Death of a Salesman and the Birth of a New Era in Retail Selling


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Death of a Salesman and the Birth of a New Era in Retail Selling

  1. 1. TEC BEST PRACTICESDeath of a Salesman and the Birth of a New Era in Retail Selling!By: Andre Vlcek, TEC Speaker and Chair of TPP 505Reports predicting the death of the salesman and its perceived negative impact onretail floor traffic numbers and sales conversion ratios have circulated since thebeginning of the dotcom boom. Consumers are doing research online and quickly discover the good, the bad and the ugly aboutyour product or service without ever needing to visit your showroom or speak to your sales people.Online product performance comparisons, customer ratings and other unbiased information providedby experts have made the task of selling a limited range of products from within a retailenvironment more challenging compared to any other time in the past!Perhaps the Management Guru Peter Drucker was right all along when he famously said 30 yearsago - that the purpose of marketing was to make selling superfluous. With the benefit of hindsightperhaps Peter Drucker would have translated the word marketing to its new age manifestation - theinternet!Many Australian retailers have reacted negatively to this environment and cut numbers of sales staffto the point where service is almost non-existent and sales revenues are in decline. For theseretailers, the death of a retail salesman has almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy.But compare this with a visit to your local Apple store over the weekend and we think you will veryquickly discover the seeds of a new era in retail selling – one focussed on creating exceptionalcustomer experience.The traditional retail senior executive will lament - ‘We can never become another Apple - so that’s auseless comparison, and The Internet has eroded our margins and stolen our customers - so theonly thing left to do is to cut our costs. Finally the traditional retail executive asks - What wouldyou do - if you were in our shoes?And we would respond to the traditional senior retail executives question with the following fiverecommendations: 1. Recruit for high performance. Design an exceptional employee attraction strategy that attracts the highest quality candidates to your store. Make sure you deploy validated psychometric instruments such as the SPQ Gold in order to select the most ‘salesy’ employee from a limited pool of candidates. 2. Build a strong capability. Design and build exceptional sales skills capability across the whole team. Make sure the team translates every transaction into an exceptional experience for the customer. Put in place tools and processes to ensure the exceptional customer experience is replicated and becomes the norm for how we do things around here. Remember: every time we touch our customer it presents us with an opportunity to shine and an opportunity to be remembered by our customer. 3. Go to customers before they come to you. Convert reactive ‘order-takers’ into proactive ‘hunters’. Identify and partition your high value customers into a segment that you proactively contact and engage with. When the showroom is quiet or empty, make sure you pick up the phones and contact your high value customers with special offers or updates.Copyright © 2012 TEC l Best Practices Page 1
  2. 2. TEC BEST PRACTICES During quiet times, think about setting an appointment with a customer so you can conduct a really good needs analysis in a comfortable environment. Be prepared to visit really valuable customers in their office or their home. 4. Measure and reward proactive sales behaviour. Recognise, reward and celebrate proactive sales behaviour in addition to just sales results. There is a significant ‘lag effect’ sometimes of up to twelve months between proactive sales behaviour and exceptional sales results. Actively solicit testimonials from delighted customers. Measure the number of satisfied customers generated by each salesperson and the number of internal and external appointments made with customers. Reward and invest in the right behaviour and the sales results will take care of itself. 5. Become truly customer focussed. Let your customers know you really care. You don’t have to contact your customers just because you want to sell them something. Develop mobile phone applications to connect with your customers. When it’s their birthday contact them and let them know you really care. You need a technology-driven solution for the low value customers and a more personalised or tailored one for the high value ones.The biggest single mistake the retail executive can make is to cave in to the commodity trap andgive up the search for excellence! Beginning tomorrow, make sure your single biggest source ofcompetitive advantage is you and your people. Invest appropriately to create an exceptionalcustomer experience your competitors cannot mimic and don’t accept second best as the paradigmfor how things are done on the showroom floor!One final thought. Give up trying to match the Apple customer experience - try to exceed it instead!About The AuthorAndre Vlcek is a chairperson of The Executive Connection, a peer to peer mentoring network which encouragesbetter leadership and management amongst business owners, executives and CEOs.Andre leads and mentors a group of TEC members, focussing specifically on strategic sales practices.Andre is also Managing Director of Sales Psychology Australia, and has designed and implemented highlyeffective and innovative sales transformation strategies for small, medium and large organisations, both here inAustralia and overseas. Andre frequently speaks to Business Leaders in Australian and overseas, about newtrends and strategies across the arenas of Sales and Marketing.Andre was awarded The Executive Connections (TEC), Best New Speaker Award for 2009 and is one of only ahandful of speakers to have been awarded the prestigious 100 Club award for speaker excellence during thelast 25 years.Andre can be contacted on 0425 707731 or by email: © 2012 TEC l Best Practices Page 2