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Jim Green's blog

For Sales Associates # 5

October 5, 2012

In this series, I have been identifying a few tricks, tips and truths which retail salespeople might use to achieve the sometimes elusive ‘increase in sales'. My hope is that managers will use these as topics for group discussions with their associates. I would love to hear back from readers for feedback.

Selling and Trust
I was raised in the men's clothing business. My Dad owned a clothing store in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida for 30 years. He was a crackerjack salesman and he taught me a great many lessons on the craft of selling; and after all, most excellent salespeople can generally sell pretty much anything assuming they have the knowledge about what they are presenting. One thing he taught me was that a major component in selling (especially big ticket items) lies in gaining the customer's trust. Another was to sell the customer what they needed and wanted, not what you would like to sell them; to think more about selling the right merchandise and less about the commission check. A third was that a sale could be lost in the first 60 seconds of the presentation. It might not be made but it certainly could be lost in a very brief instant.

This next tactic might not appeal to everyone; it may appear to be a little too gimmicky. It must, however, be understood within the context of selling the right merchandise for the customer and her needs. To some, furniture salespeople are only marginally higher on the sales pecking order than used car salespeople. Trust needs to be established quickly. As a clothing seller and later selling furniture I used this little maneuver to generate a connection and trust with a customer. If a man, for example, came in and was looking for a particular type of suit, in my mind I would establish the selection of suits that he might respond to and those that he would not. Before showing him the suits that might work for his needs, I pulled out several that did not; that I knew he would not like and exclaim, ‘No, this one is just not right for you for X reason' before the customer could turn it down. It established that I was really concerned that the customer buy the suit that was right for him and that I cared about him (both of which I did). I gained a bit of trust. This little tactic just moved the process along some. Later, I used the same tactic selling furniture with great success. To readers that think that this is too manipulative, I would have to respond ‘fine. It doesn't work for you so don't use it'. To the others I would say, "Try it. It can create a quick bond; but only, if you sincerely want to do right by your customer."