How sales and selling are handled is integral to the customer experience. As the expectations for customer experience change, your sales practices should too. Keeping up with or ahead of other retailers when it comes to customer experience and sales is necessary to stay competitive.
Share these tips with your sales staff to make sure they are as good as or better than the next guy:
Number one in this category is hiring the right person for the job. While the candidate pool may be shallow, make sure you are considering the necessary skills. You know a sales job requires someone who is not shy about talking to people. Sometimes, with a limited number of candidates, you need to remind yourself to choose a candidate based purely on skills. For example, you have two candidates for a sales job—one is reliable but shy, and the other is less reliable but more outgoing. Given what sales involves, you should consider giving the outgoing person a chance.
Emotional intelligence and empathy can be learned and should be part of sales training. The best sales people can connect with customers in a way that demonstrates they understand customers' needs and desires based on their own experiences. Check out this article about how emotional intelligence can improve your sales approach and outcome.
Trust is important. Customers will always prefer to work with someone they trust—it’s human nature. If a salesperson comes off as untrustworthy or annoying, a customer may pay a slightly higher price or drive a bit farther so they can work with a better salesperson. Trust also builds loyalty. Customers will return to a salesperson they trust.
Clear Selling Points or Differentiators
A question regarding product information should never be a question that cannot be answered. One of the worst possible customer experience situations is when a customer is in your store and cannot get the information they are looking for about your products.
How challenging a sale is can depend a lot on the customer, but some products are more difficult to sell than others. Clearly defined product information is essential to preventing frustrated customers and making sales easier and more frequent.
In addition to the in-store experience, customers need to be able to access product information online, even if products are not for sale online.
Having standards for greeting and checking on customers throughout their visit to your store is paramount. An ungreeted or poorly greeted customer may feel undervalued, which can lead to fewer sales. However, in recent years it is becoming more common for retailers not to bother customers while they shop. Share these bad habits with your team members to remind them to be better.
A routine sales process is important to help your team members, so nothing is forgotten and customers have a consistently positive experience, regardless of sales volumes. Details like confirming products are in stock and checking on shipment dates should be part of the process, because the sale is not complete until the customer is happy and using their product.
Written processes are great for new employees, especially those new to sales, as they allow employees to get comfortable with the process on their own and ask questions as needed.
Never forget that management’s attitude about sales and customer experience sets the tone for how team members operate. Consistent, helpful reminders can provide much-needed support to your team and sustain momentum. While sales are literally what makes your business money, customer experience is impacted by many details—from in-store cleanliness to follow-up after a large sale—so keeping a holistic approach is important too.