During my time in university I worked in a few jobs and while they were in different industries, a foundation in sales was the common ground. Of all my roles, my favourite was a position with the little-known company, Home Depot. It was there that I learned three very simple, yet very important principles that helped me close more sales than nearly all of my fellow employees. With these principles, I was able to create a process that satisfies customers and results in a successful sale.
1. Get to know your customer's needs.
While many customers may have already researched the product or service they are interested in before coming to your store, it is important that your sales associates do not consider this to be an absolute truth; some customers are looking for the expertise that your staff can provide when making a purchase decision. Associates can create a positive rapport with customers by showing genuine interest in their needs - a willingness to help shoppers find the perfect item is important when building trust, and in turn, closing a sale. A Forbes online article suggested that "making sure that your customers have a thoroughly positive experience when dealing with you can be a huge competitive advantage." Ensuring this positive interaction occurs is a key component to customer loyalty.
2. Lead with the best.
Once a sales associate has initiated a relationship, built trust, and ultimately understood their customer’s immediate need, it’s time to enter into the sales conversation by showcasing the best products available. When doing so, staff should keep in mind that customers are commonly working within a budget - this can create a barrier when evaluating options. It is the sales associate’s role to encourage the adage ‘you get what you pay for,’ utilizing the earned trust as a chance to fully explain the impact of the purchase, focusing on the consumer’s benefit when describing top-of-the-line options.
In my experience, the customer responds well when an associate reflects on the needs that were outlined, and how the features of a product will fill that need. This gesture not only shows a customer that the associate was listening, but that they are actively trying to find a solution to their problem.
It should be noted that during this portion of the sales process staff should be wary of two key notions:
- Sell from your customer’s perspective and remove personal bias. Remember, value is in the eye of the beholder; a customer may have a different sentiment towards a product than your associates have. Understanding customer needs can help understand what they value.
- Be sure to avoid negative comparisons of lower tier products. Sales associates should instill confidence in the customer during the purchase decision, whatever the result. A customer might not purchase a high-end product for a number of reasons. If a sales associate is to talk poorly about a lower tier product and it is chosen by the customer, their happiness after the sale could be affected. This could have an undesired impact on customer loyalty, and the customer may shop elsewhere in the future.
3. Ask for the sale.
It is now time for associates to project confidence and ask for the sale! After following steps one and two, it’s likely that your staff are in a position to finalize the sale; they have become familiar with the customer and fulfilled their needs by providing a product that best suits them. Encouraging phrases like “now that you’ve chosen a phone, what kind of accessories do you need?” demonstrates that the sales associate is there to support the customer to the end, and is looking to provide solutions for every possible need. This openness also provides a space for the customer to reaffirm their purchase intention or address any final questions or concerns they may have. A sales associate is then able to ensure the customer is comfortable with their purchase and move forward them to the payment stage.
These steps have helped me throughout my sales career and are the perfect tools to further enhance the success of your team while they are out in the harsh environment that is the sales floor.
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