Musings on fundamentals, hiring, selling, and the customer experience


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Random thoughts on various but connected topics:

Spring training fundamentals

The other day I was at a baseball spring training complex watching a group of major league pitchers working on fielding fundamentals. These weren’t rookies. Some of these guys pitched in the last World Series, and here they are practicing fielding scenarios they’ve probably been practicing since Little League.

How often are you and your team practicing the fundamentals? Roleplaying and practicing engaging a customer, getting try-ons, showing and suggesting additional products, etc. It’s not that the team can’t do these things but the more they practice, the better they can create additional sales opportunities.

My hiring acid test

If you’re like me, you’ve hired some amazing people who completely exceeded your expectations. You’ve also probably hired some duds. It happens. Staying with the baseball theme, rarely does a manager have a 1.000 hiring average.

You can ask the best interview questions, and even have the applicant take an employment aptitude test, but in the long run it still comes down to you making an educated guess as to whether or not that person is the best candidate for the job.

That’s why I use what I call the hiring acid test. You only make an offer to someone about whom you are so excited that you call a friend or colleague and tell him/her about the person. And you can give your friend or colleague at least three specific reasons why the person is going to be amazing at your store.  

Using the hiring acid tests helps in a couple of ways. First, you won’t make a compromise hire. If it’s a compromise hire, chances are you won’t muster enough excitement to even call the friend or colleague, but even if you did you couldn’t come up with the three specific reasons.

It also keeps you from hiring someone just because they previously worked for a great company. (Something I’ll admit I’ve done more than once.) You might be excited enough to call the friend or colleague about the applicant, but you may or may not be able to give specific reasons this person will make a big impact on your business.

Try it out. You might find that it takes a little longer to hire someone, but I bet you’ll find you hire even stronger people.

Being sales-focused

A (now) former reader of my newsletter sent me an email saying she was unsubscribing because I’m too sales-focused.  This is a woman I met at a show and who asked for my advice since her sales were in a three-year decline.

Yes, ma’am, I’m guilty as charged.  I am sales-focused.  Retail IS selling.  If someone is buying that means someone is selling. Obviously, that someone isn’t her.

I don’t advocate being pushy. In fact, all of my work is grounded in the customer experience, and has been for twenty years. Being pushy would not be a great experience. That’s not what a customer would want to come back for.

I guarantee that anyone who works in retail and says, “We don’t sell.” or “I don’t like to sell” is missing a large number of opportunities.  I don’t know about you, but I believe the most important thing we do is help a customer walk out the store with as many of the wonderful products we sell as possible.

Here’s the difference between a sales person and a retail clerk: A sales person adds value to a customer’s experience by helping him purchase products that are right for him. A clerk adds little (if any) value to the experience, and has been replaced by the Internet.

I don’t care if you work at a hardware store, a boutique, a jewelry store or any other type of retail. We should be proud we sell at retail. If you’re not, sooner or later you’ll be something much worse… unemployed.

Apropos of Nothing

* You might want to share today’s sales-focus piece with your staff. It’s essential that they see themselves in sales.

* What’s your current plan to increase your staff’s Average Daily Sale (ADS) or Transactions Per Hour (TPH)? If there is no plan, you’re missing an incredible opportunity to focus your team and help them be more successful.

* When you call your store is the greeting warm, friendly, and in a conversational tone? Or does it sound more like, “ThankyouforcallingthisretailstorehowmayIhelpyou?”

Have a great sales week!

– Doug 

* I have two spots left in my next four week coaching program that begins tomorrow. Reserve your place here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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