When I ask one of my retail employees what their job focus and responsibilities are, they answer, “I will get what the customer wants, package their items nicely and be friendly and outgoing.”
Well, this is a good start, but to me this is order taking. I am challenged as a business owner and manager to always strive for more and develop salespeople. To do this I developed a four-pronged approach to waiting on customers.
Greeting: When a customer enters our store we greet them warmly with a smile, hello, or welcome, but we never say, “How can I help you?” Instead we ask, “Have you been in our shoppe before?”Why do we do this? To get us to point number 2…
Engage: By asking this question we can engage with the customer. If we ask, “How can I help you,” we are relying on the customer to know what they want and this becomes order taking.If our customer says, “No, this is my first time in your shoppe,” I usually have to contain myself from looking like an idiot and refrain from actually dancing, cartwheels or little flips because it is so exciting to get new customers, especially the ones that heard about you from word of mouth! YES! YES! YES!
We train our employees to tell the customer something special about us. For our business, some ideas would be, “We bake everything fresh here daily,” or “We have over 20 flavors of cupcakes today”.
Then we showcase the tiered price structure, such as “If you buy 6 or more cupcakes you get a price break per cupcake.” It is amazing how many customers will go from purchasing 4 or 5 cupcakes to 6. Would they have done this if our employee had just been an order taker and not a salesperson? Probably not, but yet so simple.
When a customer says, “Yes,” they have been in before, we welcome them back. After all, repeat customers are the bread and butter of any business! Then our staff highlights an item that is new, such as “We have our monthly cupcake flavors”….. or “Did you see this new cookie bouquet design?”. I tell my staff it doesn’t matter what you show, as long as you showcase something.
Daily Special: is the third step of the process. We create a product that is on special, packaged and sitting in front of the cash register. Our staff is to ask every single person if they would like a daily special of, for instance, chocolate covered pretzels, a bag of chocolate chip cookies, etc… We make sure it is a special and we track it by having a special code in our point-of-sale system. Impulse purchase, you have their attention, use it! And be honest, how many of us can say no to a bag of fresh baked cookies???
Promotional Closing: the last step to our process is handing a gift catalog to the customer and mentioning to them “Here is our gift catalog, our product makes fun gifts and we also deliver,” so we have just planted the seed for a repeat purchase from our customers.
To properly train the staff we have role-playing meetings. We go through different scenarios, from the new customer who is lingering and has time, to the rushed customer who just wants their cupcake and doesn’t want to hear all your stuff. The point is to be sensitive to these customers, we are not trying to jam our specials at them, we are trying to engage with them and increase purchases of value to our valued customers but not annoy them.
Lastly, reward your staff! Set goals of how many daily specials to sell, or track how many times each employee goes through all four steps with a customer. Most important, track your average ticket sale, this number will tell you more than anything if your retail employees are becoming sales people.
Whether you are selling books, cookies or french fries, training your retail staff to become salespeople gives your staff focus in their job and together a group of focused employees can only better your bottom line.