The retailing process requires researching customer preferences, developing value propositions, establishing retail networks and supply chains, setting up stores filling it up with merchandise and getting the customers in to buy the merchandise.
In this process, it is important to constantly deliver a superior level of performance and a delightful shopping experience. The sales person is a key element of the process and must participate in the following activities to be successful. At times, these activities are referred to as the selling cycle and every salesperson is an intrinsic part of and needs to acquire the following knowledge and competencies.
Acquiring Product / Merchandise knowledge
The most important tool in the hands of the retail salesperson is the knowledge that he possesses about the product / merchandise that he is selling. It is necessary that he knows the features and benefits not only of his merchandise but is also aware of competitor’s products. Product knowledge is many times, the key factor in the sales of products like apparel, jewelry consumer durables and other high end merchandise where there is a lot of customer involvement in buying.
Knowledge of merchandise involves knowing the styles, brands and types of merchandise that are carried in stock, the location of the merchandise in the store and the features of the merchandise regarding use, quality , care, price and guarantee.
Studying the customer
The salesperson needs to observe the customer’s manner to determine if he or she is hurried or relaxed. It is important to listen to the customer to determine preference or quality, quantity, color, size and price. By asking questions, the salesperson can get a complete picture of the customer’s wants and choose the selling point that works best. The salesperson must show an interest in the customer and be able to help the customer decide by talking about his or her pleasure, comfort, profit, pride etc.
Approaching the customer
The salesperson’s approach is intended to immediately interest the customer in the products or service and let the customer know the he is there help him. The first seconds are critical for the salesperson to acknowledge the customer and establish a good positive interaction. If the salesperson is busy with another customer and ignores the customer or is busy with paperwork or other routine duties it may send out wrong messages to he customer.
Presenting the merchandise
The salesperson needs to decide on whether to present the features or the benefits of the product to the consumer. To succeed in selling a product it is important for the salesperson to know the difference between product features and customer benefits. People usually do not buy the merchandise for itself, but rather for the benefits they can derive form it. Salespeople should stress the benefits which are what specific features of the item will do for the customer.
The normal sales transaction always has two sides. The customer not only must spend money to get some specific article, but must also sacrifice other pleasures or satisfaction that money would otherwise buy. This logical weighing of satisfaction may exist when the choice is between unrelated possibilities such as merchandise and a vacation, as well as in choosing between two competing brands of goods. The customer naturally wants to purchase the article that gives the most value for the money. Sales resistance is really the customer’s normal way of weighting values.
Sales resistance can be classified as either an excuse or an objection. Excuses are insincere reasons offered by the customer who does not want to become involved with the salesperson. Objections represent honest points of difference between the customer and the salesperson.
Excuses frequently occur early in the sales process, when the customer is only looking or when a salesperson attempts to sell merchandise other than that asked for by the customer or after the selling points have been made, indicating either that the salesperson failed to arouse interest or that to customer has some hidden objection.
Objections indicate a desire on the part of the customer to learn more about the merchandise .They are honest reasons for not buying and show a direct relationship between a desire to satisfy a need and a natural reluctance to sacrifice money.
Sales people should welcome real objections because they are an indication that the customer is interested and /or that the customer s attempting to justify the purchase . In fact, there is an old adage the states the sale does not begin until the customer says no.
While dealing with objections a salesperson should recognize the right of the customer to raise objections. The salesperson needs to listen to what the customer is saying so that he can determine how the objection an be countered.