This month Victoria Satterly discusses the importance of actively helping customers to identify their needs.
I was stood in store last week and overheard a store assistant speaking with a customer. ‘Don’t worry’ he said to the customer ‘I don’t sell, I just provide information on the products’. Given that I was stood in a shop which is supposed to sell products this struck me as being somewhat ludicrous. However, I did start to reflect on how the concept of selling seems to initiate an allergic reaction in some people.
The chances are we’ve all been on the receiving end of poor selling. For me it conjures up images of the double-glazing salesman trying to convince me I need new windows on my already double-glazed house. Poor selling is essentially when someone tries to sell you something you don’t need, no matter how good the sales talk something doesn’t ring true and we either become irritated or we simply walk away.
Conversely, the essence of good selling is identifying a need and find something that meets it. If there is no need there will be no sale or, even worse, a poor sales experience meaning that customer will be unlikely to buy in your store again. Last month I mentioned how important it is for customers to make sure they are making the right purchasing decisions in these tight economic times. With this in mind, it is absolutely critical that store assistants (and third party promoters) accurately identify need and deliver an exceptional sales experience.
So what about that store assistant? I suspect he had superb product knowledge and could reel out a plethora of features and maybe even benefits. However, as he wasn’t taking the time to understand his customers’ needs, any product knowledge cited to ‘wow’ his customer may well have been met with a ‘so what?’ reaction. The customer will have had an unsatisfactory in-store experience and will possibly have left empty-handed. In a retail landscape where stores are competing with strong online players retailers simply cannot afford for this to happen.
All staff on the shop floor must be sales people actively helping customers to identify their needs so that the right solutions can be proposed. With this approach the sales person will sell with integrity and promote trust, and the customer will leave the store reassured and satisfied that their buck has been well spent. And importantly the store will have delivered discernible value to the customer who is then likely to come back again.
Effective selling is exactly what stores have to deliver to compete in this online world.