As a retailer, you use a wealth of resources to get people to walk through your door. But while traffic is crucial, it’s only the beginning: what do you do to generate sales once the shoppers come inside?
Artful display isn’t enough; sometimes products meet a need so well that they sell themselves, but that’s rarely the case. Rather than leaving your sales to chance or innate sales talent, there are some effective selling techniques you can teach your staff and/or apply directly yourself.
Here, we’ll look at 13 sales tips that can help you sell your products. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced salesperson, these tips can help you make more sales, drive more revenue, and build greater customer loyalty.
13 advanced sales tips every salesperson should use
- Sell solutions to pain points
- Focus on quality conversations with quality customers
- Understand your customers
- Offer product demos
- Give free samples
- Always follow up
- Encourage referrals
- Share customer stories
- Perfect your sales pitch
- Be an active listener
- Upsell higher-quality products
- Cross-sell complementary products
- Track and improve sales performance
1. Sell solutions to pain points
Rather than focusing on the price of a product, explain how it can benefit the customer and add value to their lives. How is it enjoyable or useful? How can it solve a specific problem?
Focusing on value, rather than technical product knowledge, can help you avoid discounting just to move inventory. It’ll also help you educate customers about each product’s unique features and benefits.
For example, “This skincare bundle includes a face cleanser, toner, and oil, so you’ll have everything you need for your morning and evening skincare routine.” Then you can go into detail about the benefits of each product as well as how well they work together for specific skin types (depending on the customer’s needs).
2. Focus on quality conversations with quality customers
Instead of surface-level conversations about the weather, get to know your potential customers. This type of sales conversation allows you to dig deeper into a prospect’s pain points, and act as the entry point for your pitch (more on that later).
Need some ideas on how to start the conversation? Try these open-ended questions to kick off a new customer interaction:
- How can I help you?
- What brought you to our store/website today?
- Who are you shopping for?
3. Understand your customers
Customers often raise objections to products within a few minutes of a sales conversation. A great salesperson takes this as a cue to personalize their sales approach.
If in the first conversation a customer tells you they’re struggling to find a baby carrier that doesn’t hurt their back, for example, empathize with them. Explain how you have two young children and that you went to the doctors with back pain problems, too.
As Suzanne Sachs, president of Vintage Diamond Ring, says, “Any business can have a logo and a product, but when a consumer can turn to a company and know their purchases say something about who they are and what matters to them, it falls into a different category. When you connect with them on that level, you are able to tap into their world.”
4. Offer product demos
Customers might be hesitant to purchase a new product if they’re unsure about how it works. Take inspiration from TV shopping channels, and grab a prospect’s attention by demonstrating how potential customers can use the product they’re thinking of buying.
If you’re selling cleaning products, for example, have a small tile that you can splash grease on. Bring out the tile and spray your cleaning solution on it. Show how good it is at cleaning tough grease they’d find in their own kitchen. They see how it’ll make their life easier immediately.
Better still: if customers aren’t paying attention, have them try the product themselves. It’s this type of experiential retail 81% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for.
5. Give free samples
If you don’t have a product or service to demonstrate, consider creating smaller versions of your product and giving them away for free. It’s a sales technique made popular by wholesalers like Costco because it shows people why they should spend their hard-earned money with you.
Hannah Nash, co-founder of Lucy Nash, says offering free samples “will allow customers to interact with the product and get a taste of what they're buying. Plus, it's a great way to generate word-of-mouth marketing—if customers love the product, they'll likely tell their friends about it.
“After the customers interact, a great way to increase sales is to provide stories on satisfied customers,” says Nash. “This demonstrates that you're not just another retailer—you're somebody who goes above and beyond for your customers. It builds trust, and customers are more likely to buy from someone they trust.”
6. Always follow up
As with most things in life, persistence is key. But when it comes to sales, the best salespeople dance on the fine line between being persistent and being pushy.
Following up before the sale is important to convert new customers; equally important is keeping in touch after the sale to encourage repeat purchases.
When following up, don’t act desperate. It doesn’t matter how much you want or need to make the sale to reach your sales goals or grow your business—never make customers feel like you’re just in it for the money. You’ll always want to make customers feel like you’re helping them and providing value versus them helping you.
7. Encourage referrals
One of the best sales tips is to let your previous customers do the talking. Studies show 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, making customer referrals crucial in any retail setting.
Here are a few ways to encourage referrals:
- Create a referral program that lets customers earn points or rewards for each new customer they refer to your retail business.
- Focus on building relationships with customers in-store to create a more memorable experience; people will naturally share this positive experience with friends and family.
- Run contests or special offers in-store where existing customers who bring in a friend or family member during a set period can earn discounts or freebies.
8. Share customer stories
Collecting customer testimonials and reviews and sharing user-generated content (UGC) are all forms of social proof that can be used online to bolster sales. But you can also use customer stories in person to build trust and increase sales.
If you’re selling skincare products, for example, the following could influence a prospect’s buying decision: “In the last month, many women in their 30s benefited from using our best-selling face oil. When their skin started clearing up–in one week–they came back to buy the cleanser and lotion too.”
When you’re sharing customer stories, two things to think about are:
- How did your product(s) help people?
- Have customers come back to buy more of the same or similar products?
Pull customer stories from online reviews and UGC posted on social media and use them to incorporate social proof into in-person selling.
Seeing what other people like themselves think of the product almost always guarantees a sale for us. This is why we have an iPad at each location for easy access.
9. Perfect your sales pitch
A sales pitch is a short presentation aimed at convincing a potential customer to make a purchase.
Use the elevator pitch approach—a two-minute speech that educates people without overwhelming them with too much information. Briefly explain what your business is, who it helps, and why the product or service should be bought.
Most importantly, never bad-mouth a competitor in your pitch; it can make prospects feel uncomfortable. You can benchmark product quality or price, and angle your business as the better option, without being too negative.
Ask your customers what they're looking for and how you can help, they'll tell you. Then you can adjust your pitch to meet their needs, and create happy customers.
10. Be an active listener
By actively listening to customers you can understand them better, personalize your approach, and make the right product recommendations. But what does active listening actually mean?
Just standing in front of shoppers silently while they talk isn’t how it works. Here are a few tips to help sales reps improve active listening skills:
- Avoid forming a response while the customer is speaking. Instead, listen attentively and refrain from interrupting or completing their sentences.
- Show you’re engaged with body language. Having an open stance and nodding your head as the customer speaks will show them you’re listening and processing the conversation.
- Before you respond, briefly summarize what the customer said. This will show the shopper you were listening to everything they said and it can remind them to provide additional details. It will also allow you to formulate your response.
11. Upsell higher quality products
Upselling works by recommending a higher-value product similar to the one a customer has already shown an interest in. Not only does it increase average order value, but there’s a good chance your customer will be more satisfied with their purchase—especially if the higher-price replacement is a better-quality product.
Gerrid Smith, founder and CEO of Joy Organics, explains, “Using cross-selling, you can entice customers to buy complementary products, such as the wedding band for a customer who just bought an engagement ring.
“Customers are upsold to more expensive alternatives to the products they initially viewed. If you think it's within their price range, show them a $1,500 engagement ring as an alternative to the $1,000 one they're contemplating and explain why it's better.”
12. Cross-sell complementary products
Cross-selling works by recommending products that complement the one your customer is already browsing. If they’re looking at a cast-iron skillet, for example, recommend matching pots or cutlery sets.
This sales tip results in a win-win situation for everyone involved. Not only do sales reps process a higher-value order, but the customer gets the full package. They’re more likely to get value from their purchase when they have supporting items to maximize its potential.
13. Track and improve sales performance
Regardless of which key sales tip you’re implementing, there’s always room for improvement.
Track whether your techniques are impacting customer experiences by tracking your sales performance with metrics like:
- Average order value. Increasing your AOV by $10 might not sound like much, but it could indicate that the products you’re promoting through cross-sells and upsells are paying off.
- Units per transaction. An increase in the number of units per transaction could signal that each sales professional is answering customer questions well enough to sell several units
- Sales per employee. Find your standout sales professionals and reward them. Pair them up with staff who make fewer sales as part of your sales training program.
- Sales per square foot. Are you maximizing the value of your store? A high sales-per-square-foot rate indicates either that sales reps are using what’s on the floor to generate sales, or that your visual merchandising displays are working, or both.
Implement the best sales tips to increase revenue
Now that you have an abundance of sales tips to try, it’s time to put your new sales strategy into action.
Experiment to find what works best for your business, sales process, and target audience. As long as your product knowledge is top tier and you’re in tune with your customers, you’ll be able to confidently own the sales floor, close deals, and make more sales.
Sales tips FAQ
What are the 5 key sales techniques?
Here are the most important techniques salespeople should work on.
- Active listening
- Social selling
- Upselling and cross-selling
- Free samples or demonstrations
- Sell solutions to a prospect’s pain points
What are the 3 most important tips for a salesperson?
- Listen to your prospects
- Solve their pain points
- Provide personalized product or service recommendations
What are the 7 steps of the sales process?
- Prospecting or lead generation
- Qualifying leads
- Approaching customers on the shop floor or cold calling
- Presenting your products
- Overcoming sales objections
- Closing the deal
- Follow ups
What are the 3 most important things in sales?
- Sincerity to provide the best solution for the customer
- Active listening skills to understand the customer
- Patience as customers make buying decisions