Rediscovering the art of selling

Intro: Even after researching products on their own, many customers still enter stores undecided about what to buy. For retailers, that’s an opportunity.

Key Points:

  • Recently, the industry has been missing opportunities to make sales. New technologies, extensive retailer Web sites, mobile-shopping tools, and in-store Internet kiosks have separated customers from sales associates
  • Many retailers assume that customers walk into stores for purely transactional purposes: they know what they want and just need to buy it. Yet McKinsey research indicates that as many as 40 percent of customers remain open to persuasion once they enter a store
  • Many retail executives argue they can’t afford to provide high-value sales help. Simple arithmetic suggests they can’t afford not to. It’s true that adding frontline staff that can sell effectively is costly and takes time, and we’re not suggesting a return to an old-fashioned, expensive, labor-intensive sales system. But there’s a powerful and straightforward business case for investing in frontline sales staff: when done correctly, adding salespeople offers one of the more attractive payback opportunities in retail
  • Watch skilled salespeople at work and you soon realize that while selling is an art that can be approached in a variety of ways, it boils down to four basic steps: open, ask for needs, demonstrate, and close. Surprisingly few frontline sales associates know these steps well, and fewer do all four consistently
  • Effective sellers share common traits: they are motivated by helping customers, have extroverted personalities, and are passionate about their work. Our research indicates that, at most, 45 percent of frontline employees across multiple retailing sectors have the personality and attributes to be effective sellers
  • Better visual merchandising can make a big difference in helping consumers make certain buying decisions, accelerating the payback on frontline staff. Consider one self-help retailer that simplified its point-of-sale signage for digital cameras to make comparing products easier for both consumers and sales staff. Rather than using technological jargon such as megapixels and zoom sizes, the retailer instead used “photo-enlargement sizes” and “distance to picture object.” Memory cards emphasized the number of photographs a card could hold, rather than describing them in gigabytes. Because sales staff could use the visual displays as a way to sell products to customers without having to memorize technical details, they were more confident and achieved more sales per hour
  • Paying attention to all kinds of customer behaviors remains invaluable, despite the unprecedented access to product information, reviews, and prices that consumers have online

My Take: You don’t need salesmen anymore, you need Customer Service Representitive, from pre-buy, to post-buy. Just like you won’t work on volume and low margin anymore, but you will differentiate yourself on service. And it starts in the store!

Another interesting article in this sense is this one

Links: and

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