Narrow the Gap Between Your Customers and Sales Professionals

The gap between how luxury retail customers want to be treated and how they are actually treated by sales professionals is growing larger. Many customers are distancing themselves from sales professionals.
How often do you notice a customer entering a retail store and before anyone actually approaches this person to offer assistance – the customer says “just looking” and shows the palm of their hand. Perhaps that’s been you on an occasion.

As much as this appears to be a problem, it’s actually a symptom of a bigger issue. Specifically, the luxury customer is feeling pressured and they are responding in ways that are sending strong messages. Some retailers aren’t even seeing this as a problem.

It’s become so pervasive in some markets that customers shop dressed down in yoga/work-out clothes. They proceed to announce that they only have a few minutes to shop, sending the clear message “I am not ready to purchase right now.”

How big is this problem?

This is so all-encompassing that The New York Times recently interviewed me for an article on the topic (January 11, 2012).

This distancing [between customers and sales professionals] is so serious today that some customers walk into stores and hold their hand up and say, “Just looking….” “The key,” Mr. Shanker, said, “is to get salespeople comfortable with silence after their initial approach, which runs counter to the traditional model of following a customer around and offering information about a product the minute the customer looks at or touches it.”

Here’s the good news! Brands that work to improve the luxury customer experience and reduce the distancing of the customer from their sales professionals can develop a strong competitive edge in the marketplace.

The alternative is for customers to shop mono brands for ideas and then purchase on the Internet or with the competition.

A few ideas that will begin to correct this problem:

  • Identify and eliminate the damaging behavior that sales professionals unknowingly use when interacting with customers. Many of these negative behaviors are subtle and overlooked. These become the silent derailers of the sale.
  • Replace negative behaviors with selling skills that both improve closing ratios and enhance the company’s reputation for luxury service year-after-year.This will improve the luxury customer experience, protect your brand, and increase sales and margins.
  • Provide managers with the leadership skills they need to inspire employees to want to do what’s asked of them and become self-accountable for achieving their sales goals.

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