Attracting visitors to your store through occasional promotions, events, and a killer website is a great start, but how do you turn those visitors into customers?
There are a lot of ways… like having well-appointed and serviced fitting rooms, by providing sufficient mirrors, by making the goal of your salespeople to make a connection…all can help create a shopping experience that makes customers want to buy your products at your regular prices.
That connection is the most important factor, as it is the springboard for dialogue between shopper and salesperson. The rapport that follows is the stickiness that creates loyal customers.
Look up the definition of rapport sometime. Never mind, here it is:
“A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
How often do you believe your customers leave your store feeling this way about their experience?
How often do your customers feel like they had any relationship with the person who rang up their purchase, let alone a close and harmonious one?
I’m guessing if you’re like most retailers, not often.
Discover how to provide excellent retail customer service with this comprehensive primer
The Lost Art of Conversation
Too many younger salespeople have never developed their ability to communicate on a truly personal level. Without that ability, there is no hope of building rapport.
Customers see the this lack of communication in employees who are just standing around in front of their stores.
They see those employees with their hands in their pockets avoiding eye contact with customers.
They see those same employees playing with their phones while completely ignoring the customers around them.
Many older customers often complain that when one of these employees does talk, it often is in monosyllabic answers that only come as a result of the customer’s prompting.
That has to change if you want to be in business next year.
If your sales staff is no more personable than a computer screen, your customers might as well shop online.
And once you’re in direct competition with those online retailers, markdowns will haunt your shelves.
A Change for the Better
So, how do you get your sales staff into the game? I’ve heard some retailers tell their staff to treat customers like family. But not everyone thinks of family dynamics as a good thing…just sayin’.
Of course, by telling them things like that, you haven’t really told them anything.
What you need is to give them concrete sales training that completely alters the way they view interpersonal communications, the products they sell, and the people they sell them to.
To help you get your salespeople off the sidelines and talking in full sentences…
• Quick Connect. Talk to customers within 15 seconds of them entering the store. You don’t need a sales pitch; just a greeting, a thanks for coming in or a Welcome. You’ve established yourself as an advisor and you’ve made the customer feel welcome – all without them having to tell you they are fine, or they are not looking for anything special, or they aren’t interested in your help.
• Listen First. You want the customer to carry the conversation. If you’ll just invite them to, they’ll tell you about their day, what they’re looking for, and the problems they’re having with their current product – a whole world of information. Instead of rolling your eyes and wondering when you can point to where an item is or deliver the same sales pitch, realize that they’re telling you everything you need to know to make a sale. And your day interesting. Listen and be in the moment.
• It’s About Them. You may not be able to afford the items you sell. That’s OK, you’re not the one you’re selling to. You may be from a different generation than the customer. That’s OK too. You may prefer bargain shopping. That’s OK. You’re not here to be shopping, you’re employed to be selling. If you want your day to go faster and not be bored, then you need to make yourself interested in another person first. Get over yourself, and get on board with making the experience positive and memorable for both you and your customer.
Treat the Disease, not the Symptoms
Retailers use markdowns, discounts and coupons because they can move merchandise out. Unfortunately, they don’t move as much revenue in. When you give 20% off a $100 sale, you actually need to sell an extra $40 to make up the difference in profit. And that’s just on $100 – multiply that by a week’s promo sale and you’ll squirm. Those discounts are a band-aid on a broken or nonexistent sales process.
See also, Hey Retailers! Nordstrom’s Customer Service Problems Are Yours Too
You can no longer say how much you value your customers and schedule one or two-person coverage.
You can no longer say how exclusive your merchandise is and have sale signs blanketing your counters.
You can’t say you provide an excellent shopping experience when you leave your dressing rooms unstaffed and loaded with prior customers’ throwbacks.
You’ve tried giving your profits away…
How about improving your customer experience today?
If you do, the sales will follow.
To learn more about customer service, check these out:
How Engaging Is Your Store’s Customer Experience? Take This Quiz