Retail Selling Skills


If you're wondering if there is a difference between selling in retail versus selling in other industries. The simple answer is sorta. If we are talking about the principles of selling like questioning skills or how to answer an objection, then the principle is the same; it is the approach that may be different. 

For example, in a commercial selling environment, you should ask many more questions than at retail. There is a direct link to the amount of information derived from the customer at the front end of the sale to the success of closing the sale.

Plus, the average sale in a B2B environment is dramatically higher than retail. (granted there are some cases where that is not true, but 90% of purchases we make at retail can be made without financing or a big checkbook. Often times, we forget that purchases like groceries or pool cleaner are retail purchases. Usually when you read an article like this, it is talking about selling HDTVs or clothing or furniture. 

Because of the differences in purchase amount, the "patience" of the customer is different. Think about your own experiences. When you went to buy a car, you took a lot more time making that decision than you did when you bought your Blu-ray DVD. So, you liked all of the questions the salesman asked when buying the expensive car, but if the salesman spent 10 minutes asking questions about your DVD player, you would consider him prying. 

The number one reason people do not do well selling in retail is that they are not a fit for retail. You hire people who fit your culture. Simply put, that means you hire people who are magnanimous and genuine. Then you train them how to sell at retail.

Just because someone has a resume with lots of retail experience, does not mean they know how to sell at retail. Retail selling requires loads of patience. And patience is not something that can be trained. Retail selling requires lots of smiling. An employee must come to the job with these attributes or values already, and then you can teach them the right questions to ask when selling. 

In conversations with customers, it's amazing the priority they place on "niceness." Not product knowledge or years of experience, but how nice the salesperson was. This is underscored in the Retail Sales Bible, in which tons of the best retail salespeople were interviewed to find out their "secrets."

Often times the answer was "treat people the way they want to be treated." Not a big shocker, but sometimes the most simplest ideas escape us. Leona Helmsley was once asked, "how do you get all of your employees to smile so much?" She replied, "I hire people who smile." 

The point is this, retail selling skills are unique in its approach, but the principles of selling are the same. The biggest factor is if the right person is being trained. If you hire junk and give it 100 hours of training, you end up with highly trained junk.