Sales. Every retailer wants ‘em and many businesses go to great lengths to get more sales. And if you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking for new ideas on how to increase sales in your business.
Maybe your promotions aren’t working as well as before, or perhaps you just want to brush up on retail selling techniques. Whatever it is, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll run through 7 selling techniques that can unlock more opportunities and revenues in your business.
Check them out below and see which ideas you can implement in your stores.
1. Tell a story
It’s been scientifically proven that our brains respond well to stories, so it’s a good idea to incorporate narratives into your sales practices.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
Tell your brand’s story
If you have a compelling origin story, make sure your customers know about it. Why did you decide to start your business? What challenges did you overcome? How are you helping make the world a better place?
You should put your story on paper and make sure you and your associates know how to deliver it perfectly. Practice telling the story and find ways to naturally work it into the conversation. For instance, if a new customer walks in asking general questions about the business, you can grab the opportunity to introduce them to your brand through a powerful story.
So, rather than giving generic answers like “We sell maternity clothes” you can dive into the company’s origin story by saying something like “Our founder, Michelle, had trouble finding stylish, comfy clothes when she was pregnant, so she designed this wonderful dress that women couldn’t get enough of!”
And if possible, try to work your brand’s story into your store’s design. The Ministry of Supply store in Los Angeles, for example, has the company’s story written on its wall.
Tell stories about your products
Got any interesting products in stock? Tell your customers about them. Give them an inside look into the items they’re interested in, so they can have more info on the products they’re buying.
Aside from helping shoppers make a more informed decision, telling a story behind each item makes them memorable and sets your products apart. So, don’t be afraid to share those tales when shoppers ask about an item. If you know the designer of a purse, for instance, why not tell the customer more about them?
In some cases, you can use your displays and signage to do this.
Tell customer stories
People will be much more inclined to buy a product if they know that it’s worked for someone else. That’s why you should never shy away from sharing stories from other customers.
Did a customer wear your dress on the night she got engaged? Have you sold items that were given as gifts for special moments or life milestones? Collect success stories from your customers and be ready to tell them when the opportunity comes up.
You can do this in person when discussing a product with a shopper. You could say something along the lines of… “I had a customer last month who purchased Brand X and she loved it so much she bought three more yesterday!”
And don’t forget to showcase your customer stories online. The skincare brand Drunk Elephant does an amazing job here. The company regularly features real customer stories on Instagram, to provide social proof that its products work.
2. Engage in cross-selling
Cross-selling is a powerful sales technique that can boost order values — which leads to higher revenues and a healthier bottom line. But how exactly should you do it? Well, there are a handful of components to consider when you’re attempting to cross-sell. These include:
You have to know the right time to cross-sell. Often, the best window comes when the customer has committed to buying a product and you’ve already spent time getting to know them. For example, if someone is buying a dress and you know they’re wearing it to a casual event, then you can use cross-sell matching accessories.
When is the wrong time to cross-sell? For starters, don’t do it right away. If a customer just picked up a product two seconds ago, it’s not a good idea to hop into a cross-selling spiel. You should also pay attention to their budget and how much time they have to shop. If the customer is on a strict budget or schedule, it’s best to get them in and out quickly.
Value and benefit to the customer
Don’t try to cross-sell just because you’re trying to meet your sales targets. Do it to truly add value to the customer’s purchase. If you genuinely believe that an add-on product would benefit the shopper, then, by all means, suggest it to them. But if they don’t have a need, it’s best to let them get on with the original purchase.
Shoppers today have strong BS detectors. Many can smell self-serving salespeople from a mile away. If they sense that you’re pushing unnecessary products, you will lose the sale.
Pay attention to the cost of the items you’re suggesting. As Bob Phibbs points out, “the suggested item shouldn’t exceed more than a certain percentage [around 25%] of the cost of the original item.”
This means that if a customer is buying a $100 overnight bag, don’t recommend another $100 item. Instead, pick something within the $25 range — say a matching pouch or bag tag.
3. Consider upselling
Unlike cross-selling, which is when you recommend an item relevant to the original purchase, upselling is offering a pricier version of the item. Think of it as asking the shopper if they want to upgrade their purchase.
For instance, if someone wants to buy a basic vacuum cleaner, you could encourage them to go for the 2nd-tier or the premium model.
Many of the cross-selling principles we discussed above also apply to upselling. You want to time your approach properly, make sure your upsell genuinely adds value, and you shouldn’t go overboard with pricing.
4. Do product demos and testing
One of the best ways to sell a product is to show it action, or better yet, let the customer experience the item for themselves. You can do both by running product demos and testing stations in your store.
Encourage your customers to test and demo your products by putting them out in the open versus keeping them in boxes. We can see this tip in action at The Olive Oil Dispensary (TOOD), a Burlington-based retail store that specializes in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
TOOD allows customers to taste their olive oils and vinegar products before buying, and this sets them apart from competitors who keep all their products in bottles and cases. TOOD’s products are inside dispensers with taps and there are small cups beside each one, so customers can pour themselves a sample.
“Product names and descriptions can only take you so far, and since we have dozens of products to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming,” shares the family who owns the store. “It’s so nice to have a store where customers can “test drive” to their hearts’ content!”
5. Instilling a sense of urgency and scarcity
This one is a classic selling technique, but it’s still relevant today. Fear of missing out (also known as FOMO) is a real thing. When leveraged properly, you can use FOMO to drive sales.
Limited-time offers or scarcity promotions people to take action. Consider the following examples.
Bath and Body Works has a “today only” promotion on its checkout counter.
And in the example below, the luxury marketplace Gilt is promoting its “almost sold out items” to encourage shoppers to check out the products while they last.
6. Educate your customers
Educational initiatives can do wonders for your sales. Teaching your customers something new not only positions you as an authority in your niche, it also builds trust and drives sales and loyalty.
So, find ways to educate your customers. Hold classes or invite experts to your store to impart their knowledge.
One example of a retailer doing this well is Sephora. The beauty retailer holds free makeup and skincare classes in its stores. The subject matter ranges from beginner topics (e.g., “Makeup 101,” skincare basics, etc.) to more advanced makeup tricks (e.g., contouring, eyelash wings, etc.). What’s great about classes is that in addition to getting people to stick around, they also pave a natural path to purchase.
In Sephora’s case, the associates mention that people can purchase the products they used in the class. No one is required to buy, though. Sephora’s team does a good job of not putting any pressure on class attendees.
They do make it a point to follow-up via email. Everyone who signs up for a Sephora class gets a message thanking them for attending. The email includes links to the items they’ve tried, in case the customer is interested in buying them.
7. Practice clienteling
Clienteling is exactly what it sounds like: you treat people as clients and not just customers.
Clienteling is a sales technique used by associates to develop long-term relationships with shoppers. It involves recording each shopper’s purchase history and keeping in touch with clients to further get to know them and drive repeat traffic and purchases.
Luxury retailers have mastered the art of clienteling. It’s not uncommon for associates to build relationships with regular clients. They keep in touch, tell them about products they might like and invite them to special events. Have a look at this example from Chanel.
Consider doing something similar to your best customers. Start treating your VIPs as clients, and do your best to cater to their individual needs.
Start putting these selling techniques to work!
As you can see, there are various selling techniques you can implement to drive more revenue in your business. You just have to pick the ones that work best for your retail store. But no matter which technique you decide on, be sure to use your selling power for good. Strive to serve your customers better and see to it that you’re selling them products that truly add value to their lives.