Effective communication is a subject that many people spend years studying. As salespeople, one of the most important tools we have is our ability to express ourselves to customers and create excitement for them to buy. Often, the difference between a salesperson who tends to be clerking (merely delivering merchandise) and the superstar salesperson is being able to have effective communication with customers.
Start having effective communication with customers.
Devoting an extra measure of time at the beginning of a sales presentation is necessary to determine the customer’s wants, needs, and desires before demonstrating the item(s) that best fits the customer’s requirements. The points I’ve listed below should enable everyone, from store owners and managers to part-time associates, to sell more effectively and in less time than you would have imagined.
Concentrate on what your customer is saying.
It can be very difficult to really listen to your customers. Everything from accents or unusual speech patterns to ringing telephones or children in the store can break your concentration. Tune in to what that customer is telling you they want and do your best to block out any distractions that might cause you to miss important information.
Establish eye contact.
Maintaining eye contact with your customers enables you to recognize many things that their words alone may not be expressing. Most often, the customer’s level of interest is one of the easiest indications to gauge by eye contact. It also helps your customers stay locked in on your presentation. Remember that they are subject to the same distractions you are.
Listen to your customer’s ideas—not just their words.
Customers may not be as articulate as you are or able to express themselves as easily. They may also have a mistaken understanding of certain technical terms. Words are tricky. There is no guarantee that two people believe they mean the same thing.
By knowing your products and really listening, you can decipher what your customers mean and serve them without “being right” and losing the sale. It’s your responsibility to determine what the customer means and not simply take their words at face value.
Don’t jump to conclusions.
If you’re busy formulating your own conclusions based on a portion of what your customer says, you’re likely to miss other useful information. Listen all the way through. The only conclusion that I might suggest you jump to is that you will make the sale.
Never qualify customers.
There is no excuse for judging the likelihood of a customer purchasing your merchandise by his or her appearance. If you provide unprofessional presentations to customers because you think they are unlikely to buy based on their appearance, you’re cheating yourself and the customers. With a multitude of payment options and layaway, it’s too easy to buy today for anyone in retail to make a judgment based on appearance. Customers are very perceptive. They will resent your attitude if they feel you’re qualifying them by appearance and make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to make the sale. Each customer deserves your best.
I have the pleasure of knowing some of the most successful retailers in the country. Often, if I know the president of an organization and I happen to be in the vicinity, I’ll take some time to see what is happening in his or her stores. Recently, I went into a very successful chain of jewelry stores. Because of the way I was dressed when I walked into one store in particular, I was dropped by the salespeople on three separate occasions. Simply unacceptable.
Salespeople should be empathetic, not sympathetic.
Empathy can be defined as knowing how your customers feel and sympathy as feeling sorry for how your customers feel. Don’t trap yourself into buying into your customer’s reasons for not buying. Understand your customer, but don’t let yourself be dissuaded from making the sale.
Let your customers do the talking.
When customers like and trust you, your job will go much more smoothly. One of the easiest ways to gain the trust of your customers is to let them do the talking. It’s important to remember that you don’t know what the customer knows.
Many salespeople are so eager to make customers aware of their vast product knowledge, that the customer never has the opportunity to get a word in edgewise. The result is very little information with which to make a presentation that will be in line with the customer’s wants, needs, and desires. When this happens, delivering the appropriate item is almost impossible because the salesperson doesn’t even know why the customer wants it, and the salesperson ends up attempting to convince the customer to buy.
Use words to express, not impress.
Technical terms and industry jargon sprinkled liberally throughout your sales presentations may make you feel important and knowledgeable, but only serve to confuse and embarrass customers. Keep your language simple and understandable. If you need to use an industry word, make sure you explain it.
Most of the time, customers won’t ask what the words mean if they are used in a presentation. This would show weakness and vulnerability. So instead of clearing up the misunderstood words, they leave.
Communication is a two-way exchange of ideas and concepts. A breakdown in the communication cycle results in salespeople demonstrating item after item and frustrated non-buying shoppers. If you learn to have effective communication with your customers, you will save time in your presentation and have very satisfied customers.
If you would like to learn more about The Friedman Group and are interested in our retail sales training, schedule a discovery call today!