5 steps into the making of a GREAT sales person


by Lynda Kavanagh


It is getting harder and harder to get good help. There’s no doubt about that, but when you do find good people, are you supporting them with sales training? You want more than just a body there to welcome people into the store. You want your sales person to make customers feel comfortable and to help them make a decision to buy.  

People come into a destination store for a reason and it’s the sales person’s job to find out what that reason is. That means asking questions in a way that is not pushy, aggressive or rude. Not an easy task. Here are a few tips on how to train your sales people to be GREAT:


1. Know your company’s brand

Every business should have a brand philosophy – “This is what our customers can expect from us.” Your role as the manager or owner of a business is to ensure all staff understand what the company’s brand philosophy is, and to live that brand in dealing with each and every customer. 


2. First impressions count

It takes one-tenth of a second to make a first impression. In that short period, many people will make a judgment call based on the store and the sales person’s first impression. Technically, we aren’t supposed to talk about looks, but bottom line, a sales persons’s appearance will set the stage for that first impression (the store’s first impression is for another blog posting). An effective first impression also means paying attention to body language since it represents 90% of all in-person communication.


3. Be sincere

We have all met those sales people who smile, but you can tell they don’t really care about you. GREAT sales personnel do care. They try to find some sort of bond with the people coming in the door. It could be they like the customer’s shoes, coat or jewellery. The sales person makes a comment and a personal statement. “I love your shoes. I’m a bit of a shoe freak so I can’t help looking at everyone’s shoes.” What this does is create a connection between the sales person and the customer, immediately putting the customer in a comfortable state of mind. Of course, whatever personal statement you make to people it must be truthful and authentic.


4. Greet customers when they come in

People need to be acknowledged when they come into the store. Give them a chance to look around before you pounce on them and ask if they need any help. In France, whenever a woman walks in a store, the sales person greets her with a “Bonjour, Madame.” It sounds nice and welcoming. It may be a bit formal by Canadian standards, but some sort of acknowledgement is important. If you’re with another customer when someone new walks into the store, simply ask if you can be excused for a moment to greet that new customer walking in. Then when you return, thank the first customer for excusing you and then resume your sales process.


5. Learn the proper way to upsell

Upselling is not a dirty word if it’s done properly. Upselling helps when a sales person has the customer’s best interests at heart. If a man purchases a necklace for his wife’s birthday, it’s not being pushy to ask if he thinks she would also like matching earrings or a bracelet. If he responds that he’s fine only with the necklace, a gentle upsell could be to remind him of upcoming holidays and that he could purchase the earrings/bracelet today and save himself some shopping in the future. That’s not pushy, that’s being helpful.


Finally, I often hear owners or managers say they don’t want to invest in training staff because “they’re just going to leave.” I worry about that kind of statement. Why? It fails to recognize the potential damage an untrained sales person can do to a business if they stay and don’t leave.


Lynda Kavanagh has owned and operated WOW Communications & Training since 1994. Her company provides business coaching and training focusing on sales and marketing issues.

Lynda will be a speaker at the Spring 2017 Toronto Gift Fair.

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