Sales influence starts with you, your team
To be more influential with others, you first need to understand what has influence over you, and that is especially true if you are a retailer and you want to influence sales in your store and how your team approaches the sale, said Merit Kahn of Merit-based Professional Development in the opening business session of the International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Market in Denver, Colo., in mid-January.
Kahn has experience and certifications in both emotional intelligence and cultural transformation giving her a unique perspective on sales, leadership, communication, change and success.
When determining what products to bring into your store, Kahn told retailers to consider if a product solves a problem for your customer as well as its feature and benefits. “Consumers buy things for different reasons,” she said, noting that it is critical to listen to what the customer is really looking for when they come into the store.
That listening process, according to Kahn, starts with how you and your team first greet a customer. Rather than asking if you can help them, she suggests leading with a greeting that is more along the lines of “Are you open to seeing some of the new things in the store?” or “Are you open to seeing what we have that I think you might like?”
Kahn used a pink hat as an example. Saying that as a customer she might come into the store looking for a pink hat but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be open to other hats if they too made her look cute. It’s about opening a customer’s mind and then getting them to buy when they are in the store rather than going elsewhere or online as they finalize their decision.
Given that there is a direct relationship between how one sells and how one buys, Kahn recommends asking each of your store’s sales associates to tell you how they buy and make purchase decisions. This is very telling and provides insight into what excuses that employee will accept from a customer in the buying process. It is important to recognize those gaps and close them, she said.
Critical to any retail operation is a good new employee onboarding process. Kahn said if you don’t have a training program then you are left looking for an employee that is already good at selling and that really limits the candidate pool.
Once an employee is brought on board it is important to teach them the culture of the business. They need to understand that integrity and customer service, for instance, are what all decisions are based on. They need to understand that it is about going the extra mile for customers, said Kahn. She also recommends getting a new employee with the rest of the team on the very first day. Building connections amongst the team is an important first step and also helps you as the manager determine if you made a good hire that is going to fit in and help grow the business.