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Retail Greatness Blog

The 7 Steps of the Retail Sale

Ok. I'm going to make this super simple for you.

As you already know, people have been selling things to other people for thousands of years. And over all those many years, those who became experts have figured out what it takes to be an expert – literally millions of times.

And what they all say is that there are seven, easy, steps that make up the retail sale. Learn them. Live them. Love them. And you too can become a master of retail sales, and achieve retail greatness!

 The 7 Steps of the Retail Sale

In fact, these seven steps are so powerful, so important, and so core to the retail selling skill set that we feel every retail salesperson must understand them inside and out. Whether you’re at the beginning, intermediate, or advanced level of retail sales – in every case our intent with this blog, when we write about retail sales, is to do too things:

  • Reinforce the 7 steps
  • Get you better and better at using them

So what are these 7 steps?

  1. The Open/Approach. If you want to sell to people, you are going to have to approach them and begin a conversation. 
  • There are many good, tried, and true ways of approaching customers, and many bad ones. So during this course, we will help you to learn what to do – and what not to do.
  • When we teach this topic, we need to address the same two points you’ll hear over and over – there are skills and there is attitude. We can give you a number of scripts and ways of approaching; but if you are not confident and/or have a frown on your face, they won’t work.
  • We will also talk during this course about what to do when things go wrong, how to practice, and how to get better.
  • At the end of the day, this process should be fun, and you should go home at night feeling great -- knowing you did your level best to help everyone who came into your store. 
  1. Probing/Questioning. Sales is about helping people get what they want. So if you want to help people get what they want, you have to know what they want (and why they want it). So you’re going to have to ask them some questions.
  • There’s an art to probing and questioning. Too fast, too much and you’ll push people away. Too slow, too little and you won’t be helpful. We will walk you through this process.
  • But the bottom line is you have two missions to accomplish – find out what they want, and more importantly find out why they want it. Once you know why they want what they want, everything gets easier…for you to do your best job of helping them get what they need to have success in whatever they are doing…from cooking a meal…to dressing for a job interview…to building a deck for their home.
  • There’s a saying that people don’t’ care what you know until they know how much you care. Asking the right questions at the right time lets them know you care.
  1. Demonstration/Presentation. Once you know what they want (and why) – it becomes easy in your mind to think of their need as a problem, and your product(s) as a solution. So again, if you’re going to help them solve their problem, you’ll need to present a solution.
  • Here we want to introduce you to some general business concepts of retailers. Retailers measure success in three primary ways: traffic flow, basket size, and margin. Basically, if more people come in, put more in the cart, and what they put in their cart is profitable – everybody wins. IF what is put in the customers’ carts actually helps the customer.
  • So, when you present and/or demonstrate your solution to their problem, you want to present the entire solution. If they are buying a hammer, do they have nails? If they are buying a dress do they need shoes, a purse, other accessories? Always present an entire solution and your happy customer will return for more help later. And in one small way with one demonstration you’re doing your part to increase traffic, basket.
  • Regarding margin, do you believe in your store brands? Do you believe that the better and best versions of the products in your store are actually better and best? If not, you need to get to work learning why they are. Then, when you present your solution, when the store brand, or vendor’s better/best brands are appropriate – suggest them. Now you’re hitting all three goals in one pitch.
  1. Trial Close. This is nothing more than asking the customer if your solution will work for them. Simple.
  • Example: “Ok. You’re building a deck for your house. You have the screw-gun, the screws, the angle irons, and the wood. Will you need a tool-belt and knee-pads?” “No? Ok then, ready to check out?”
  • You want to be careful not to try this too early – and we will talk more about this in depth during the course. But the bottom line is, when you get the idea that there will be no more add-ons, and the buyer is ready you want to start them thinking about actually making the purchase.
  1. Handling Objections. A lot of people think that handling objections are really scary – but in reality they are just a way of hearing back from somebody that your solution isn’t going to work for them – or that they don’t see enough value to justify the price tag. 
  • If your solution isn’t going to work for them you should NEVER push them to accept it anyway. You’re in the business of helping people (and driving repeat business is more important than any one sale.) So if your solution doesn’t work, revert back to the asking questions step and figure out what went wrong.
  • A note about pricing objections – the price is always too high, isn’t it? I mean for you, that is. Do you ever want to pay the price for anything if you don’t have to? The only reason you pay the price for anything is that the value of what you’re getting EXCEEDS the value of the money you’re spending. Otherwise you’re better off keeping the money! So hearing that something costs too much means you have more work to do in the demonstration/presentation stage. Start over there and build in more value for the customer.
  1. Closing the sale. There is a funny irony here because you have to assume the customer is going to buy during the entire process (positive thinking leads the customer to act in the direction that everybody is thinking – towards the sale); but at the same time you can never assume the customer is going to actually complete the sale without your help.
  • You’ll need to develop purposeful skills that help you determine that the customer is ready to buy, and then take steps to connect the customer to the purchase. Lead the customer to accept the solution that you have co-created and make it his or her own.
  • It is ONLY by ensuring that the customer actually buys that the customer’s problems are solved. And it is ONLY by ensuring that the customer actually buys that the retailer’s goals of increased basket and margin are realized – and to a certain extent increased traffic as well! (Because if they know that your store offers real solutions, they will tell their friends and come back.)
  1. Confirming the sale/referrals/inviting back.
  • many times have you bought something and then had “buyer’s remorse?” You know, that feeling of, “did I make a bad choice?” Well, everybody does. In order to avoid unnecessary returns, AFTER the sale simply thank the buyer, confirm how the products solve the problem, and compliment the decision. Something like, “Thank you for your purchase. Let me know how your deck turns out, with the solution we put in place, it’s going to be awesome!”
  • Notice in the above sentence that you’ve also invited them back. This is a critical function we will talk much about later in the course.
  • In certain businesses, it is appropriate to ask for referrals. We will cover that as well.

So there is a lot of material in this video, and each one of the steps can have entire books written about them. By the time you finish the course you’ll be able to write a book on each one of them!

But for now you have a very basic understanding of the fact that selling is really about helping people solve their problems, and each of the step above is just a roadmap for how to most successfully help customer solve their problems – and buy your products in the process.

Go out and be great!





Topics: retail sales skills