By Josh Strutt
Associate Director – Deployment, Retail Doctor Group

Despite so much commentary on “how to survive in a recession”, there are some straightforward business tips that don’t often get mentioned – and will help retailers quickly.

Let’s start with an area that is surprisingly often overlooked – the noble art of retail selling.

Fiction: Every trained salesperson can engage the customer in a non-business approach, assess customer needs through skilful questioning, retain the vital information, ready for playback at a later stage, and then skilfully introduce the product to the customer, through to a benefits laden package, based on customer needs to the right product.

But wait: it gets better than this when this skilled salesperson effortlessly bundles the add on to the package of products that the customer simply must-have. Elated, the customer leaves the store ready to tell 20+ other advocates and turn them into evangelists for that business brand customer experience.

Fact: Some salespeople actually don’t know how to sell very well. A smiling face, sunny disposition, and helpful style is nice and important although many of these salespeople simply can’t get their name on the top five sales for the month board. Through no fault of their own, their contribution can be overlooked as the 150 steps of a sales program or worse still, the “we cut training” mentality can take over. This can result in a stumbled product features download (“we’re blurting out 50 product features”, “coupled with this will suit you”, or “this will look good” etc.), even shyness or worse still marginal salesperson disinterest.

The greatest asset that a salesperson can have is to be a strong active listener, confident with the right degree of humility and genuine interest in the customer.

Let me elaborate on the first principle of retail selling: Sell more to the ones you have than the ones you wish you had. So this begs the question, are we selling more to the customers we have and how are we measuring this? Do we have items per sale, average sales, and gross sales by team member targets?

Are we staying fit on the sales floor by lifting our average sales target by X% and then setting out to upskill our team members to deliver the numbers? Do we have start-up meetings and daily sales targets? Are our bonus systems geared to recognising the larger average and items per sale? Are we setting our people up to win?. Are we using average sales and the growth in average sales as motivators in our team and are people actually winning?

For example, what would the effect be on your bottom line be if transactions stayed static although average sales were up by 10% +, items per sale rose by one or whatever numbers you need, to make the point that selling more to the customers you have is a vital objective in today’s environment.

We see plenty of selling data across a large range of retailers and one area where opportunity is lost consistently is the add on or upsell, yet this is just profit walking out the door. Once again, a strong sales strategy will never deliver if the investment in selling skills and performance frameworks are not in place. Can you imagine, the increase in profit if you could generate 20% + in add-on sales through converting one in three or four customers with an add-on sale?

The right sales training supported by an effective people framework and specifically merchandised assortments will go a long way to delivering these increases and help you stay fit and resilient in today’s market.

Remember that somewhere between 70% – 80% of purchases are impulse and by definition, these people will buy that add-on with their product purchase, if only somebody would ask.

If you need any assistance or retailer training on how to upskill your staff to “sell more to the ones you have”, contact Josh or our Deployment team via or learn more about our services here