The Chairman’s Viewpoint: Breaking Bad

on Tuesday, 01 November 2016. Posted in Blog

The retail sales associate is not a unique breed. They typically settle in to a comfortable selling process that has been cultivated and established over years. Introducing a different approach can be uncomfortable. Therefore, resisting change is the norm with the typical retail sales associate. How can you break “bad”?

Breaking BadMy sister is one of this breed with a successful home furnishings retailer in Florida. To her credit, she’s not the norm, but rather a top producer. So what separates her performance, or that of any top producer, from the norm?

First, it’s connecting with the consumer and establishing a rapport. Rather than just having a friendly exchange with the consumer, it’s about understanding their motivations and hesitations. Most consumers shop a store because they have a need or a want, not because they’re killing time. Understanding the motivations and hesitations related to that need or want, will help derive a sale.

Next, it’s helping influence the consumer’s decision to purchase that need or want. They have choices to make and the retail sales associate can help influence that choice. The outlay of money for the purchase often drives the choice. Consumers understand their finances and typically have a mindset when entering the retail store of what they can afford. However, there are always competing interests for the “share of wallet”.

All too often, the retail sales associate does not really understand where the consumer’s mindset is relative to their finances. They think it is taboo to discuss credit or payment options with the consumer, not to mention it’s uncomfortable! But, how to pay for that need or want gets right to the consumer’s motivations and hesitations. There are subtle ways to introduce financing in to the discussion, starting with advertising (think “monthly payments as low as”) and in-store signage (gentle reminder about paying over time). But willfully and skillfully planting the seed with the consumer up front that your store has payment options allows the shopper to browse with more confidence. This confidence can lead to a sale, and a sale with typically a higher ticket.

Retail sales are flat to up slightly over the last several years. The economy is still challenging. And, businesses up and down your street are fighting for share of the consumer’s wallet. Pouring more dollars in to advertising and marketing may drive additional foot traffic, but if you’re not converting that foot traffic, it’s fruitless. Leveraging successful consumer finance programs, platforms, and processes, like those offered by LendPro, can help you break bad sales habits related to consumer financing.

- David Weyher

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