May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Last week a retailer emailed me with a problem: “Some members of my sales team are losing sales at the last moment. I’ve been in business 20 years, and nothing ticks me off more than when I watch a salesperson lose what appears to be an easy sale. In my head, it’s a slam dunk. What’s up with these people? Have they forgotten how to close?”
I give this retailer a lot of credit for not jumping into the middle of the sale; it must have taken a lot of discipline. If it were me, I would have been on my feet, selling and yelling, in hopes I could save the sale. If the sale seems imminent, ready to close and then vanishes, it sounds like there’s a failure to ask for the sale.
Salespeople are often obsessed with closing a sale. They push features and benefits in hopes that they will make it happen. By presenting features and benefits, we are also assuming that buying decisions are all logical. Research tells us that not engaging the emotional part of the brain is a huge mistake. For example, think about the last time you bought a car. You were interested in the car, gas mileage or service schedule, etc., but it’s likely when you got in the car you were more engaged with the new car’s look and smell.
With today’s consumer, the key is to open the sale with conversation not a sales pitch. Customers have plenty of information from the Internet. If they are in your store, they are looking more for a patient friend than an aggressive salesperson. There’s no need to rush the customer. It’s important to be where the customer is, not where you want them to be.
Savvy salespeople know that closing the sale relies on a series of sales conversations with the customer. Closing doesn’t happen by itself and its doubtful the customer will say, “I’ll take it,” as soon as you show her the flooring she asks for. Everything the salesperson says on the front end of the sale is in preparation for the closing. The Internet has changed the salesperson’s role in the sale, but if the customer is in the store, he needs help from the salesperson.
Successful salespeople work to develop a trusting relationship with their customers. Without one, the customer is not going to buy no matter what. The goal is to connect with the customer on a personal level. You may have friends in common, kids who attend the same school or you might like the same sports team.
The only place where a relationship may be unwanted is at The Dollar Store or any other off-price store. In these places, the salesperson’s main job is making sure the merchandise is on the shelves.
Building a solid relationship is the key to the sales process. Closing a sale is natural—providing you have done the right preparation. During the sale, it’s smart to check in with the customer, ask if she is getting the information she needs and how you’re doing. When the customer is satisfied, and you are confident, ask for the sale.
Enjoy your time with the customer. There’s no need to increase the pressure, in fact, that method can backfire big-time. Be yourself and engage her. You want the customer to have a positive feeling about you—she will be your connection to your next customer.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.