Increasing Retail Sales in a less than robust economy in brick and mortar businesses?

Wondering how to keep up or increase your sales during an economic recession or downturn?  Keep these tips in mind to keep your customers coming back!

Recession?  What recession?

Stop participating in and creating the self fulfilling prophecy of artificial economic recessions.

When economic drivers start to change and the mainstream media begin to promote fear in everyday programming, you have to realize that they’re really doing the same thing as you: trying to sell.  In their case its advertising and negative news promotes fear which attracts viewers.  Medium is irrelevant. When you get past that point, it becomes easier to approach every customer in a positive frame of mind, with the full intention of fulfilling their needs and requests.  Most importantly, remember that they walked through your door with a purpose in mind, with an intent to, at the very least shop your selection and experience your level of service before deciding where to spend their dollars.  Somebody is doing the business in an economic recession.  It sure better be you.

Approach your customer with authenticity

We’ve all been approached by the obnoxious sales guy. The commission based, in your face, sell you everything you don’t need, doesn’t hear a word you say, stereotypical, made for TV salesperson. Don’t be that guy!
Practice and excel at effective listening, and the mining of your customers real wants and needs.  Stop being a salesman and become a service provider and problem solver.  Your customer came through the door with a problem they are hoping to solve.  Help them solve it.
The minute a customer comes through your door it is our instinct to say hello and ask if there’s anything they need help with.  Truly great retail salespeople greet the customer, but usually sit back and watch their behaviour before making their way over.  Observing the behaviour of customers before striking up a dialogue, can give you an idea of their intentions and might give you a clue as to what they want from you before you actually have to ask.  If your customer comes through you door, is greeted, and heads directly to the tie section, they’re most likely looking for a new tie.
Re-phrase your standard opening questions.  Instead of asking questions in which your customer can answer with “no”, ask a question that is not answerable with either a yes or a no.  Your customer is greeted and heads to the tie section, you wait and watch, then head over.  Your standard question “can I help you find anything?” or “is there something I can help you with” could be replaced with something as simple as “what colour of shirt are you trying to match with?” This forces them to answer a very direct question with an answer which allows you to insert yourself directly into their shopping experience without them even knowing you did it, and allows you to deliver a level of service that feels personal and hands on.  None of the sleaze!

Service vs Selling

When you can change your mindset and realize that 95% of your customers are coming through your doorway with a goal, an intention, and a problem that they are trying to solve, viewing your role as service instead of sales comes naturally.  If you can focus on mining for details, listening effectively and with intent you’ll build trust.  If you can change your language from yes and no questions to questions that allow you to insert yourself into their experience seamlessly, you’ll build personal relationships.  If you can do all of these things with authenticity, you’ll gain customers and increase retail sales, in any economy.