BrainTrust Query: Is ‘Selling’ a Dirty Word in Retail?
In retailing today, “selling” is
a dirty word. “What?!” you
may be asking, “How can that be? Isn’t retailing all about selling?” Not
really. Think about it. Selling is something that both store employees and customers
hate. It puts the two groups at odds when they can and should be partners with
the exact same goals of helping people buy the products they want in the way
they want to buy them. Traditional sales models involve selling things that customers
do not want — by convincing them that they do. The goal has been to essentially
generate more dollars for the store at the expense of a customer who does not
want to spend those dollars but gets coerced into doing so by a “great” salesperson.
consumers are increasingly disinterested in dealing with traditional sales
people. They’re not looking for friends or relationships in stores and don’t
care if the staff knows their name. They want to get what they came for and
get out. They’re busy and want a store that understands that, providing what
they are looking for, efficiently. These consumers want information about products.
They want fair pricing, and they want all the other services such as gift wrapping
and easy returns — but they don’t need to talk about it. They want the information
online. They want it in clear signage in-store around the product and its attributes,
as well as store policies, procedures and services. They don’t want to have
These customers spend money just like traditional customers do and
they deserve respect. But most small shops not only fail to give it to them,
they continue to insist on trying to speak with them and showing them items
they did not come in to get. They frustrate and drive out shoppers who have
money and want to spend it. Shoppers do not want to be “sold” or “told”;
they want to shop on their terms. Smart stores allow them to do so.
you to transform how you think about sales by designing your store to have
the following things to allow customers to shop how they want. We call it the “Inform & Deliver” selling
- Have clear signage to provide non-verbal communications.
- Don’t put employees at odds with customers by pushing sales incentive
- Remember — you sell merchandise, not service.
- Make sure you have the goods. If you don’t, the customer can easily
find them with a click.
- Brand your store at every touchpoint and then live up to your brand.
- Be transparent and avoid phony sales and promotions.
- Change your mindset.
Discussion Questions: Do you agree that customers today do not want or need to be “sold” or “told?” How would you expect customers in a store that typically uses traditional selling techniques to react to a less aggressive, more informative approach as outlined in the article?