Business Solutions: How to Ensure Excellent Customer Service
Sales Method: Retail Sales Techniques for Managers and Small Business Owners
The Sales Method is a tool that retailers can use to increase customer satisfaction, increase sales, and train your employees on how to provide superior customer service.
The Sales Method was developed from several various highly effective sales strategies. It incorporates these strategies into a quick and easy guide that outlines the most important and productive points that most sales associates need to know.
Once you have trained your employees on how to use the Sales Method then you'll notice a more productive, stress free workplace. Beyond that, you'll be able to increase sales because your employees will enjoy their working environment. One of the reasons that most employees find dissatisfaction in their jobs is because they lack the knowledge and expertise on how to do that job properly. While many aspects go into retail sales, customer service is by far the most important.
Overview: The S.A.L.E.S. Method
Lead them to the product.
Explain Features and Benefits.
Seal the Deal.
Your customers are no different than a guest in your home. When you invite a guest into your home, you want to make them feel comfortable and welcome.
It is no different when a customer enters your store. You need to make them feel welcomed, and encourage them to stay. The longer a customer stays, the more likely you are to increase sales.
Greeting customers is one of the most important things in encouraging them to make a purchase. This serves several purposes.
First, it helps the customer feel welcome. How many times have you gone into a store where nobody talked to you? How did you feel about that?
Second, it lets the customer know who to turn to if they need help. Think about how many times you've gone into a store looking for a particular item, and haven't been able to find a single person to ask for help? Wouldn't it have been a lot easier if someone was there when you needed them?
Third, it lets the customer know that you're aware of your surroundings. Shrink is a major issue when it comes to lost profits. By simply greeting a customer, they will think twice about stealing. Obviously, those who would still are very few, but for those who do, they will be extremely nervous about shoplifting from a store where all the employees are trained to provide great customer service.
The greeting doesn't have to be big or fancy, just be yourself:
“Hey, how’s it going?"
“Doing alright today?"
The point is to make the customer feel welcome.
Keys to Success:
- Always greet the guest within four seconds of arrival.
- Simply acknowledging a guest not only makes them feel comfortable in your stores but also helps reduce shrinkage by deterring shoplifters.
In order to find out what the customer is looking for, you need to ask
questions. Use conversational,
open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be answered simply with a yes or no; they encourage conversation.
“Who are you shopping for today?”
“What items can I help you find?”
“How can I help you today?”
Stay away from the traditional "Can I help you?" question. Customers see this as a retail line. In other words, customers hear this so often that they associate it with a bored clerk that doesn't care about his/her job. In addition, this question is almost always followed up with, "No, just looking".
When asking questions, listen for key words that describe what the customer is looking for. Listen for the features they require, as well as what the product will do for them. Continue asking questions until you completely understand what the customer is looking for.
"What will you be using this for?"
"Is this a gift or is this for yourself?"
Points to remember:
- Begin conversations using either a conversational approach or a situational approach.
- A conversational approach is the most basic. Simply ask how you can assist the customer.
- A situational approach is more personal. Comment about an item the customer is holding, or compliment them on their attire.
- Ask open-ended questions (cannot be answered yes or no) to find out what the customer is looking for.
- Continue asking open-ended questions until you are sure that you understand what the customer is looking for.
- The most important thing is to make sure the customer feels welcome shopping in your store. If a customer feels welcome, they are more likely to make a purchase. The easiest way to increase sales is to make sure your customer is satisfied.
Lead them to the Product.
Walk with the customer to point out items that match what they are looking for. As you point out the items, continue asking questions to see if that item is what the customer is looking for.
“I think we have just what you’re looking for, let me show you!”
“Was this what you had in mind?”
Explain Features and Benefits.
This is by far the most difficult step in the S.A.L.E.S. process to master. First, explain the features of the item, then, explain how those features will benefit the customer. Most of the time, the features and benefits will be obvious to the customer, that’s ok, simply ask the customer if they need anything else. Remember, the key is to assist the customer in their purchases, not to force them to buy an item they don’t want.
“This looks like what you were describing, let me tell you a little about it…”
“This is a great product, did you know you could also use it for…”
“I’m glad I could help you find what you were looking for. What else can I help you find today?”
Points to Remember:
- This is a great time to gain
a repeat customer. Just by showing them
that you care enough to listen to them will make them remember you next time
they shop. Instead of going to a
competitor, they’ll be back to your store. Of course, this is obviously going to increase sales in your area of expertise.
- Remember to suggest additional merchandise that the customer may need. For example, If the customer needs batteries for the product they are purchasing, then suggest they purchase batteries as well. Many times, the customer does not realize they forgot something until they have left the store.
Seal the Deal.
A simple “Thank you” goes a long way. After you finish the transaction, smile and warmly thank the customer for their business. Remember to invite them back, repeat customers are loyal customers. It’s just another way we can provide excellent customer service!
“Thanks! You’ll have to come back and let us know how the product was!”
“Thanks for shopping with us! We’ll see you next time!”
Points to Remember:
- A customer’s last impression is a lasting impression. If possible, always offer to help the customer to their car with their purchases.
Terms to Know and Understand
Features and Benefits: Products have both features and benefits. A feature of the product is best described as what the product does. A benefit is how the feature influences the customer. Take time to note a few features and benefits of the most popular products in your store.
Open-ended questions: Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Be sure to ask probing questions to identify your customers’ specific needs.
Shrink: A loss of revenue either by theft or inaccurate paperwork. There are several ways of reducing shrink – paying close attention when filling out nightly reports and other paperwork, reducing damage to product, maintaining an accurate inventory, as well as eliminating theft. Remember that shrink effects us all!
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© 2010 Eric Standridge and Sierra Juarez