Archive for the 'Selling Tips' Category

Welcome Aboard

Sunday, May 19th, 2013


One Chance
A first impression is INDEED a lasting impression, and you only get one chance to make one. I was reminded of this archived posting today and decided to refresh it. I had two interviews a while back that made very poor first impressions and I stopped right there. The first one was 15 minutes late, full of piercings including two fresh cheek dimple piercings that were still bandaged. The other looked like she just got out of bed and pulled on her hooded sweatshirt and and baggy pants to go apply for the job. When people show up for a job interview like this, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will get even get worse after getting the job. You get lucky when you can screen them at this point before exposing them to your customers. Those that get throught the interview will continue to make more “First Impressions.” Read On!
New salespeople show up on day one ready to succeed. Sometimes they even sell more than existing “old timers” are currently. What’s with that? How can a brand new person with very little product knowledge outsell a seasoned veteran that knows it all? It’s because the new person still thinks everyone is going to buy, that you have a great company, and that your way is the right way.


The Right Attitude!
That shiney new salesperson may not have the knowledge yet, but still has the enthusiasm it takes to make the right first impression on customers. That means more than knowledge alone. Answers to questions can be found, and sometimes just the honest admission that one doesn’t “know it all” can go a long way to making the sale.


“Water Cooler Training”
It’s important to shield new salespeople from influences that can be harmful to their success. Too many times we see people get hired and then turned over to the existing staff to “train” them. A past partner of mine had a rule; “Live with them the first week.  Keep them by your side, have lunch with them, and even stand outside the restroom when they go in there.”


“Here’s how it really works.”
At the interview and in your initial meetings with new salespeople they hear how things are supposed to work. Then, when they get to work with your existing staff they find out how it’s “really done.” Unfortunately old timers pick up some bad habits along the way. They learn shortcuts that sometimes lead to short paychecks. They start accumulating excuses for missed sales. They gossip about company policies and decisions. Your shiney new salespeople can be influenced by these impressions, and before you know it the shine is gone.


You Cannot Train People!
Animals can be “trained” to do something, and once “trained” will always do it. One would assume that if you can train a dog to sit up, that you can train a human being to sell. I have a problem with the word “training.” Managers sometimes think that once a person has been “trained” that he or she will always behave in the way taught, and the learning stops. The reality is that “sales coaching” is an ongoing process whereas “training” is thought of as a one time event.


Hands on Coaching Works
“Coaching” is understood in athletics, it never stops. Top athletes continue to be coached on how to get better at their craft. I prefer the term “coaching” when teaching selling skills, and as with athletics, it must be an ongoing process. That’s just the way it is!

Psychology In Selling

Friday, May 10th, 2013


Body Language; Yours

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” I don’t remember where I heard that, but it continues to speak loudly to me. In selling there is nothing more important than the customer’s opinion and feelings about YOU! Too often I see a salesperson or customer service person (yes there is a difference) saying one thing while his or her mind is really on something else.
I’ve actually heard rude statements (commands) followed by or proceeded by the word “Sir” as if that undoes the prior or former comment.


Make it Sincere

Never give people that “stretched lip” smile that strangers give one another when passing by at the mall. A sincere smile is obvious, it’s wide, and teeth are showing. A warm, sincere smile is welcoming, while an insincere one can be seen regardless of what you are saying.


Listen Up

After saying something it is a good practice to be quiet and give the customer an opportunity to respond. What you want to say next is not as important as how the customer feels about what you just said. And, when the other person speaks, be sure that you are listening intently and not thinking about what you want to say next.


Say What?

Words and how you empathize them are crucial. For example, take the sentence, “I didn’t say you stole it.” Now repeat it six times placing heavy emphasis on each of the six words in the sentence. I didn’t say you stole it.” Emphasizing “I” indicates that someone else said that you stole it. “I DIDN’T say you stole it.” Emphasizing the word “Didn’t” suggests that it wasn’t stolen. “I didn’t SAY you stole it.” This could mean that what you said was misunderstood. “I didn’t say YOU stole it.” Said that way it sounds like someone else did steal it. “I didn’t say you STOLE it.” Said this way makes the inference that you did something else with it. Maybe you just borrowed it. “I didn’t say you stole IT.” Now you were saying that perhaps it was something else you said was stolen. Try this little exercise a few times to see the value of word emphasis.

These are all little things that make a big difference when a salesperson talks to a customer. Sadly customers are a bit leery of salespeople because of their past experiences. Go out of your way to make certain that this selling experience is a positive one.

Taking On the Internet!

Friday, April 26th, 2013


What’s Your Biggest Challenge as a Small Retailer?
My wonderful digital scale that I bought at Sharper Image 10 years ago finally gave out on me. So, I went to the mall to buy a new one only to discover that the Sharper Image store was lo longer there. What to do???
I had just seen a survey of 100 or so small retailers that were asked what their biggest challenge is going into 2013. “The Internet” was their biggest concern.
I decided to find out for myself, so I went to Google looking for a digital scale that measures body fat in addition to weight. I discovered that Walmart and Best Buy both sell one. Because I would like to see it before buying it, I called both stores and they were both “out of stock” but said they would “order it for me.”


Fancy, but…

A friend of mine recently told me that he buys all sorts of things at Amazon. I thought all they sold was books. So, I went to Amazon, found the same scale in stock at about the same price as Walmart, so I ordered it. I was eager to get it, so I checked the box that guaranteed delivery in three days. I failed to read the fine print, and when I saw the charge, I noticed that the cost of shipping was more than the scale. When it arrived I was excited, but when I opened it up I was overwhelmed by the complexity and the detailed directions. I finally figured it out, but in less than a month it broke.



I trashed the fancy scale and went back to Amazon and ordered a simple analog scale. It was actually more expensive than the fancy digital one, but I was getting smarter now, so I became a Prime member and got it shipped for free.
The score was now two scales sales for Amazon and one lost sale for three different retailers simply because they didn’t have what I wanted when I wanted it. In the “old days” I would have waited or shopped around, but I found it easier to buy it from Amazon.



I went into the large Apple store in Waikiki to stock up on my favorite screen cleaner, iKlear. I looked all over the store but couldn’t find it. I flagged down a “salesperson” and asked where it is. She too couldn’t find it and offered to “go in the back and see if there was some there.” When she returned she told me that they don’t carry it any longer and suggested that I try a different brand. I didn’t want to do that, so I asked her if one of their other stores carried it. She didn’t know, so I went to their biggest store at Ala Moana Shopping Center. They didn’t have any either but agreed to call the Kahala Mall store for me. No luck there either, what to do???
By now I knew what to do. I went to Amazon, found it; in stock and stocked up!


Magnetic Eye Glasses Holder

I saw this really cool device on Shark Tank which allows you to hang your reading glasses on your shirt.  Misplacing reading glasses has been a problem for me for a very long time, so I thought, “This is just what I need.” I had no idea where to buy it however, so I clicked on to Amazon and searched for “magnetic eyeglass holder.” Exactly what I was looking for popped up, so I ordered it immediately. When it arrived and I began using it several people commented on it and asked me where I got it. I said, “I’ll get one for you.” I went back to Amazon and bought six more.


Drop Stop

A week later while watching Shark Tank I saw a young entrepreneur with an idea to block that “black hole” between your car seat and center console where things fall and disappear forever. I wasn’t even sure if it was on the market yet however I jumped onto Amazon and searched for Drop Stop and sure enough there it was. I ordered it immediately.



When I opened up the Drop Stop package I was surprised to find two other bonus items in there that I did not realize they were sending me. One was a cool wallet sized LED flashlight; the other a non-slip pad with two sticky sides to keep things in place. I guess they had me pegged as a guy who wants to keep control of things. They were right! I went back to Amazon and bought 10 of those to use as cool giveaways.


Sugar Scrub

I was impressed and amazed by a 17-year-old girl that came on Shark Tank promoting her Simple Gifts Farm Sugar Scrub which she had invented at 11 years old. She was so passionate and excited about the moisturizing benefits of this product that I just had to give it a try. I found it easily on Amazon and went through the first jar in no time, then went back and ordered two more.


Another Bonus

When my two jars of sugar scrub arrived there was a bonus in there; a Simple Gifts Farm Vanilla Lime Lip Balm. Hawaii has a way of drying out one’s skin and lips, so I am finding these products to be wonderful.


A Closer Look

I live on the 20th floor of our building overlooking Honolulu Harbor. There is always something interesting to look at from up here like cruise ships from around the world. When I moved in I had a crummy pair of binoculars that I could not keep focused. I had been meaning to buy a better pair for the past two years, but nothing moved me to do it. Then one day I thought, “Aha, how about Amazon?” You got it… I bought a cool pair of zooming binoculars and will start looking through them any day now.


Seeing Red

One day my wife said, “Please keep your eyes open for some special red lens glasses. This is what we use in art class to be able to see the distinct, subtle differences in colors. The ones we use came from a toy store.” I said, “Watch this” as I opened up Amazon and found what she wants in a matter of minutes.


Daily Surprises

It seems like I am ordering something new almost every day now and as a result, finding surprises sitting on my office chair every evening when I come home. As a person who never goes shopping, I have found this to be pretty amazing. I don’t even remember what’s on the way to me now.



Yes, you can compete with all of this, but not by standing by the register waiting for people to buy.

Here’s How:
In spite of the fun I have had ordering from Amazon, the truth is I would much rather be dealing with a live human being in a store.
But… You Must:
-Make shopping a fun experience.
-Let people know about you.
-Let people know what you have to sell.
-Have it in stock!
-Have Fair Prices.
-Be Sensitive.
-Make it EASY to shop.
-Never make people wait.
-Make every customer feel special.
Yes, the Internet has brought about some new competition and challenges. However I still find every mall crowded with shoppers. Your job is to convert them to buyers.
-People like to shop.
-People like to be around other people.

Salesperson Compensation Questions

Friday, October 19th, 2012


Who Gets the Money?
A recent debate on this subject has caused me to (ONCE AGAIN) dredge up this blog posting from the archives.  

Question: Should salespeople be on individual commission or work as one team?
Answer: My answer to this one varies depending upon the nature of the store or business. Generally speaking when only one person is involved in the sale, an individual commission makes sense. When other team members are required to complete the sale then a team based compensation makes more sense.


“Can’t We Just Get Along?”
Question: How do you best solve disagreements between salespeople as to whose sale it was?
Answer: When two (or more) salespeople are arguing over a sale and I am asked who is right, I say, “You are both wrong. The commission on any one sale is never more important than your relationship with each other. I wasn’t there, get together and work it out, and then tell me what you have decided is fair.”


Then What?
Question: So what’s the solution when they cannot come to a decision?
Answer: It’s Easy; Make it a “House Sale.”


Teams Work
Question: Why does teamwork work?
Answer: It’s Easy; Unless you are a “One Man Band” you can get much better results by working together towards a common goal. Regardless how your compensation program is structured, emphasizing and rewarding teamwork as a part of it will go a long way. We can help you with that on the Morning Report. If you do not get this tool in your store, give me a call. It’s a “team builder” like no other.

Be Prepared

Sunday, October 14th, 2012


Kevin Martin
I was happy to see my grandson Kevin become a Cub Scout. Scouting definitely played a role in my life when I was about his age. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, have many things in common. They learn the rules of getting along with other people and what it means to make a commitment to something bigger than themselves.


Robert Baden-Powell
Baden-Powell was the founder of scouting. He instilled the motto “Be Prepared” into the Scouting philosophy. It’s a good one.  He wasn’t thinking just of being ready for emergencies. His idea was that all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead.


Girl Scouts are taught to be prepared for the rejections received in the game of selling, by learning to sell Girl Scout Cookies. Being prepared for objections is the most important aspect of selling success. Some parents believe they are helping their children by bringing their cookies to work and selling them on their behalf. I think those people are missing the point of their child learning how to sell.


No Easy Day
I am in the midst of reading this book, and have already bought copies of it for friends and relatives. Besides the interesting insight to this all important mission, I am impressed by the amount of preparation that was done before launching it. Prior to receiving the go-ahead from The President these guys rehearsed their mission in great detail at a mock bin Laden compound they built at home. They were made to repeat the raid over and over, day after day under the scrutiny of White House observers who needed to know for sure they were going to be able to succeed. They performed these “practice sessions” as though they were the real deal using real helicopters, real guns and everything else that was needed for the mission, all the while not even knowing if they would be able to go. It was all about being prepared.


While there are always some surprises with any Navy Seal mission, minimizing those surprises by being prepared is crucial. In their case it is usually a life or death situation. In selling it’s just a matter of making the sale or not. Perhaps that’s why so many salespeople are not willing to study and prepare with role playing sessions. I am already including what I have learned about preparation from reading this book into my Success Rallies. One might ask, “What does shooting Osama Bin Laden have to do with selling a piece of jewelry or art in a retail location?” The answer is, “Everything!” When you know what objections or excuses you are apt to hear from your customers you can then (in advance) prepare yourself with the best possible responses. Yes, there will still be some surprises, and some excuses you will not be able to get over, but minimizing them is in everyone’s best interest, especially your customer’s.


Wednesday, July 4th, 2012


Do You Expect One?

I asked the above question on my iPhone “Thumb Survey Application” and these were the results.
One area where many retail salespeople shoot themselves in the foot is offering discounts. Doing this not only eats into the company’s profit, but can actually cause you to lose the sale entirely. How could that be?



One of the biggest determining factors when buying is trust. If the price is not real, maybe the product isn’t either. Offering a discount to make a sale can communicate just that. When customers make excuses for not buying, like, “I need to think about it” and the truth is they just don’t like it, a discount won’t make them like it any more. I walked into a furniture store recently and the salesperson came out of the back room and announced, “Have a look around, if you see something you like I can work with you on the price.” What he was really saying is, “None of our prices are real, and if you are a good enough negotiator you might get a deal.”


“Just asking…”

Many customers don’t need a discount to buy, but, if one is available they will take it. A wealthy client of mine went into a reputable jewelry store recently and picked out a bracelet for his girlfriend; $5,000. He asked the salesperson if that was his best price. The salesperson paused, thought for a minute and then said, “Well, we could finance it.” With that he pulled out his  black American Express Card and said, “That’s okay, just put it on here.” He told me that was “the nicest insult he ever had.” It was as if the salesperson said, “Well if you can’t afford it what are you doing in this store?”


“If We can, will you…?”

With all of this being said, there are times a discount can close a sale and many salespeople are armed with this tool. If that’s the case, it should only be used to CLOSE the sale, not to OPEN the sale. If your company gives you a “discount budget” and price becomes an issue, ask the customer, “Is the price your only concern?” If the answer is, “No” you have work to do; offering a discount isn’t the answer. On the other hand, if the answer is, “Yes” you can say, “Okay, I will see what we can do, but if I get the okay, are you ready to get it today?” Now go call or ask someone. Don’t put yourself on the bargaining table. The customer may be a better negotiator than you are.

“Can of Worms”

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012


Empty It!
I conducted a role playing session recently with a major customer. We focused on “clienteling” and the importance of calling back past customers to be sure that all is well. One of the salespeople said, “What if I call them and it opens up a can of worms?” Obviously she was referring to customers with a problem or concerns.


Better Than Before
A broken bone properly repaired becomes stronger than it was before the break.


The same is true with a customer that has a problem you take care of. An executive at this meeting commented that it’s the quiet customers he fears losing. They just get mad and go away without giving you the opportunity to fix the problem. When customers share their problem they give you the opportunity to cement your relationship even stronger than it was before the problem. Not only were you interested in making the sale, but to assure their satisfaction after the sale. And those without a problem are equally glad that you cared enough to follow up. That’s when the door opens up to make additional sales and get referrals.

Earning Customer Loyalty

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011


Where there’s a will…

It was mid-December (2007) when I contacted Budget Rent-a-Car saying that I needed a car on Maui on Christmas Day. “No way,” or something like that was the response. I had to understand, since Christmas Day begins the busiest week of the year here in Hawaii.
One week later I was on a plane to Maui and got into a discussion with the guy next to me. He turned out to be a VP of National Car Rental. I explained my Christmas Day dilemma and he said, “If I can get you a car, can we have your business?” I said, “You can for that trip, for sure. Where we go from there we will have to see; I have been loyal to Budget for more than 25 years.”
He gave me his card saying, “E-mail me your flight information and I will see what I can do.” I did, and when I arrived on Maui on Christmas Day, there was a driver waiting for me with a brand new car.
Well that was four years ago, and I have not been back to Budget since.
It pays to be willing to go the extra mile to get (and or keep) business.

E-Mail Power

Saturday, July 16th, 2011


People Love It
Of course there are exceptions, and some e-mail is better received than others, but generally speaking, “You have mail” are welcome words when opening your e-mail program.


Yesterday’s Inbox
The same was true in times past when all mail came to your physical mail box. The more there was, the better you liked it.


“Thank You.”
When was the last time that you went shopping, came home and opened up your e-mail to find a simple “Thank you” e-mail from one of the stores where you shopped? Such e-mail would likely be well received, especially if it came from someone you did NOT buy from, and does NOT have a “sales pitch” as a part of it. A link to your web site is enough. Everyone likes being appreciated.


I talk with many companies that have Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) in place to gather e-mail addresses and other customer information, but in too many cases it stops there. Or, they go into a data base somewhere with good intent to send e-mail about upcoming sales, promotions or new merchandise. In some cases even that doesn’t happen.


Pick One!
A good way to get e-mail addresses is to have a weekly or monthly drawing of some sort with winners posted on your web site. Be sure that you do not ask for too much information on the drawing ticket; name and e-mail address is all you need. I dropped my business card in a fishbowl at a cafe recently and got a return e-mail telling me who the winner was (not me), but offering me a consolation prize of a free bowl of soup with my next purchase.

Get it Together!
The names in your data base are pure gold. Get creative; e-mail is free, and properly used can be the most effective and inexpensive marketing tool of all.

Assuming the Sale

Sunday, June 5th, 2011


Ask For the Money
Everyone has heard the old adage that when you “assume” you make an ass out of you and me. In most cases that’s true, but there are times in selling when you must assume the sale and ask for the money.
Once you have overcome any objections and are certain your customer wants what you are selling, do not “ASSUME” that he or she will whip out the credit card and say, “I’ll take it.” Simply ask, “Will that be cash or check?” Your customers will not be shocked to hear that they need to pay for it.