Driving Sales by Directing Traffic – a Retail Sales Management Story

A friend of mine was looking for a new washer and dryer this past week and invited me to go shopping with him so that I could render my opinion.  We visited two competing big box specialty retail stores in our town.  As always, since I make my living training retail sales managers and acting as a consultant to the retail industry, I took the opportunity to observe the activity in the locations.  Here is a summary of our shopping experience:

Waiting for Service Means Sales Reps are Waiting for the Sale

We visited store number one which is generally considered a market leader in this segment and as expected, they had a great selection of brands and products.  My friend had done his research in advance and had his mind set on a Samsung and this store carried the exact product he was looking for.  All he wanted to do was see it in person and ask a few clarifying questions.

We walked into the appliance department (past three sales associates in the aisle who were talking to each other) and located the washer/dryer he was interested in.  We started reading the price tags; playing with the knobs; and opening and closing the doors while we waited for a sales person to assist us. 

After a few minutes we were getting impatient so I walked up to the group of sales reps and asked if they could locate someone to assist us.  I was told that someone would be over in a few minutes, so we went back to looking at washing machines including other models that were more expensive. 

It took at least another five minutes for the sales rep to come over and when my friend asked him about the difference between the Samsung model and a Maytag the sales rep told us that the information was all on the price tags.  At that point we told the sales rep that we appreciated his help and then left the store while the sales rep went back to chatting with his friends.

A Friendly Greeting Makes All the Difference

We then went across the parking lot to a competitor’s store.  Upon entering we noticed that the store was very busy and my friend commented that we should think about going somewhere else, but I told him that since we were there we might at least look.

We walked into the appliance department that was staffed by four sales representatives all of whom were engaged with customers.  Despite that, one of them gave us a cheery wave and said she would be with us in a few moments.  

We started looking at the washers and dryers like we did in the previous location and within 30 seconds another sales rep came up to us.  He introduced himself as the store sales manager and asked if we were being served.  We said no but that we did have a few questions. 

The sales manager immediately realized that questions about the product are a buying signal and so told us that he would be happy to serve us, but that we would be better served if he got us one of his product experts. 

He promptly pulled a sales representative from the department across the aisle (hooray for cross training!) who came over and not only answered our questions, but convinced my friend to invest in a premium machine that was over his original budget!

Are You Putting Sales Reps in Contact With Customers?

While my friend was completing his paperwork and arranging for delivery I spent my time observing the sales manager.  For the next 20 minutes he made sure to walk a complete circuit of his store no fewer than 3 times. 

In each case he made sure to greet customers and put them in contact with sales representatives.  When he was not doing that, he was talking sales with his team members making sure that they had goals and knew where they stood with achieving them. 

Which store – and which chain – is experiencing sales and profit gains?  It is a no brainer.  AND making sure that you are managing your sales floor by directing activities and traffic like a traffic cop is a no brainer too!

Would you like assistance with improving your retail sales management and other activities that can increase revenue, reduce costs and optimize profits?  Contact us today for a free one-hour consultation!

-          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has directed the activities of hundreds of retail locations and thousands of retail sales representatives and store managers.  RAG offers consulting services, retail sales training and management training programs.   You can learn more at www.retailertrainingservices.com.