Four out of every five retail salespeople hired this year will fail. Some will make it a whole year before dropping out, but most will quit within the first three or four months. Here are the top 10 reasons they'll fail:
1. Selling feels like begging:
They fail to see the value in what they do. They picture themselves as "begging" for business, rather than helping their customers achieve their goals and live better lives.
2. They talk too much:
They hold to the stereotypical image of the salesperson as a fast-talking manipulator, instead of questioning prospects to determine needs and then listening to the answers. They don't understand that if they'll shut up long enough, their prospects will tell them how they want to be sold.
3. They sell what they want to sell, instead of what the prospect wants to buy.
Again, it all comes down to not listening to the prospect. People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy.
4. They answer unasked questions.
They plant objections in ~ their prospects' minds, by saying stupid things like: "Now, the price is higher than some others, but that's because..." Then they begin a lengthy speech that gets the customer thinking about reasons not to buy.
5. They don't qualify for budget.
New salespeople are hesitant to ~ ask money-related questions. As a result, they try selling high-priced items to people who can't afford them, and they sell low-priced products to prospects who can afford-and would be better served by-a top-of-the-line model. Never assume anything. Ask, "How much have you budgeted for this?" You don't have to accept their answer as chiseled in stone-there's always room to move-but at least you know where to begin.
6. They don't know when to quit.
Persistence is a good quality for a salesperson to have, but you have to know when to cut your losses. Some newbies spend so much time following up on dead-end leads that they miss out on genuine opportunities.
7. They fail to get a commitment early in the sales process.
They give lengthy demos to "tire-kickers," when a couple of qualifying questions early on would have saved them time better spent presenting to more serious prospects. They don't have the nerve to come out and ask: "If we can find the right product to meet your needs, are you prepared to buy today?"
8. They spend too much time making friends with prospects.
Establishing rapport is important. Spend a couple of minutes making small talk, and then GET ON WITH IT! You aren't there to make friends, you're there to make sales. And while the two are by no means mutually exclusive, your focus needs to be on your commission check.
9. They're afraid to hear "No."
A newbie would much rather _~ hear: "I'll think about it," than "No." They don't seem to understand that they both mean the same thing. If the answer is "No," it's better to hear it now, and move on to the next prospect, than to waste time following up with a prospect who's never going to buy. Face the facts. You need to hear a lot of "no's" if you're going to be successful in sales. Sales is a numbers game; every time you hear a "no," you're one step closer to a "yes."
10. They don't have a system.
It's hit-or-miss with them. Rather than taking a systematic approach to sales, beginning salespeople "wing it." As a result, they have no control over the sales process. Sometimes they sell, and sometimes they don't-and they don't have a clue as to why.
-Reprinted from Creative Selling, A monthly newsletter on creative sales strategies adapted form an article by Edwin Richard Rigsbee, The Art of Partnering, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, IA 1994. Home Furnishings retailers can get a free sample copy of "Creative Selling" by faxing an inquiry to 800-724-3881 (reference Furniture World Magazine offer).
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