I was recently drawn into a home wares store by a striking artificial plant in the window. I approached the counter (both staff members were standing behind talking) and asked how much it was.
“It’s $400 but it’s sold” came the reply.
“Oh…” I said with disappointment, “are you getting any more in?”
“No, but our (XYZ) store might have one.” (5 miles – 10km away)
I stood there waiting for her to say, “Would you like me to call to check?” But nothing… she just offered me a half smile – you know the one, lips turned up slightly, no teeth visible, and went back to her conversation. Not even an offer to look online … and with such an easy option to “click & ship” these days, it was literally a case of burning money!
I walked out of that store thinking how easy it would have been for her to make $400. She could have simply asked me a few appropriate questions to discover that I also wanted some candles, and a wooden figure that I had been eyeing off a few moments before. But no, after our exchange I convinced myself that there would be a better range somewhere else and left. The sale ended abruptly with me probably never entering that store again. It’s just too easy these days to go somewhere else.
Let’s not talk about how tough it is out there until we can be absolutely certain that we are capturing every customer.
To be successful in retail you need well trained, skilled sales people who will turn, “I’m just looking!” customers into committed regulars who love shopping with you.
I so often hear people say that retail isn’t rocket science but there are many complexities when dealing with people, and I really believe that we don’t give our people the tools to deal with these complexities on a day to day basis. Sure, if you just want “shop assistants” who do little more than offer fake hello’s and restock shelves, then fine, but that isn’t how you’re going to maintain and build a sustainable business.
I am still astonished that so many businesses think they give exceptional service yet so many customers complain about the lack of service… so who has the incorrect perception?
Go shopping … there is such a lack of oomph… passion… interest…. heartbeat… of the people we entrust to “cover the floor”.
The end domino is the customer. The end domino determines whether you are given another shot. If we want to create a flourishing business that is abundant with customers, cash flow and creativity then we need to ensure that whoever touches the customer last, leaves them with such a positive impression that they come back for more.
Many business owners use the excuse, “I don’t want pushy salespeople” fearful that training may create this. Pushy salespeople are a result of companies pressuring their people into achieving sales targets without giving them the skills, attitudes and motivation to excel in sales.
We recently pitched for a training contract with a prospective client who has retail franchisees. The then sceptical GM told us “take the two lowest performing stores and show us what you can do. I don’t like your chances though. They are our most challenging stores. You have three months!”
During the following three months, the team from both stores underwent sales, attitude and performance training, management and coaching skills development and minimal on-the-floor coaching. Within three months these two stores moved from the lowest ranking to the top 10%. Suffice to say that it wasn’t long before the entire company had commenced training with us!
Training is not about simply revving people up and giving false hype which leads to empty results. It’s about creating a solid skills base for your team to build on and continue to grow from. It’s about giving them something bigger to believe in than just “selling” your products. Training is a never ending process, not a one hit wonder. With commitment and dedication to the end domino, the results should speak for themselves.
So many business people want great results; they spend a fortune on marketing, promotional activities, spectacular store fit outs, and yet the one area of their business which can give the greatest return on investment – their people – is given insufficient focus.
I believe we owe it to ourselves and our people to constantly look at ways to improve. If we’re not getting better, then we are getting worse. There is no room in the development of your business to have the “I’ve done it, tried it” attitude.
The sales process is a technique, a skill and an attitude… it’s a dialogue with interest and passion. Ignorance is a dangerous option which will ultimately kill your business.