If you’re like most people, there are certain stores that you dread going into, and you have to mentally prepare yourself for before entering.
You know the ones I’m talking about – where the sales associate sprays fragrance in your face as a form of greeting. Where associates magically appear beside you to show you electronics you aren’t interested in or to squirt hand cream on you that you don’t want to try. Where you duck and weave your way through a gauntlet of sales associates like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, just so you can grab the one product you want and hightail it to the register.
The store managers and sales associates probably think they are engaging their customers. They’re doing exactly what they are supposed to do, as outlined by their company directives.
After all, they’re talking to you, aren’t they? They’re interacting with you immediately, right? Are they not constantly asking you if you’re “still finding everything okay”?
When you relent and buy the $2 impulse item at the register that the cashier really, really, really wants you to buy, maybe you just see it as an “exit fee” that will finally allow you to leave the store.
At least they aren’t indifferent toward you, right?
Wrong. If you dread going to the store, chances are low that you will voluntarily return for anything other than necessities. You should leave feeling great about your in-store experience and the brand in general, instead of like you’ve survived an epic battle.
If there’s one lesson to be learned from retail assaults like the example above, it’s this: train your team on suggestive selling techniques.
Specifically, train the sales team to approach the customer with selling statements.
Suggestive selling techniques will simultaneously ensure that the store associates avoid asking bothersome, empty filler questions that the customer simply tunes out, and sets them apart as a selling expert.
The rest of the customer experience will fall into a natural conversational rhythm from there.
Let’s walk into this store again, and see how suggestive selling changes the customer experience and makes it truly engaging.
They welcome you with a hook—a focus on new products.
When you enter the store, you are allowed to decompress. More importantly, no one sprays you down with unwanted fragrances.
The associate approaches you with a simple, genuine welcome and invites you to start your store experience with the newest product launch.
You don’t need to answer an empty question like “What can I help you find today?” (which is just a dressed up closed-ended question) especially when you don’t have anything specific in mind. Plus, now you know that something new just launched.
They connect with you with personalized statements.
The sales associate tells you that she will check on you, and she does. Even though there are several other customers in the store, she checks in with you as she has with each of them.
To you, she says, “I love that scarf; it reminds me of a new necklace we just got in!” Now, you’re intrigued by products in the store that work with accessories you already own.
They re-approach you with product knowledge statements.
You’ve been staring at a wall of lotions like you’re trying to decode an alien language. The sales associate approaches you again, this time saying: “That item you’re looking at is one of our best-sellers, and a personal favorite of mine.”
Perfect! The sales associate answered a question you had, and now you know that she will be the perfect person to ask about a gift you are trying to put together.
They suggest complementary items and continue to share features and benefits.
The sales associate, who is now your guru, suggests multiple complementary items instead of asking “Is there anything else I can get you?”
She continues to engage you, saying, “We have a pair of earrings that would be perfect with that necklace; let me show you.” Or, “If you purchase this product, you’ll qualify for a bonus gift—perfect to have on hand for your next occasion!”
Instead of saying “No thanks, I’m just browsing” yet again, you ask questions and take her up on her suggestions. After all, they were exactly what you needed!
You’re grateful for her help, and pleased to have the “inside track” to new products and promotions.
They tell you about exclusive events, promotions, and news.
At checkout, the cashier thanks you for your purchase, but he doesn’t stop there. He invites you to a special event the store will host this weekend.
You aren’t really their target audience for this event, but you know that your daughter and all of her friends would love to attend.
Instead of repeating empty words that you’ve heard hundreds of times, this store experience stands out from the crowd—new products, new services, new promotions, exclusive sneak-peeks—all of which were presented to you through easy conversations.
You walk away from this easy, hassle-free store experience knowing that you’ll be back soon!
And that is the power of suggestive selling.