure there might be the odd person who is legitimately just killing time but for the majority of people that have entered, they’ve done so for a reason.
So whats your next steps? Before you approach the customer quickly observe them try and gauge what they are looking at, this way you know what to focus on initially. Once you do approach the customer make sure that not only do you listen but watch their eyes and body language as this will quite often tell you more about what they intend on purchasing. At this point if you make any suggestions to them again, watch their reaction if you’re getting negative responses you need to adjust what you are doing because you most likely aren’t catering to what they want. Remember a negative response is not always going to be due to price it could be something as simple as the colour or size of an item.
However if you get positive responses theres some simple things you can do. My favourite is – if possible place the item they customer is looking at in their hands or suggest they try it on, or let them use it. Get them to TRY it. Why? Psychologically people then begin to feel as if the item already belongs to them, they develop a greater connection to the item and are more likely to buy it.
So what should you look for when trying to determine someones action towards a product? Their eyes, their face and their body. If you are interacting with the person pay attention to very simple details, do they move away from you? Do they lean towards you? Are their eyes looking towards certain products or store sections? Do they have a rapid change in demeanour when you suggest something (e.g. Excited to not excited, sad to happy) Pay attention and use your observations to your advantage.
If you’ve been lucky enough to convince the customer to buy something at this point the next biggest thing is don’t stop! Nearly all products will have something additional you can sell with it. e.g. You’ve sold a pair of shoes, offer some shoe care products, You’ve sold a TV – offer a Netflix Card, cables, You’ve sold a phone, offer headphones – you get the idea. Always try and sell more than one item, a lot of times you’ll get told no but a whole heap more times you’ll be able to sell that extra something.
Cafes & Bars
For those of you that don’t know for around 5 years I owned and operated a coffee business in Newcastle NSW. Coffee shops in particular are very interesting for the sales process as you are generally working on high volume low price products (not all the time though). So how can you deal with that?
A very easy way to do this is to answer any questions from potential customers suggestively. Take the question “What sizes do you have?” most people will answer this the following way – Small, Medium Large. There is a problem with this however, the first thing you say is what sticks in the customers head and most likely what they will go for. Next time you are asked this question say medium first, then say small and then large. You’ll be surprised at how many people will opt for the larger size.
If you sell food items as well e.g. muffins, baked breads anything that you can take away you can use this to your advantage to sell a coffee. How? If people ask how much this is you can say its $4.50 BUT…. with a coffee its only $4 or whatever pricing structure you decide. Although you are discounting (a very small amount) you’re then increasing your average sale. It may not sound like much but if you can convert 50% of your customers to take a snack and a coffee rather than just a coffee, or just a snack that will lead to a significant increase in revenue.
If you own a bar you can easily play on social aspects in groups. For example if two guys or two girls approach a bar but only one buys a drink, simply say something like “Does your friend need a drink to?” every opportunity you have to sell more than one item you should take it.
Product rules for all bricks and mortar stores
One thing that I think a lot of businesses need to change is displaying products. If you’ve got the product and you’ve got the space. SHOW IT OFF! Every extra second you take to complete a sale is time that a person can decide that they no longer want whatever it is you are selling.
People shouldn’t have to get the answer “we might have that in the store room” or “maybe out the back” – sure if you’re a shoe shop or clothing shop you might have other sizes stored away, but you should certainly have at least one size for people to see. If a person comes in and sees exactly what they want they’ll either buy it or it will give you time to discuss with them buying more products. If you’ve got to waste half your time “checking” if something is even available because you failed to display it you’ve lost that opportunity and in many cases the sale. I challenge you to record any time this happens and see if it leads to a sale, or if the customer walks away.
Know Your Product
When I was much younger I was asking my friends dad about a product in a store he worked in and I said “Have you got one yourself?” and he replied “I’ve got one of everything in this store” which was obviously not true – however he did know as much as possible about all of the products on offer to be able to assist anyone and sell to them.
Take the time to learn the features and benefits of your products and services so that you can confidently sell them. Remember people are trusting you to guide them, sure they might of read a few things online about what they are buying but you should always be able to offer that extra bit of knowledge thats missing from their research.
Limit putting up barriers to sales
Recently I was at a store and heard a person that enquired about a particular item and was told “Sorry we don’t have that in stock, not sure when they are back in”. This is one of the most terrible things to say. Why? You’re completely ending the transaction with the customer without even trying to sell something to them.
The first thing you should do in this circumstance is offer an alternative product if one is available. Keep the conversation OPEN – don’t ever close it straight away. If the customer doesn’t want it and specifically wants a particular product offer to order it for them. For some reason so many retailers try to give the spiel of it might take weeks to arrive purely because they are waiting to do big orders from a particular supplier. If you’re worried about this tell the customer you can get it quicker if they pay a freight fee – again keep the conversation OPEN.
At this point, if you’ve hit walls of no, or I don’t want to most likely the customer will be ready to go somewhere else. In this circumstance see if you can recommend something else nearby that may stock that item – they’ll see a lot more value and integrity from you if you do this instead of just sending them on their way.
Rules for any store
Acknowledge and welcome your customers. The best way I can describe the importance of this is imagine if you walked into your friend’s house or your family’s home and they just stared at you and didn’t say a thing. You’d feel incredibly strange. This is exactly what happens to customers that walk in to your store and you don’t say a word to them. Always take the time and the effort to acknowledge and greet customers in your store, if you’re on a phone call thats going for some time take a few seconds to say hello to the person in your store and if that phone call is not leading to a sale nicely end it – focus on the people in your store ready to buy.
The most important thing
Measure everything that you can – your success rate, your failure rate, where did customers come from initially? Why did they buy? Why didn’t they buy? It sounds like a lot initially but you can do some of this very easily for example set up a tally sheet for a few things you can track easily and add a mark each time it happens. This can be as simple as a few categories like: Did not buy due to not in stock, Sold more than 3 items in a single sale, Sold over $50 in one sale. Start small – yet think BIG.