Just five simple steps for a November to remember

By Gordon Hecht, Contributor

The leaves are ablaze and pumpkin spice is in everything from coffee to bacon to tofu dogs. You know that autumn is here.

Last week you may have been bombarded by scary people knocking on your door, begging for a handout. No, I don’t mean the politicians, I’m talking about Halloween, when kids say, “Trick or treat!” I’m always prepared to give fresh candy, still in its wrapper so parents know it’s safe. In my neighborhood it can be dangerous — there have been reports of lawless neighbors stuffing Halloween bags with poisonous things like Nevada Wolfpack football tickets.

Very often retail salespeople ask me to share the tricks of the trade to get shoppers to buy. (I kinda think a major change in shoppers is their belief that salespeople are trying to trick them into making a purchase.) There are no tricks that I can share to improve our effort to convert shoppers into buyers.  However, here are five simple, sound and proven steps that successful retail sales associates use to raise their close rates and create raving fans.

1. Work like you have $1 million in the bank. Imagine that you are independently wealthy and selling is just a hobby.  You would give each shopper your undivided concentration, take your time for a full demonstration of every category, make a friend before making a sale, be 100% honest and listen to listen, rather than listen to decide what to say next.

2. Dress for success. This doesn’t mean wearing $2,000 suits to work, but it does mean wearing clean and pressed shirts, blouses, slacks or skirts.  Also shiny shoes, clean fingernails, fresh breath … and a professional name badge (yes, it has value and shows you are a professional). If needed, tone down the aftershave, cologne, perfume or make-up.

3. Don’t win the argument to lose the sale. Once you are in the bed business for two weeks you will have sold more mattresses than most people buy in a lifetime. You are the expert! But you don’t always have to show it off, even when your shopper is dead wrong. I really don’t believe that “the customer is always right,” but I do believe it’s our job to “make them right.”

4. Take yourself out of the sale. Whether you have 40 models to sell on your floor or 400, chances are you wouldn’t take home half of them, even as a free gift. We all have our preferences, but when you only show your shopper the items that you like, you’re cutting your chances of making a sale by half. Show what’s right for the shopper, not what’s right for you.

5. Ask every shopper to buy today, and to buy one more item. Believe this: no one comes to a store to browse; they walked into your store to buy. But more than likely, no other retail sales associate in any other shop will ask them to place an order today. Despite inquiring about delivery dates, payment terms, return policies and more during my 20 most recent competitor shopping trips, I was never asked to place an order at all.  Granted, you will hear “no” more often when you ask everyone to buy, but you will also hear “yes” a lot more too.

BTW, most people who buy from you today have multiple bedrooms, meaning multiple buying opportunities. After they agree on the main bedroom mattress, ask if they would consider upgrading their kids’ sleep surface too. Have a “hot buy” twin or full in mind and show them how a small extra investment can improve sleep for the whole family. The best time to sell something is when someone is buying.

There you have it, five simple suggestions with no tricks, no treats and no calories. I hope you enjoyed a happy and safe Halloween last week, and here’s to a successful Black November.

Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at Gordon.Hecht@aol.com.

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