By Brian Barfield
There is an unseen enemy in the world of retail that has led many sales professionals to disconnect from their customers, staff, and, worst of all, themselves. I’m referring to two-headed monster of selfishness and greed, which has worked silently over the years and led us to many of the issues we face in the world of retail today.
As a retail sales veteran of 20 years, I can assure you the sales floor has become a much tougher environment in which to find success. The modern day customer simply does not trust you when they walk through the door for the very first time. Why has this happened? When did we become so disconnected from our customers? Today, I will answer these questions and give you new insight to help you achieve greater success in your life and sales career.
Many years ago, there was a special bond between the sales professional and the customer. It was kind of like Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show. Many mom and pop stores had a special connection with their customers; it was extremely evident a bond of trust had been established and the lines of communication flowed freely. In those days, there were no tricks or gimmicks to make a sale. The customer simply showed up, told you what they wanted, and got what they needed. It was just that simple in most stores. Those of you who have been in retail 40-plus years know I am telling the truth. Don’t get me wrong—there were still dishonest people at that time, but the sales process was usually much easier.
Then came the birth of the sales tactic era, which in its original concept was designed to make the selling process move along at a quicker pace. The basic concept of greeting, asking open-ended questions, overcoming objections, and closing the sale was well-received within the retail community.
In the beginning, it was brilliant! In fact, I still use many of these concepts today in my sales presentations. However, somewhere along the way, things changed. The sale slowly became more about us and less about our customers. Before long, maximizing profit became the main focus point of many sales trainers and owners. The two-headed monster of selfishness and greed had taken control of the retail world and soon there would be a heavy price to pay.
During this time of sales innovation, the retail industry thrived, as many companies gorged on the feast of unsuspecting customers with these newfound skills and tactics. Everything seemed to be perfect, since companies were maximizing sales and profits. Then something happened that changed the game. Consumers had an awakening, aided by the dawn of the Internet. At some point, the customer realized they were being taken advantage of. So they began to educate themselves and resist such sales tactics. The sales floor has since become a much tougher environment.
To combat this awakening, companies began to think of new ways to maximize sales. There was the season of marking things way up and giving a big discount (this still exists today in some stores). Then there were warranties and certificates to make the customer feel more comfortable and special. Just like sales training, it was meant to do good, but then the two-headed monster of selfishness and greed took hold and now those certificates and warranties hold less meaning. What you now have is a generation of sales professionals stuck in a world of retail sales that is full of mistrust and confrontation.
So here you are at a crossroads. Do you continue on the path of much resistance, or do you take a moment to see the truth that can lead you back to lasting success? Are you tired of your customer coming in for the first time and entering into a game of mental chess with you? This process makes the sale a marathon, which can be very draining and a grind.
The focus must shift from greedy sales tactics to reconnecting with the customer and meeting their needs. Those who have heard the message loud and clear have begun to see a more beautiful world of retail. It all starts with one customer at a time! Each and every customer you greet can leave feeling good within and have an amazing experience that will keep them coming back for more. In addition, a reconnection will have taken place regarding trust, and the lines of communication will begin to flow fast and freely. No more marathon sales or strife with customers. This is the secret to my sales success, and it has been a changing force in many others’ sales career.
This article is based on the book, “Modern Day Selling: Unlocking your Hidden Potential,” by Brian Barfield. For more information, visit his website at www.moderndayselling.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.