By Brian Walker – The Retail Doctor Group

Despite so much commentary on 'how to survive in a recession, there are some straightforward business tips that don’t often get mentioned – and will help retailers quickly.

Let’s start with an area that surprisingly is often overlooked being the noble art of retail selling:

Fiction: Every trained sales person can engage the customer in a non business approach, assess customer needs through skillful questioning,

retain the vital information, ready for playback at a later stage, and then skillfully introduce the product to the customer, through to a benefits laden package, based on customer needs to the right product.

But wait: it gets better than this when this skilled salesperson effortlessly bundles the add on to the package of product that the customer simply must have. Elated, the customer leaves the store ready to tell 20+ other advocates and turn them into evangelists for that business brand customer experience.

Fact: Some sales people actually don’t know how to sell very well. A smiling face, sunny disposition, and helpful style is nice and important although many of these sales people simply can’t get their name on the top fve sales for the month board. Through no fault of their own, their contribution can be overlooked as the 150 steps of a
sale program or worse still, the “we cut training” mentality can take over. This can result in a stumbled product features download (where blurting out 50 product features, coupled with this will suit you, or this will look good etc ), even shyness or worse still marginal salesperson disinterest.

The greatest asset that a sales person can have is to be a strong active listener, confident with the right degree of humility and genuine interest in the customer

Let me elaborate on the first principle of retail selling: Sell more to the ones you have than the ones you wish you had. So this begs the question, are we selling more to the customers we have and how are we measuring this? Do we have items per sale, average sale, and gross sales by team member targets?

Are we staying fit on the sales floor by lifting our average sales target by X% and then setting out to up skill our team members to deliver the numbers? Do we have start up meetings and daily sales targets? Are our bonus systems geared to recognising the larger average and items per sale? Are we setting our people up to win?. Are we using average sale and the growth in average sale as motivators in our team and are people actually winning?

For example, what would the effect be on your bottom line be if transactions stayed static although average sales were up by 10% +, items per sale rose by one or whatever numbers you need, to make the point that selling more to the customers you have is a vital objective in today’s environment.

We see plenty of selling data across a large range of retailers and one area where opportunity is lost consistently is the add on or up sell, yet this is just profit walking out the door. Once again, a strong sales strategy will never deliver if the investment in selling skills and performance frameworks are not in place. Can you imagine, the increase in profit if you could generate 20% + in add -n sales through converting one in three or four customers with an add-on sale?

The right sales training supported by an effective people framework and specifically merchandised assortments will go a long way to delivering these increases and help you stay fit and resilient in today’s market.

Remember that somewhere between 70% – 80% of purchases are impulse (as you have seen me say) and by definition these people will buy that add-on with their product purchase, if only somebody would ask.
Happy “Fit” retailing

The Retail Doctor