Smart selling this weekend


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“There’s no such thing as hard sell and soft sell. There’s only smart sell and stupid sell.”  – Leo Burnett

I couldn’t agree more with the above quote.  Any selling approach that can be perceived by customers as hard selling is just plain stupid.  Fortunately, there is really very little “hard” selling in retail.  

A bigger issue than hard selling is “non-selling.”  Non-selling is when clerks try to help customers even though they add zero value to the customer’s experience.  I’d say non-selling happens in 80% or more of most employee to customer interactions.

Using Leo Burnett’s approach, non-selling is stupid selling.  A company may call it selling, but it’s not.  It’s non-selling.

What’s the difference between smart selling and stupid selling?

The difference comes down to several factors, but three key elements stand out.

1. The goal in smart retail selling is to deliver a great customer experience that results in an immediate or future sale.  A great experience means the customer feels better leaving the store than when he/she came in.  Stalking and/or annoying one’s customers will not accomplish that goal.

2. Stupid selling talks at customers.  Smart selling is a conversation that adds value to a customer’s experience, and his/her purchase process and decision.

3. A smart selling staff develops a connection with each customer, resulting in a level of trust during the visit and purchase process. A stupid selling staff doesn’t even try to do that.

Stupid selling is easy. Smart selling isn’t. It’s not easy to connect with customers, build relationships and trust, and deliver a great experience that results in a sale, but specialty retailers who can’t (or won’t) sell smart will be marginalized over time.

Let’s make this actionable for the weekend.   

Here are three quick tips for improving your conversation with your customer.

1. Engage with customers as if a mutual friend has just introduced you. Salespeople often talk to customers as if they’re complete strangers.  And while that is, in fact, usually the case, we don’t build relationships with strangers.  When a customer walks in the door, think of him/her as a new acquaintance.  It’s a subtle but very large difference.

2. Avoid asking closed-ended questions. If you asked only closed-ended questions to someone you just met it would probably result in awkward silences and a quick end to the conversation.  I’ve had stores increase their sales by 20% simply by eliminating closed-ended questions.

3.  Respond when your customer shares anything personal.  If a customer says, “I need a dress for my 20th wedding anniversary,” acknowledge this personal statement. In this case you would probably congratulate her and maybe ask what the big plans are. Pretty simple, isn’t it? That’s how you build that personal connection.

Well, it might be simple for you and for some members of your team, but it doesn’t come easily for everyone.   This is a skill that comes naturally for some people and not for others, but if a person doesn’t learn and practice this skill he/she will struggle to develop the relationship and level of trust necessary to truly sell smart.

So let me ask, are you selling smart? How smart can you be this weekend?

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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