Suggestive selling can boost retail revenues significantly. But to succeed at it, you must ask yourself:
- Are our associates doing all the right things to boost in-store sales?
- Are we doing all we can to encourage, train, and empower them?
These questions are particularly important for your millennial workforce. There are two reasons for this. First, millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, and they will occupy roughly 75% of all jobs by 2030. Second, millennials bring a unique perspective and set of expectations to the sales floor, leading many retailers to change the way they operate.
To get your millennial associates to master the art suggestive selling, you need to step into their shoes. Appeal to their instincts. And get them to look at “selling” in a whole new light.
Taking the “Selling” Out of “Suggestive Selling”
At its best, suggestive selling doesn’t feel like selling at all. It feels like a genuine attempt to brighten a customer’s day by finding him or her the perfect solution. Naturally, baskets get a little fuller. And customers leave feeling grateful, valued, and happy to return.
Done poorly, suggestive selling is like a repugnant odor wafting through your stores. One whiff of a bad sales pitch is all it takes. Customers recoil, and they leave dissatisfied. The damage is done.
Once your millennial employees understand the importance of getting this right, you can start to build their enthusiasm and sharpen their skills. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Engage, engage, engage.
Effective employee engagement is the first and most important step to improving suggestive selling. This is particularly true for millennials, who thrive on a sense of shared purpose. To inspire your millennial associates to aim higher, you must educate them on your brand, get them excited about it, instill a passion for it, and make them feel like an extension of it.
2. Emphasize the Golden Rule.
Millennials crave a shopping experience that’s authentic, personalized, and helpful. You should encourage your millennial employees to “sell” to others as they would like to be “sold” to—in the right tone, at the right time, for the right reason.
3. Don’t script it.
Suggestive selling is all about personality, spontaneity, and connection. Scripted sales pitches allow for none of that. If you want to set the stage for distinct, memorable encounters, grant your millennial associates the flexibility and freedom to go wherever customers lead them and to make every engagement their own.
4. Stress the importance of good listening.
Have you ever encountered a tone-deaf associate who waited for you to stop talking before launching into irrelevant product suggestions? If you have, you know how frustrating it is to be heard but not listened to. Make good listening a training priority—using role playing, etc.—and make it fun for your millennial staff.
5. Measure consistency and effectiveness on an ongoing basis.
Suggestive selling can do wonders for your brand and your bottom line. But competent, consistent execution is critical. If some associates are practicing it sporadically in some of your stores with mixed success, your strategy will fail. The only way to know what’s happening and what’s working—and to adjust your tactics and/or training as necessary—is through an ongoing mystery shopping program.
Are Your Millennial Associates Fully on Board?
What’s your secret to getting millennials to embrace and excel at suggestive selling? How have you adapted your suggestive selling program over time?