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Retail Greatness Blog

If You're in Retail Your Primary Job is to Sell

We talk a lot about how selling is helping, and how we don’t shove products on people who don’t want or need them – and that’s true.

But, and this is a big but, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility to sell. If a retail sales company doesn’t make sales, it doesn’t remain in business very long – and as a retail sales associate you have been hired to ensure that those sales happen.

If you're in Retail, Your Primary Job is to Sell

In fact, there are three primary things you need to be concerned with:

  • Increasing traffic to your store -- i.e. more chances to sell
  • Increasing basket size (the average purchase dollar amount per shopper visit) -- i.e. more sales per person
  • Increasing margin (the average profit per shopper visit) -- i.e. the most profitable sales

(Later on, we'll discuss those things in detail -- but the the point for now is -- it's all about selling.)

You may be wondering where is the disconnect? We’ve said many times don’t force products on people – and now we are saying you’re accountable for helping the company to increase sales. Which is it?

Well it’s both. While you’re not going to stuff a bunch of unnecessary products in somebody’s order, you are responsible for selling them as much as you can for every sale.  And here’s the fine point:

They are going to buy some, most, or all of what you potentially sell them somewhere, and from somebody, at some time in the future (provided they want those items – and most especially if you help them uncover the fact that they want or need those items every before they realize it.)

Let that sink in for a moment.

Here’s an example: Let’s say somebody comes into your store looking for a flashlight. An amateur will say, “the flashlights are on aisle 7.” That’s somebody who doesn’t understand their primary job is to sell.

But not you. You will walk them over to the flashlights and maybe ask a question or two about what kind of flashlight they are looking for. That might naturally lead to why they want one, or what they plan to do with it.

Now the thing that’s obvious here, is if they buy one flashlight, they are going to need batteries for it at some point. Because it’s your primary job to sell, you should certainly ask them if they need batteries, because that’s helpful and helps the customer to solve the problem of having light where there is not enough light – when they need more light.

In fact, if you send them out of the store without offering them batteries, you have failed a very basic level. A customer came into your store with a problem (needing light when there is not enough light) and you sent them out with a partial solution. For all you know, they have no batteries and their problem is still not solved – despite the time and trouble they took to drive to your store and get a flashlight!

Now, you may be thinking – they probably have batteries – and they might have batteries. But if they have batteries at home they have them for a reason (to have back-up batteries). And if they use some of their back-up batteries on the flashlight, guess what… they are going to need to replenish their store of backup batteries.

So if you simply offer batteries, “need some batteries for this?” the answer may be “no, I have plenty,” but if you think one move ahead and say, “do you need some batteries for either this flashlight or to replenish what you’ll use on it from home?” Again, you have offered a more complete solution – and just might influence the purchase of some batteries.

But before you even go there, if you walked them to the aisle and managed to find out why they were buying a flashlight, perhaps you found out that they were going to a campfire with their family. Well, what happens at campfires? Fire, cookouts, etc.

So your move? “What else will you need to make your cookout an awesome experience for you and your family? Or , “Oh, wow. Bugs are terrible this time of year. Have you ever tried our brand of bug spray?”… the list goes on.

So in summary, just because you shouldn’t pressure people to buy products they don’t need – your primary responsibility is to help them figure out the things they already know they need (and some things they don’t yet realize they need) and capture those sales for yourself and your company – while creating complete solutions for everyone who walks through your doors.

Topics: retail sales