The Seven Simple Truths
Truth #4:Connecting with customers is the new way to success
For many years the training industry in retail has mainly focused on sales techniques and tactics as a way to produce numbers and create business. There have been many great lessons on how to sell your customer and maximize the sale’s full potential. If you have been in the industry for a while, I am sure you have heard the same training lessons over and over, which are spun many different ways. For a season it was very productive and produced very good results. However, somewhere along the way it has lost it’s effectiveness and here we are today.
So where did everything go wrong? What happened that caused our customers to stop trusting us and looking to us for advice?
The answer is very simple. During the success of this sales technique and tactic based training era we allowed greed to set in. The sale became more about us and less about our customers. Many lost focus on caring for their customers and turned their attention to profits and bottom line thinking. This quickly led to a disconnection between sales associates and their customers. The bond of trust had been severed and the lines of communication were much tougher to form. Ask anyone who has been in the business for over 20 years and they will tell you that sales are much tougher today than they used to be.
A little over two years ago a process of change began when Modern Day Selling showed everyone a new way to achieve greater success. The concept was to turn away from sales techniques, and tactics, and focus on reconnecting with the customer. The main focus was turned to serve while selling, create a show-time experience for your customer and look out for their best interest. The time had come to find a way out of the mess we had created and make the sales floor a more fun and enjoyable place for sales associates and customers.
In the beginning it was hard for stores to create such change because fear and doubt were holding them back. What I was asking them to do was conduct their business with the core principles of trust, honesty and integrity. This would mean that they most likely could lose some sales dollars in the beginning by not squeezing every nickle out of their customer and pressuring their customers to buy. The question was, would they be willing to sacrifice in the beginning to reap a greater reward? Would they be willing to set a foundation for future success and a better store environment?
The stores that were able to overcome such fear often found that their business did not suffer at all. In fact, as the store environment began to change for the better it often drove in more customers. Customers could feel a difference when they were the main focus and could shop with confidence knowing that business was being conducted the right way. This led to repeat business like never before, happier sales staff and a more team/family environment. The key in all of this was moving away from sales tactics and focusing on connecting with customers.
Knowing your product well and super selling skills will only get you so far on today’s sales floor. Although they are still important, it should be every sales associates top priority to learn how to connect with people! Without the skill of connecting with people you are in for a long, grind-it-out sales career. When you are able to connect with people, establish trust and open up the lines of communication, your sales become easy and almost effortless. Your customer base will grow rapidly with a loyalty that is unmatched.
How do I know? Because I have practiced what I have preached for many years in my own career. People are amazed at how quick, efficient and easy my sales are as a yearly million dollar plus sales associate for the past nine years.
Owners and managers, if you want to see the things I write about come to life in your store, just start by teaching your staff how to connect with people and build trust. In time the sales associate who picks this up the quickest will most likely become your new top producer. Many of those all-star sales associates, with papers hanging on the wall saying that they know a lot, will watch in amazement and soon follow suit. Connecting with your customer is the new avenue to greater success.
For any of those who don’t believe me yet, just follow the results. I personally have never taken an advanced sales training course on diamonds, gemstones or watches. Sure I have done the basic trainings and know my product well, but I do not need that extra stuff to make me special and dynamic on the sales floor. What I do best is connect with my customer, give them an amazing experience and take care of their needs.
In my store there are two Rolex experts who have done every training under the sun. They could tell you anything you want to know about this amazing watch. In comparison, I know very little other than the basics. Would you like to take a guess at who is #1in Rolex sales at my store? It’s me, with distance to spare. It is not because of what I know, but how I connect with the customer and meet their needs. If I were an owner or manager today, I would take someone who could connect with customers over a sales guru any day of the week. Again, product knowledge and selling skills are important, but they rank far down the training charts from connecting with people.
In closing, I hope this article has given you some new insight into an area where your staff can develop and achieve much greater success. For anyone desiring more insight, I encourage you to read my books, “Modern Day Selling: Unlocking your Hidden Potential” and “The Modern Day Store: Creating a Unified Store.” I also do in-store sales training to help staffs learn the art of connecting with people and creating an amazing store environment.
Brian Barfield is a two-time published author, worldwide, who specializes in offering fresh new insight in retail sales training. For more information please visit his website www.moderndayselling.com. Brian also offers in-store sales training and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.