Chapter 9: The Retail Sales Cycle
So now you have your store. You have the perfect location. You have a great staff but we still need to train them in sales. I always joke that it's five easy steps. None of them are easy and there's a lot more than five.
I should take a moment now and talk about this. I am not a fan of commission sales and I'll tell you why. I feel that commissions make people either really aggressive, and you've all had that terrible experience, or really lazy. We've all had an experience when we help ourselves at a store and then at the last minute somebody runs up to you and says, "Hey, my name is Margie." Great. "Well, Margie, where were you five minutes ago when I needed a size." Right?
I really am a fan of building a team and I really feel that when you have a team together it becomes like Survivor. If one man isn't pulling his own weight, they vote him off the island and that's really what you want. In order to get there you have to recruit correctly and you have to spend the time to train them.
A quick sales training is this. The first thing is, it's all about how you greet the customer. In New York City where I'm from, a head nod is a big greeting. That's enough. The other thing about New York City is that I could be 2 feet in front of you and I'm not in your face because 2 minutes ago I was shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody on a subway. But in the South or in other parts of the country, you need to have a distance because they live in big houses, they drive in cars by themselves and they're used to having a lot of space. Not being in their face is really important when you greet. The tone of your voice. The pitch of your voice, the actual words that you use.
Again, going back to New York, a quick, "Hey," is enough. It's a greeting. It's a proper greeting and I'm not in your face. But now in the South, a really warm, embracing greeting like, "Hey, how are you? You're not from around here. Come on in and let me tell you about my story." As a Southerner, that would probably be appropriate. As somebody from New York, I would run out of the store.
Understanding who you're talking to culturally, age, religion, everything, everything has to be profiled in one second. I know there's a lot of political correctness about profiling. You have to be very good at your job and you have to be able to approach people.
The next thing is you want to kind of discover what it is that they really need and not so much what they want. If somebody comes into your store and you have the proper greeting and how they like you and you start a small conversation, "Hey, I'm looking for a black skirt." "Great. Come with me. I have all these black skirts," and you show them a couple of variations.
This is something interesting too, going back to the psychology. You will probably show them the perfect black skirt the first time around and a typical woman will ask you for three more choices. Like, "Oh, what else do you got? What else do you got?" even though that first one was perfect.
Now the idea is that we have the skirt. Let's take them to the dressing room. This is where the team approach is really important because how many times have you been in a dressing room completely naked, trying on your skirt and then there's nobody there to help you. Somebody has to be there to keep up the conversation, to ask more questions. Here's the other thing too.
Now the other person is running around the store finding other variations of the skirt to also have the person try on. Now we're in the dressing room and we ask the question, "What are you going to be using the skirt for?" "Oh, I have a job interview." "How interesting. What kind of job is it?" "Oh, it's at a bank." "Is it your first time working at a bank?" "Yes, it is." "You know what? Hold on a second. Let me get you a blazer, let me get you a couple of blouses." You will find that the more products you put into the dressing room, the more likely they are to buy and to try on.
I don't understand how these stores have this rule like only five items or six items. I know it's a loss prevention trick to do that, to keep track of the things that are going into the dressing room but if you don't have people that can count to seven, eight and nine, then I think we have other problems that we should talk about. Number of items in a dressing room should never be an issue. It's all about the customer service and making sure that they have enough stuff.
This is interesting. Now we have two blazers, a dress, a couple of blouses, a belt, a skirt, a pant. The customer is going to tell you when they're done shopping. They're going to say, "You know what? This is great. I'm going to take this and this." Or, "you know what, I have to pick up the kids from school and I want to take that and that." They will let you know when they're done shopping but until that point, you're going to keep bringing things into their dressing room.
Now it's really important also to close the sale. Again, how many times have you been in the dressing room, very happy with everything you tried on, everything made sense, the sales person was a professional. She ward-robed you so you could make different combinations for the office that you're buying and then what happens? They walk away. You have to be able to trigger out the part of the brain that says, "Okay, I'm going to buy this." If not, trust me when I tell you, you will always talk yourself out of it.
It's a simple dialogue. It's like, "Oh, you're going to be taking this and this? Great. I'm taking you to the register." Because now she's taking you to the register, "I can't back out." Or, something simple like, "How would you like to pay for this?" Now you're thinking about paying so it becomes more tangible that you're actually going to do it.
The last step of the sales that's as equally important is following up. Send a small note. Send a note saying, "Hey listen, we're interested. We're excited to hear about your new job. Come by the store." Anything that's personal, quick and to the point is very important in building those customer relationships.
When training in sales, it's so important to keep in mind building a sales team and great customer service.