How to be a Great Salesperson
I was observing a salesperson in a store where I was doing consulting not too long ago. This young lady was a very talented salesperson. She was neat, smiling with an almost contagious positive attitude — and that’s just for starters. After all, if we don’t like the person we're doing business with, we'll very rarely buy from that person. This salesperson was likeable. She had mastered the skills of listening attentively and gave strategic compliments in the most sincere of ways. She seemed to have the most important parts of "The Retail Sales Bible: The Great Book of G.R.E.A.T. Selling" under control.
This salesperson greeted consumers by saying, “thanks for coming in,” which, not expecting such a positive greeting, took them by surprise. She engaged consumers in conversation and showed a truly seamless transition from the “G” — greeting — to the “R” — researching — by simply asking them questions to better understand their wants and needs.
Again, she was masterful in asking questions that helped to determine the consumer's needs, wants and even desires. She was able to even find out the price range the consumer was interested in. Consumers don’t always buy better merchandise; it depends on the priorities of the merchandise they're buying.
I noticed her name tag and saw her name was Sue. Sue asked more questions than most doctors do when they're diagnosing a rare disease. When it came time to move to the “E” — experimenting — or suggesting phase of the sale, Sue had more information and better understood the shopper. Therefore, her recommendations were right on target and she knew exactly the right outfit to offer the consumer. Turns out the consumer purchased the outfit and was so thrilled with the suggestions that Sue made that she picked up her cell phone to call her friends and told them to come right to the store and ask for Sue.
Sue did a first-class job, but here’s the part that made all of her work almost worthless. Let me recap what just took place: Sue established likeability, greeted the customer properly, asked the right questions for her research so she could be more knowledgeable about the customer, offered an outfit and made the sale. The customer then left and that’s when I went ballistic. Why?
The sales process wasn't completed. Sue never suggested anything else for the customer to purchase that would have enhanced what she was buying. She actually did the customer a disservice by not making an attempt to accessorize what they were buying. Almost any product can be accessorized. If you're selling a can of paint, a brush is an accessory; if you're selling a diamond ring, a cleaning system is an accessory; and so on.
Sue did every step perfectly but failed to follow through. She sent that customer away to go to another store to buy something else. Needless to say, it was a lost sale, lost revenue and lost opportunity to further bond with that customer. Worse than that, it’s bad customer service because she's forcing a customer to go to another store to pick up a scarf, belt, earrings or anything else that would accent the original purchase.
Doing this would make Sue a valued resource rather than just a pleasant salesperson. This is one of the major advantages an independent store has over a department store, where there are different people controlling different departments. A specialty store is special because it controls the complete sale.
Now if that wasn’t bad enough, and it's pretty bad, Sue also forgot two more things. The other type of add-on sale that Sue forgot was the unrelated suggestion — i.e., something that's not accessorizing the original item but rather a suggestion based on all of the information she learned about the customer. Again, this was a lost opportunity. The last miscue is the “T” — tethering — which is collecting pertinent data about that customer so that Sue could invite her to come back again and again.
The customer liked Sue and hopefully will return; that is, if she didn’t leave that store and go to another one. Hopefully the customer didn’t meet up with a salesperson who also asked the right questions, made the right suggestions, suggested additional items to go with what she was buying and collected information so that she could be contacted in the future.
Don’t let this scenario happen in your store.
Rick Segel is author of "The Retail Sales Bible: The Great Book of G.R.E.A.T. Selling." Rick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.