After spending years of my life working in sales for major retail companies, I have learned the importance of winning over your customer. Many people have become so adjusted to online shopping that the brick and mortar store has become overwhelming to them, even intimidating. The truth is, most people view salespeople as pushy and invasive, and are most likely intent on avoiding you and your sales team at all costs. Learn to break down these barriers by building trust between you and your customer.
The moment a person enters your shop door, they are most likely on a mission or "just browsing." And those who are "just browsing" will give up and leave as soon as you begin actively selling. So how do you entice them to stick around, to keep browsing and eventually leave with a shopping bag in hand and a smile on their face? The first step is building trust.
We build trust by creating an environment of friendliness and honesty. Those of us who own stores or work in them are normal people. We may spend our days selling, merchandising, etc., but outside of work, we likely share some common interests, hobbies, and opinions with our customers, and uncovering these commonalities will break down the wall making the salesperson-customer relationship so awkward.
First, make sure to greet every customer who enters your store with a smile and a "hello." If you ask them how they are doing, be genuine. People recognize the difference between "Hey, how's it going?" and asking like you mean it. Show them that you are happy to see them, interested in knowing more about them, and thankful they have made the choice to visit your store. Compliments help too. Once they realize that your kids go to the same school, or you really seem to like their sense of style, they will begin to loosen up.
The second important component of building trust is honesty. As much as you do want to sell off your inventory, one of the worst things you can do is try to sell everything to everyone. Even in your own store, there are pieces you like more than others. When someone makes a negative comment about a cardigan, for instance, feel free to agree. For example, "You know, that one's not my favorite either, but last season, my customers loved it so much, I had to order more." Your admitting distaste for something in your own store will surprise your customer and build instant trust!
Your favorite sweater in the store also might look dreadful on somebody, and the right thing to do is to tell them that-- with gentler words of course! Usually, when a customer emerges from the dressing room wearing an unflattering garment, she knows it's unflattering. When she admits that she feels uncomfortable in it, try to refrain from saying "You look great!" Smile and tell her that you will bring her another sweater that you think she will feel better in.
When I worked in fast-paced, competitive sales, my best clients returned to me again and again because of my honesty. They would often thank me, saying "Linda used to try to sell me everything, but now I know I can come to you and you will tell me what works for me and what doesn't." When a new item came in that I truly did feel would suit one of my clients, I would call them up and say, "You have to see this new jacket that came in. It's so you!" And they would come in and buy it up with no hesitation, no matter the price.
Once you build that initial trust with your customer, they will want to shop with you for life. Lose the salesperson vibe and just be real. This might lead to making a smaller sale today, but it will guarantee a future of positive experiences with a loyal repeat client!