If you’re working in retail then it’s likely you’ve had a whole range of experiences with customers from the enthusiastic sale to the full on hostile. But you can’t put your finger on what goes wrong when you see the customer walk out the door? It takes time to learn the subtle arts of reading non-verbal cues, but with practice you can begin to read people in an instant and know exactly when to push for a sale. This article takes you from first impressions to cashing up and will turn you into a retail sale machine.
Making Customers Feel Comfortable
People like to hang on to their cash – that’s a certainty in life. So when you’re seeking to make a sale you’re trying to overcome this instinct. In order for customers to be purchasing in a retail environment, the first thing you need to do is let them feel comfortable, earn their trust and keep them from getting defensive. In 2020, that’s harder than ever due to Covid-19’s spread across the globe – people are less comfortable in the public sphere. Ensure customers feel safe in your store by designing a physical layout that emphasises the space, and communication about your health and safety measures. These can involve both signage in store as well as missives from your social media. Once you have people feeling comfortable, the space for a sale is opened.
The First Big Mistake
Before we begin to understand how to disarm customers within moments of them entering the store and get them on the road to buying we need to understand what not to do. Too frequently, overzealous salespeople alienate their customers in the first few seconds of an encounter. As we’ve said above, the priority is to make a customer feel safe and comfortable in your store. That’ll ensure they stick around and you can begin to apply your advanced selling tactics. What you don’t want is to see them do an about turn back onto the street.
The first big mistake is to seem desperate. Oftentimes those working in retail are so desperate to make a sale that they launch in with an introduction and a handshake before the customer is settled in. “This invasion of personal space, at a time when a customer is still acclimatising to a new environment, can make them feel desperately uncomfortable,” says Keith Neville, business writer at Academized and Eliteassignmenthelp. “Our top tip to start a sale off right is to give them space – welcome customers with a simple “good morning” or “good afternoon” and let them settle in.”
Once a customer is comfortable in your store, you can start employing some sales tactics. The first skill to learn is the practice of active listening. Active listening takes time to learn and it means overcoming some very natural impulses. But ultimately it will show customers that you’re engaging with them on an authentic level, building trust and ultimately allowing them to open their wallets.
Amelia McGraw, retail expert at Essay Services and UK Writings explains that “you use your whole body in active listening, open your stance and nod to indicate that you’re taking everything in. Don’t latch on to any single statement – listen patiently until you can respond genuinely to the customers concerns.”
As well as active listening, which encourages a relationship of trust to be built with the customer, body language can be very important on both sides. Reading a customer’s body language can tell you whether or not you should be investing your time in them. If they’re not making eye contact, you can be pretty sure they’re not interested. This is when “Let me know if I can help with anything else” can enter your vocabulary.
If the customer seems interested, and eye contact and hand gestures are telling you that, begin mirroring their body language. This creates an instant connection that no human can ignore. Matching a customer’s body language at the beginning of an interaction will get them onside, make them more likely to trust you and ultimately more likely to make a purchase.
Customers can sometimes seem like a different breed entirely, but with time and a little patience you can teach yourself to understand these non-verbal cues that reveal a whole new language of sales. Don’t rush into an interaction with a customer but once they’ve settled in you’ll have the tools to sell, sell, sell!