Retail is so competitive right now that the definitive edge is the extremely well-trained staff who can assist the customer with bringing their personal vision for their purchase clearly into the focus of reality. Bringing the customer’s vision to a satisfying and enduring conclusion is similar to a riveting production on the screen or in the theater.
The stage is the setting for the drama to transpire. Carefully creating outstanding displays which are current, crisp, clean and inviting prepares the physical and emotional background for the action to occur. Mood and expectation can subtly be engineered to capture the purchaser’s involvement before any action begins.
As with any dramatic performance, the props (the products) are the details which refine and enhance the drama. Having the highest quality merchandise with the most desirable price-points allows the product and the merchant to engage the audience (purchaser) from the get-go!
Generating a delicate harmony between the store, the product and the purchaser is the responsibility of the sales staff. Merchants can have the best of the best in their product line and still struggle to be competitive. It is possible to have the most breath-taking store with the most inspiring decor and still fall flat in the staging of the stellar transaction! (Oh NO!)
The actors (the doers, the muses) are largely responsible for bringing all the dramatic elements together to a coherent, memorable and satisfying conclusion! (Bring on the Retail Oscars, please!)
Rarely are actors able to achieve an award-winning performance without training and practice and constant refinement and honing of their craft. Similarly, rarely do salespersons possess such natural talent that they can bring home a smooth, highly satisfying purchase interaction without frequent training, role-playing, self-evaluation/manager evaluation of their words and actions to create buying comfort with their customers.
So, setting the stage for ongoing role-play among sales staff and managers makes a critical difference in keeping sales smooth and natural. Just as practice makes perfect in all of the arts, practice makes perfect in the development and growth of expert sales skills. Steps in this process that I like to see:
• Practice before going on the sales floor
• Interactive role modeling - manager/staff member
• Interactive role-modeling - staff member/staff member
• Staff member self-evaluation/clarification/“do-overs”
• Manager evaluation/praise for comments and components which enhance the sales progression
• Joint examination with the salesperson for improvement of statements, movements or body-language that disrupts the flow of the sale
• Developing improved techniques cooperatively with the salesperson
• Practice, practice, practice!
To be the most effective, this improvement process MUST be conducted in a collaborative, non-threatening, interactive, fun (did I say FUN!?) manner! Each staff member must feel free and valued enough to devise their personalized sales strategies within the guidelines of best sales practices. THIS is where the expertise of the manager becomes evident! To be a competent instructional coach, whether in the dramatic arts, sports or sales, being a master of the techniques is an ABSOLUTE necessity!
Believing in the effectiveness of material (wording/techniques/“schtick”/presentation), knowing that what is said is honest and sincere, and demonstrating that the basic steps are repeatable creates confidence and fluidity for the sales staff. Assisting each staff member to craft their stories and sales scenarios equates to their sincere success; from there, each one can merely repeat their own process! Success, sales process, success, more success!
Most important of everything is to BE the manager you’d like to HAVE manage YOUR success as a salesperson! Winners create and coach winners!