XT Retail News – Sellers are born … or made?

Venditori si nasce o si diventa?

by Simona Fiore XT Retail

Dear readers,
In the retail world this is the key question starting from those who search for personnel, passing through the activity of the store manager and up to the most intimate soul of each sales employee, who asks himself if he is really suited for that job and if he can improve his professionalism in some way. Obviously we, as consultants who come from a direct experience in the store, know the answer … and precisely because we know it our customers in recent years are requesting and obtaining satisfaction from our training courses, essential for implementing and improving the service to the customer.

The shopping experience makes the difference in retail!

The shopping experience makes the difference in retail!

And specifically, since the pandemic has revolutionized the world, even that of retail, it has never been so important to give a shopping experience that cannot be the same in other sales channels. 

So the sale becomes a structured and very specific work, based on consolidated techniques, in which each customer must have the perception that an activity is built on him, that keeps him at the center, not in a nagging or imposing way, but as a real and own advice.

You have understood then that, according to us, sellers you become!!
The sales activity must be built through specific phases that we have codified and enclosed in 4 phases. By training the staff following these indications we will have a new figure in the store, more linked to a real consultancy, given not only by the knowledge of the product by the staff, but also by a sales method linked to empathy, listening and problem solving. The phases are as follows: preparation of the sale, greeting and approach, investigation and closing of the sale.

You may wonder how all this can be easy to learn for everyone, but the commitment and application of the various stages of the sale process are a structure that can be easily applied in any product sector and by any seller. However it is undeniable that there are some characteristics that a good seller must have:

Passion for the product you sell. In any product sector, if we do not believe in what we offer we will not be very convincing in the sale. This applies from real estate agents to catering and obviously also in retail.
Interest in people. If you don’t have much interest in trying to meet the needs of others, it is difficult to complete a structured sale.
Open and positive attitude. In all work sectors there is a culture of alibi, that is, constantly justifying the failure to achieve a goal with external factors independent of our will or with any shortcomings of others. This attitude is unproductive and does not allow us to overcome the difficulties that arise in everyday life, because in reality we attribute it to something other than ourselves.  Questioning and admitting limitations or mistakes is a constructive attitude that helps growth, both professional and personal, and above all encourages us to seek a solution rather than simply justify ourselves.

As always, we want to consult experts and professionals working in the sector for further points of view. I then give the floor to Roberto Cucco, retail advisor of the Esercito brand and administrator of a franchising point of sale,  asking him to answer some questions, knowing his great experience in the issues of sales consultancy in retail.

Roberto Cucco retail advisor of the Esercito brand
Roberto Cucco retail advisor of the Esercito brand

What skills should a seller have today?
Today’s store, in a retail world in deep change for several years, must have sellers who are no longer mere “salesmen” but must be real consultants able to understand and satisfy the real requests and needs of the customer. To achieve this result, sellers need to be prepared, informed about products and also about trends and the market, both local (i.e. the location where the store is located, competitors and specificities of the area) and on the market more generally.I also add that customers today are much more informed than they used to be. Internet access and e-commerce have given everyone the opportunity to know and buy products in a way that years ago was absolutely unthinkable. It is necessary to create an environment that makes the customer feel at ease. Greater empathy between staff and customers will improve the service and therefore also the performance of the store which will improve its KPIs.

What kind of sales are required from the staff of your points of sale? So how do you expect the customer to move and make a purchase of your products?
In the Esercito’s stores, a brand that is still quite new at the retail level, we have a part of customers who are absolutely in love with the product and loyal to the brand. Another part of the customers is very intrigued because they do not yet know the Esercito brand. Consequently, the type of sale we carry out is semi-assisted / assisted precisely to give all the information about the products in the store (the  Italian Army is made up of many Corps and consequently there are many articles that represent them).
The assortment is very wide, both for men, women and children, in addition to accessories, which represent a very important part of the business (backpacks, bags, amphibious footwear, belts, caps, etc.) Recently, special products have also been made, such as jackets made from discarded parachutes and jackets derived from blankets no longer used by the Italian Army.

The shopping experience makes the difference in retail!

How is the newly hired staff trained in your stores compared to the product, the company and the sale?
For the new staff we prepare an insertion path that allows them to know the products and the various dynamics related to the Italian Army, as well as training that allows us to have trained salesmen able to be of real support and advice for our customers. Knowledge of the real Army Corps is essential for dealing with very attentive customers and connoisseurs of the product’s background. Furthermore, there is great attention to all the training related to safety, even more important after the recent pandemic period.

We thank Roberto Cucco for his contribution, and let’s go back to analyzing what is happening today in retail. We observers and professionals are very focused and attentive in grasping the various changes, which today are quite unpredictable.

Firstly, young people’s approach to the world of work has changed and is continuing to change. The causes are manifold, but the result is that the turnover of staff in the store is always higher, often because the expectations of those who enter the world of work for the first time are very different from reality, especially the one that is inside the store.

In many cases, work in retail is underestimated, relegating it to a temporary activity to accompany the study or to fill a work phase in search of something better. But there are no more salespeople with arms behind their backs who wait and follow the customer inside the store. Today the salespeople have multiple tasks, ranging from the warehouse to the checkout, and often they don’t even have time to follow the customer or even just notice that he has entered the store.  This is one of the reasons why the staff in the store lately has less professionalism and does not follow a structured sales process … in some cases they do not even greet the customer at the entrance!

The customer has changed too! Many factors have led to this change, and some can be identified with the habit of having more and more self-service shops in the market, the increase in online shopping and not least the “side effects” of the pandemic. All this creates a solitary, autonomous and extremely fast way of buying, which often avoids the support of a sales employee, because perceived like an annoying imposition. So what needs to change in the store? Definitely a different attitude towards the customer, with an approach more linked to giving information and real support for the purchase and a greater interest in the customer’s needs.

These are the reasons why we at XT believe that training in retail, even before hiring, has become a mandatory step for those who want to approach this world. This is because, as we have seen, the seller must become a real consultant who informs the customer and makes the shopping experience the best possible!

by AN shopfitting magazine no.172 ©