Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Selling on the retail floor has evolved into a customer-first approach. Long gone are high pressure sales tactics but the Art of Closing still important
Back in the 90’s I was forced to watch Glengarry Glen Ross, a 1992 film portraying a boiler room sales office with high pressure sales tactics. As a young B2B sales rep, it was required viewing and my sales manager hammered the message that sales reps must CLOSE the sale. Today I think that high pressure sales tactics portrayed in the film have no place in modern retail sales.
But the art of “closing” does have a place on the retail floor, and it’s seldom ever used. In this context, the definition of closing simply means: asking for the sale. And here are so many subtle ways to ask without sounding like Alec Baldwin in the film.
Before I begin with closing you have to earn the right to get to the point where you can ask for the sale. So let’s go over the customer’s journey the moment they walk into the door.
1. Greet. Some retailers make this such a high priority, they schedule staff exclusively to stand at the entrance to say hello. Unless you’re the GAP or Wal-Mart; as an independent retailer you can’t afford that. Think of it as simply acknowledging the customer’s presence. Some tips for greeting customers:
Step away from behind the cash desk and say hello
Say: “our sale items are to the left” or “I’ll be here if you have questions”
If you’re with a customer, acknowledge a new customer’s presence by nodding, making eye contact, smiling, etc.
Whatever you don’t let anybody enter without acknowledging their presence.
2. Assessing needs. This is where you try to understand precisely why they’re in the store. If you can satisfy their needs (product, price, function, etc.) you’ve earned the right to move ahead. In technology sales this part is important and can be complicated. Your ability to understand, your technical knowledge of the product, and your ability to communicate solutions in a simple and effective way is critical. The best way to understand a customer's needs is to.....
3. Listen. Don’t interrupt and make eye contact. The worst thing you can do is to appear disinterested, and unable to follow the customer’s thoughts. This is also a good time to pick up intangible needs: “it makes me feel better”, “it looks better”, “girls will like me” (don’t laugh, it does happen!). Don’t underestimate the emotional cues and you should look out for it.
4. Provide solutions. Whether you’re selling bras or cars you have to satisfy all, or most of their needs, then repeat back what they’ve said to you as part of presenting a solutions package. This is where you will find “objections”- reason NOT to buy.
5. Handle Objections. Objections are good! This means they’re interested and you’ve done a great job. Clarify their objections, then answer the objections with other options, more information, and relate it back to their needs. Now you’ve earned the right to….
6. Close. Closing means you ask for the sale. Here are some closing statements that I’ve seen over the years from top sales reps:
Would like that in blue or black?
It will take only a few minute to process
Would you like that with a belt or bracelet?
I can put this behind the cash desk
What’s common with these statements is that they don't directly ask for a sale. The statements get customers warm to the IDEA of paying. Closing should be performed right after answering objections and you should always close at least twice in the sales process. If you fail to ask for an order then you’ve done nothing more than provide information and that can be done online. Sales reps aren’t needed, and you haven’t done your job.