New Retailer Rules – 101

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If you want to open a retail store, there are some facts you need to know. If you can’t accept this then owning a store is NOT really for you – plain and simple. All of these “rules” start with the assumption that you are a pleasant person who enjoys dealing with most people  – a MUST for retail.

  1. Retail life in no way resembles any sort of role play or “dress up” you engaged in as a kid. It is hard, laborious (yet potentially rewarding) WORK. Be prepared to dig in & do it. For more on new retailer needs, click here.
  2. Your role is to buy merchandise that will appeal to your target – and to be knowledgeable about, and sell, that merchandise. It is not to outfit yourself, your family and your friends. If that’s your goal, get a great job working for someone else & have fun pleasure shopping.
  3. You will almost never be on time for anything, ever again. This is not pessimism, this is real talk. If you are committed to your business and your customers then you will be late for simple things like eating a meal or more important events, such as a graduation or family outing. Fact. Make sure those who are near and dear to you know this ahead & you will save yourself some hurt feelings from misunderstanding. Balance is possible, but this is different than an office job where you leave at 5:00 everyday. It just doesn’t work like that.
  4. You must be observant. This will help you in forecasting your buys and in closing the customer sale. If you are opening a store to be the center of attention, you will seriously want to reconsider your desire. Being the owner puts your needs at the bottom of the pile, on the path to success. This venture is actually not about you; it is about your customer. People will come to see you specifically if you treat them well, but remember your job is to cater to their needs.
  5. To piggyback off of number 4: Utilize consultative selling practices. This means you need to be prepared to have a brief conversation with the customer to identify their needs (notice that is not “wants”). People often think they want one thing, when in fact they need something entirely different. If you sell the want to the customer you have not actually made a sale, you’ve acted as a clerk. Once they get home and realize they don’t need this item there’s a pretty good chance it will be returned – something you want to avoid as much as possible. When you consult, identify and then fill a need, you can almost guarantee the item will not be returned. See this article for more on consultative selling.
  6. Enjoy being active. View running around the store as your exercise for the day. If you like to literally sit and chit chat all day then being a retailer is not for you. Brief conversations are great for rapport and relationship building with customers, but if you are successful with that then there will be very limited time for actual sitting. Trust us on this – that stool behind your counter will be brand spanking new in 5 years if you do it right!
  7. Hire at least one person to run things when you are not there, who has a great demeanor & plenty of experience in the industry. This will be invaluable to you!!
  8. Create store hours & stick to them. There’s nothing more disappointing to your customer than showing up at your store and you are inexplicably not open when your publicized hours say you should be. This sends a loud and clear message to the customer than you don’t care about them or value their time.
  9. Know the jobs beneath you and be ready to “dive in & do” at any moment. If you don’t understand the basic mechanics of a solid sale, merchandising your store or buying goods and supplies then you can’t identify what a good GM, Buyer or Merchandiser looks like in order to hire them, and you will be rendered helpless if you do get good people who have to call out some time.
  10. Retail, and fashion especially, is a constantly evolving and ever changing landscape today. If you want to stick to routine and are content with in the box thinking, get an office job. The BEST retail stores change with the times… whether that is some shift in their goods for sale or in the way they are displayed or sold, it is a fact that you need to have an evolutionary mindset when it comes to your business, if you want stability and/or growth.

There are several little pieces to running a successful retail brick & mortar shop. If you can accept these truths then you’ve taken the first step to creating a long running independent business.

Contact us to move forward with your plans!

Making The Sale

content courtesy of Hubspot

The consultative sales process is primarily focused on the experience that the potential customer feels and sees during their interactions with you. It’s about the how you find ways to provide he or she with value and make it all about them. Not your product, your business, or your numbers. The consultative sales process is most especially not about you.

Sometimes this is also referred to as solution-based selling. Solution selling is a sales methodology. Rather than just promoting an existing product, the salesperson focuses on the customer’s need and how they can resolve it with his or her product.

Notice that the emphasis is on what the potential customer wants and needs, not what you want and need from the customer.

There are six principles to the consultative sales process:

  1. Research
  2. Ask
  3. Listen
  4. Teach
  5. Qualify
  6. Close

These six principles should provide the basic outline of the consultative sales methodology that you create for your business. The methodology you create should take into account the thing you’re selling, the typical sales cycle for your business, your industry, and your buyer personas.

Research

Know your product, and know it well. You need to have enough knowledge to know whether you can offer the customer an item that will truly help them. And one which will make them satisfied with the purchase.

Salespeople should also spend some time gaining industry and general product knowledge. Nothing positions you as an expert as well as really knowing your stuff!

Ask

When you speak with the customer, be sure to ask open-ended questions. The point is to allow them to volunteer the information themselves, as result of (and contributing to) the trust you are building between you.

Ask questions that start with the words Who, What, Where, How, Why, and When. Avoid starting questions with words like Do, Are, You, and Can. These types of questions tend to lead to yes or no answers, which is exactly the sort of response you most want to avoid.

The goal of asking questions is to slowly discover what the goals are, how they might plan to reach those goals, the challenges they might face, and the timeline that’s in place for reaching them.

You also need to uncover their budget and the level of authority of the person you’re talking to.  Are they the decision maker, or the person who controls the budget? You can find this out if you ask the right questions.

Always ask questions during the consultative sales process. Questions are one of your greatest sales tools.

Listen

Always. Be. Listening. It’s the most important thing a great salesperson can do. And we’re talking here about active listening, not passive listening. You’re focused on the person talking and are ready to respond and repeat what they said. The goal is to make sure that both people understand what the other is saying.

As you practice active listening, you’ll need to really focus on everything the customer tells you. All of the information you obtain will help you qualify and/or close the sale.  You must be very attentive to their tone, pitch, and level of enthusiasm. Those elements will help you decide what your next move should be.

Practice makes perfect. Always. Be. Listening.

Teach

As you are actively listening, you need to be responding, and as you respond you should looking for opportunities to teach. But note that this is not about teaching your customer only about your product or service. It’s about helping them fill their need.

This may or may not involve using your product or service. Your focus should be to help them, no matter what.

You must balance the knowledge you give with the questions you ask and the answers you get back.

Qualify

You’re always going to be qualifying the customer. A qualified customer has goals, might or might not have a plan, definitely has challenges to overcome, a defined timeline, and budget. But keep in mind that an unqualified customer is just as good as a qualified customer during the consultative sales process. Unqualified customer give you a chance to help, be friendly, and then move on. And if you’ve acted as a teacher, they may return as a qualified customer down the road. Qualified customers, of course, give you the chance to help, be friendly, and sell. The sooner you can identify a customer that is not a right fit for your product or service, the better.

Don’t continue to try to sell to that customer; it will just hurt them, and you, in the long run.

You want to be spending the most amount of time and provide the most attention to the qualified customers.

Close

It should be fairly easy to close your qualified customers. They have a budget and have the authority to make the purchase. You’ve identified and filled their need by this time.

The closing sequence should feel natural to both you and the customer. If you’re always striving to close only those customers that are the right fit for your products and/or business, then your retention rate on those customers will also be quite high. If you have a consultative process in place you’ll enjoy solid sales to repeat customers – and also new ones, based in referrals!

Your Turn

Use these six principles to create your own consultative sales methodology. Salespeople perform at their highest output when there is a process that they can understand and repeat, and when they know they have a process that will help them close business. And your customers will never feel like they were being sold to.

The experience will be remarkable. Not ordinary, or disappointing. Your customers will feel like you and your staff understand them and are there to be helpful.