What is a Good Retail Salesperson?
by Rich Gordon AKA Retail Rich
Do you have sales-clerks OR Do you have sales-people in your store?
Lets talk first about sales clerks. In my mind, they are there to do the normal day-to-day work in a retail establishment, which involves cleaning, putting out merchandise, ticketing it and ringing it up. This is NOT a salesperson. You most likely need salesclerks, but in this day and age, AND ECONOMY, you need them to be salespeople too! If you just have employees who are waiting for someone to buy something, then you have order-takers and they should be called order-takers. . . or maybe sales-clerks, but they ARE NOT salespeople and the real question is which do you have on your payroll? You need to understand just whom you have in your store!
A good salesperson caters to the store’s customers and works to help them in anyway possible. They don’t ignore the customer or find a reason to avoid them, or keep them waiting while they finish up a phone call to their boyfriend. They really do understand the importance of SERVING customers. They don’t consider it demeaning and they don’t considerate it an interruption to their daily tasks, of which taking care of customers is the most important.
A good salesperson does not stumble they’re way through a question that a customer asks about a given product, just because they are ignorant of product knowledge. Have you ever gone into a store and asked about a product, only to have the salesperson read off the product package, as if he’s providing you a valuable service? A good salesperson needs to know about the things he or she is selling. Customers are likely to see through the ignorance and walk away. As a result, your store loses their trust, perhaps permanently. As a retailer, product knowledge is important depending on what you are selling.
A good salesperson strives to greet every customer by name whenever possible. They are friendly and willing to listen. In fact they enjoy talking to people.
A good salesperson looks professional—like they belong in your store. They do not look like they are working a garage sale. A professional appearance is CRITICAL to your store’s image and brand. If you think about it, appearance does matter. Whether it’s the packaging on a product you purchase, or your company’s web site, people notice how things look. Whether you like it or not people care about how things look and make judgments about you and your store based on appearance. Looking the part, makes it easier for your customers to see who can help them, and it identifies them as the people within the store that they can count on to help. If you tell me that Walmart doesn’t have professional looking people, you’re right. They don’t. But you don’t have the lowest prices in town and you don’t cater to the lowest common denominator of customer’s. . . At least I hope not!
A good salesperson looks at each customer as having a “need” or “want”. A good salesperson wants to help discover just what that is, and believes if they can do so, the customer has the potential of buying multiple items.
A good salesperson helps the store’s management collect buyer preferences and information on each customer they work with, because they know that the more information the store has about them, the easier it will be to please the customer in the long run.
A good salesperson asks the customer if there is anything else they can help them with, and if the customer has found everything they came in for.
A good salesperson thanks the customer for their visit, and/or purchase. At Nordstrom’s, a good salesperson will walk around the sales-counter after the transaction has been completed and hands the purchase to the customer while thanking them for their business.
A good salesperson calls customers at times (after the sale) to insure they were happy with their purchase and satisfied with their visit to the store.
Selling is a service. A Salesperson is not there to push something on the customer they don’t want. A good salesperson is there to build trust and help the customer satisfy a want or a need with the knowledge they have about the products and the store. None of us want to be sold something. We all do want to be serviced.
If you do NOT have salespeople on your staff, it most likely is not the fault of your employees. You are the one who needs to make some changes. You hired them. If they don’t have the right personality for sales, whose fault is that? If they have been working for you for a while and you see them doing none of the above very well, they most likely need some training and some explanation of YOUR priorities where customers are concerned. Changes in staff behavior do not occur automatically or overnight, so you will need to be persistent and consistent. As you try to make changes, give your people a sense of why you’re doing the things your doing and some idea of what lies ahead. When employees have a boss who surprises or direction suddenly without warning, they get a bit nervous. People do like predictability and on what basis they’re being judged. If any of these issues sound like they have you and your store in their sights, I’m sorry, but YOU have some work to do!
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