Most retailers tend to be reactive versus proactive., especially when it comes to selling. Even though their existence depends on increasing their revenue, very few take a proactive approach to selling. The exceptions tend to be stores that pay strictly on commission where you end up with aggressive sales people who care only about closing the sale. There is a better way...
A proactive approach does not mean you need to be aggressive. It doesn't mean you try and sell people products and services that you don't need or want. And it doesn't mean you have to pay only on commission.
The key is to help your team realize that when they take the initiative and approach customers in the store they are actually being helpful. They don't have to pounce on customers; in fact, allowing people time to become comfortable in the store is important. Being proactive means taking the initiative to find out what customers are looking for. In certain stores--department, general merchandise, drug stores, etc. this approach isn't necessary. However, in the majority of other retail environments, it can speed up the sales process and improve the level of service your customer's receive.
When you or your team approaches someone, your primary objective is to find out what they are looking for, what they need, and why they want/need that particular item/product. This means asking them a couple of questions, preferably open-ended and listening to their response. The challenge with this approach is that most retail sales associates don't want to appear rude or pushy. Providing they approach the customer with a freindly smile and a genuine interest in helping them, this won't be an issue.
This simple step can make a signifigant difference in your sales because it will give you the opportunity to make recommendations and suggestions. This is another topic which I will address in a future post.