The world of retail is one of the most common and often brutal jobs in North America. From major commodities and houses to local clerk at an electronics store, it’s a job that requires a combination of social skills, expert knowledge of the product and excellent memory recall. David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross displays just how brutal it is for real estate retail salesmen when Alec Baldwin makes his famous “Always Be Closing” speech. It’s also the job that virtually everyone will have experience in, be it a teenager summer gig or a permanent position.
There are numerous tips that can help a salesman be successful, leading to you receive the coveted picture of “Salesman of the Year” on the wall. Here are just a few sales techniques to teach you how to sell in retail:
1. Brace Yourself For Retail Customers
Working in retail means you’ll encounter different types of customers. Busy shopping centres like Burlington Heights Plaza will have many diverse visitors. Depending on what you’re selling, a customer is going to react differently. Every customer is different, sure, but some will no doubt be cruel, cheap and approach you with distrust, believing that you’re out to con them.
Some jobs are going to encounter such customers more often than others. Telemarketers should be prepared for name calling, car salesman should be ready for skepticism, local clerks should be ready for a lot of indifference. No matter the circumstance, it’s always ideal to be firm, but respectful. No customer is going to respond well to an overly aggressive salesperson.
2. Pay Attention to Your Appearance
While no one expects you to always wear a suit depending on the position, it’s important to dress your best. No one wants to buy from a guy in a Budweiser T-shirt and torn jeans with ratty hair. Paying attention and care to your appearance will ultimately help you close the deal.
A suit may not be necessary, but if you’re wearing sneakers and a T-shirt, at least make sure they make you look like you know how to dress. In that situation, it might help to dress like you are on a first date, trying to make your best impression. Other appearance-related issues include the obvious hygiene issues; brush your hair, teeth and a little cologne wouldn’t hurt.
3. Watch Your Words
Now that you’ve prepared for what kind of client you’re going to encounter, it’s ideal to watch your words. Keep them as professional as possible, full of respect including “sir” and “ma’am” if appropriate. It’s also helpful to speak with articulate, well-worded sentences. And, of course, it’s probably not a good idea to drop an F-bomb.
Fact of the matter is, we enjoy talking about people. But goofy things you saw on the internet, like the latest cute cat video, or gossip is never appropriate in the business world. Save it for when you’re with your friends.
4. Don’t Judge
It’s helpful to be able to read your customer and their likes and interests. It’s the opposite of helpful to judge them for it. Judgement comes with the tendency to decide who is worth paying attention to and who isn’t. It’s the opposite of selling, a practice where every customer is important.
5. Be Aware of Your Close Ratio
Most jobs in retail have some ratio of sales you have to meet every day or quarter. So keep an eye on what your bottom line is and work toward it. If you’re particularly ambitious, try and exceed it every chance you get. This will lead to promotion, acclaim and a general sense of pride.
Feel free to use tools and equipment to help you make the sales. Display signs are particularly effective in a retail environment. When a POP display is properly positioned, you may increase your chances of closing the sale.
6. Sell Something You Hate
If you really want to challenge yourself, sell the ugliest item in the store. In a famous scene from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo Di Caprio’s Jordan Belfort is given challenge during training to sell a pen to someone, talking about it’s qualities as though it’s the best item one could purchase.
This is a common practice. Many companies will use pens or paper clips. But selling something you despise and making it sound appealing will prove to you that you can make a compelling case for just about anything.
7. Treat It Like a Game
Too often, salesmen are hardworking, tough talking, all business. They talk about their profession like it’s war and they’re a “Killer“ or some other word loaded with machismo. Sometimes, they’re right, particularly if a sale is going smoothly. But if they fail, this kind of attitude can lead to broken homes and orphaned children.
The trick is to lighten up, treat the entire thing like a fun challenge rather than some sort of battleground. Not only will this attitude make it more enjoyable, customers will actually enjoy speaking to you rather than come away intimidated.
All of these amount to a fine line to walk, but if you’re capable of finding the right balance, you’ll find yourself making the sale much easier.