One of the most sure fire ways to provide customers with the advantages of being cared for in a specialized manner is a new, hot, concept – customer service! Retail needs racing thoroughbreds not a bunch of donkeys. And thoroughbreds need constant training.
Now, before you go all yawn-y, glassed-over eyeballs, on me, let’s look at this much more carefully and with new eyes.
It’s been an established fact that retail establishments that don’t align their values and policies to reflect their commitment to serving the diverse demographics of their clients are not surviving – period!
Recent studies have clearly demonstrated that personalized selling has to drive all interactions between the sales staff and the individual(s) with whom they are interacting. Personalized selling incorporates a defined willingness and an ability to quickly and accurately discern the needs of the customer beyond the level of “I-came-to-the-store-today-to-make-a-quick-purchase.” (That level of service can adequately be handled online and with a good credit card!)
It is a fair assumption that if a customer presents her/himself in your establishment, her/his needs are more complicated than a simple check-out transaction!
Sometimes the customer may need to interact with another human being. It is as simple as that. In this age of online impersonality (or worse, online personal attacks), connection and a sense of worth often don’t occur! Throw in purchaser desires around the actual product, whether for a direct purchase or for a gift, the opportunities to obtain accurate information, plus comprehending features and benefits of a variety of products, followed by solving a myriad of concerns with honest reassurances, narrowing suggestions that will satisfy customer expectations, plus building a commonality on a personal level and a truer picture of personalized customer service emerges.
Ideally, the customer service representative has clearly demonstrated the personal qualities of intelligence, compassion, listening skills, motivation for service, and an affable manner. Combining these qualities into a skill set directly influences the success of the salesperson and consequently, the success of the company!
In all cases, the objective is to cause the shopper to become a purchaser, who is completely comfortable with their purchase and the totality of the interactions with the company – to the point that shopping elsewhere is unnecessary. The personal trade relationship needs to be formed not only with the company, but the individual salesperson as well.
Impeccability with sales techniques that can be taught and mastered! Multiple studies have demonstrated that the training a representative receives profoundly affects the results obtained by both the salesperson and the company. According to the sales managers in the studies, the quality of the training that salespeople received was one of the most important (read valuable, in terms of return on investment) factors in improving sales force performance.
The sales professional has to be totally trained in the areas of product knowledge, sales techniques, store operations and of course customer service. If one of these four areas is lacking, then that sales person cannot possibly be as effective as they could be. I find that store operations and product knowledge are pretty well taught. It is the sales techniques that is lacking dramatically.
Does the salesperson know what questions to ask and when? Do they know how to do a demonstration that creates, or enhances the customer’s perception of value? Do they know how to effectively sell additional items, close the sale, handle objections, or turn-over a sale? Most importantly, are they developing a relationship with every sales opportunity, or is it simply a buy/sell experience? Further, are they pro-actively selling themselves and the store with every selling opportunity?
I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a retail store and heard a customer say: “Who do I make this check out to?” The customer doesn’t even know where they are, how could they possibly give referrals and recommendations? (Obviously, the quality of the training provided is key to the results obtained!)
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Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Huisken has authored several books and training manuals on sales and produces a Weekly Sales Training Meeting video series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight” For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703 or email@example.com. Visit his website at www.iastraining.com.