Friday, October 27, 2006

Retail Sales Training - Ask for the Sale

A national business magazine recently conducted a test of airline call centres. Among other things, they rated;

- the length of time spent on hold
- the friendliness of the agent
- how quickly the transaction was processed
- if the agent tried to close the sale

Not surprisingly, most agents did NOT make an attempt to close the sale after they had provided the information to the caller. This is a common mistake that many retailers fall prey to as well.

Most front-line staff are not taught how to ask a customer for their business. The majority of retail sales staff I talk to, tell me that they don't want to come across as pushy or that they don't want to upset the customer. Yet, if they were taught how to ask for a sale in a professional manner, the store's sales will increase--instantly!

Asking for the sale does not mean you have be aggressive, rude or pushy. If you have followed the rest of the sales process properly, you have earned the right to ask for the sale. And many of your customers expect it.

Learn how to do this by reading my book. Read the first two chapter for free here.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Retail Sales Training - Are Policies Hurting Your Business?

A customer’s purchase is overcharged by $10.00. The store policy is clear… “No cash refunds” so the sales associate refuses to issue the refund even though the mistake was hers. The customer was told he would have to accept a store credit or wait for a cheque to be issued by head office.

A customer wants to exchange a sale item she bought three hours earlier but the store policy states, “All sales are final.” The employee adamantly refuses to exchange the item for the customer.

What is the likelihood that these customers will buy from those stores again? As a customer, do you like being told, “That’s our policy?” I highly doubt it.

We all know that policies are instituted for a reason – to protect the company and reduce their liability. However, in many situations, policies are put into place to manage a tiny portion of the business – people who look for ways to exploit your business or who try to get something for nothing. Unfortunately, these policies are designed to control the minority rather than the majority.

There is no question that some people will take advantage of liberal and flexibly policies. However, my experience has taught me that these individuals are far and few between. Case in point; when I published my first book, I offered an unconditional money-back guarantee to anyone who did not feel the concepts would help them improve their business. My publisher was distraught about this decision, telling me that I was setting myself to be taken advantage of. Later, I extended this policy to the products I started selling on-line. In the last 4 years I have sold over 7000 copies of my book and many thousand of dollars of other products but I have only issued 2 refunds. Was the risk worth the reward? Absolutely!

Here is another example. One of my first clients expressed concern about doing business with an unknown vendor (me). When she asked what would happen if she wasn’t satisfied with the program I was going to develop for her, I told her that she wouldn’t pay. I even agreed to include this in my contract with her. Her company is still a client, almost four years later.
Here is something else to consider. When your policies change – which is not uncommon in today’s business world – don’t force existing customers to adhere to the new policy. At the very least give them an grace period to help them adjust to the new procedures.

The easier you make it for someone to do business with you, the more business they will generate, providing of course, you offer a good product at a fair price. I firmly believe that flexible policies can help a business gain more market share.

Many people are hesitant to do business with someone they have not purchased from in the past. And for good reason, they have been sold goods and services that have not lived up to their expectations. Reduce their concern and hesitation by making it easy and risk-free to buy from you. Evaluate the policies you have implemented over the years and look at them from a customer’s perspective. They may be costing you business.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Retail Sales Training - Make the Most of Christmas

I know Christmas is still 2 1/2 months aways but for most retailers, this is the make or break season of their year. If you are a specialty retailer who experiences a huge upswing in business during this time of year, here is a tip to increase your sales even more.

Contact your regular customers now and invite them to make their Christmas purchase(s) early. You can tell them that you will be able to spend more time with them before the December crunch hits. You can also remind them that inventory levels are better during late October and early November which means they are more likely to find the items they need. Some customers might express concern about Christmas sales and specials. Consider making these specials available to them--if they come in early.

This approach not only shows your customers that you are thinking about them, it gets them in your store BEFORE the real Christmas crunch. This also means that you can increase your October and November sales and free up your time in December to deal with all the walk-in traffic.

While you're thinking about Christmas, consider buying your employees a copy of my book, "Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to turn Browsers into Buyers". You can read the first two chapters here.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Retail Sales Training - Avoid the Under Sell

Long-time subscribers of my weekly newsletter may know that I used to be an avid runner, having completed a couple of marathons and several other running events. I am now getting back into the sport and need a new watch with a few specific features.

I ventured into one store and briefly explained what I was looking for. Much to my surprise, the first—and only question—the sales associate asked was, “How much do you want to spend?” Until that point, I hadn’t thought too much about my budget—I was more concerned with finding something to meet my specific needs. However, without thinking, I blurted out “As little as possible” and she immediately showed me a basic watch with the features I wanted.

After leaving the store, I couldn’t help but think that she short-changed the sale by focusing strictly on price. If she had asked me a couple of questions about my running regime, habits, goals and objectives, it is very possible that she could have recommended a more expensive watch. While I never recommend that you sell people goods and services that they don’t need or want, I believe it’s important not to under-sell either. Most people will spend more if they are given the opportunity.