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Unlocking the Sales Riddle

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How your sales staff relates to customers is vital to your store’s success. Engagement starts the moment a customer walks through the door and it influences the rest of the shopping experience.

Arming sales staff with key information regarding customers can augment the shopping experience and increase sales.

Salesforce.com is a global web-based software and cloud computing company best known for its customer relationship management (CRM) software. They specialize in “software-as-a-service” (SaaS) to help users handle all of their business needs such as managing marketing campaigns, analyzing performance and tracking spending and sales.

Recently, Salesforce developed Salesforce1 for Retail, designed to help build relationships between the customer and the store. With fierce retail competition on Main Street and online, capturing the patterns and thoughts of shoppers are important factors in the sales process.

Salesforce1’s “Mobile Clienteling” seeks to give staff a holistic view of their customers by instantly accessing a customer’s browsing history and past purchases right from an iPad so sales associates can make recommendations that match their style and budget at point of purchase. For instance, a salesperson can recommend the perfect purse to complement recently purchased shoes.

Viewing a shopper’s social profile through this medium can enable the sales person to make product recommendations and offer discounts based on what customers are “liking,” “tweeting,” and “pinning.” Information about the purchase of camping equipment by a shopper from a month ago might spur a salesperson to recommend other outdoor equipment.

Virtual profiles can also be created to track customers’ birthdays and anniversaries. A jeweler might receive a reminder when a client has an upcoming anniversary, so he can recommend a necklace or perfect pair of earrings.

Getting the latest inventory levels and product data right on a mobile device can facilitate a sale. A furniture retail employee can inform a customer about availability of a lamp or end table right then and there, rather than having to step away to check a terminal.

This is one way to compete with the instantaneous nature of ecommerce. Collecting this data through this type of technology allows merchants to better analyze their business and more accurately respond to their strengths and weaknesses.

Using technology like this is very useful for the independent retailer. And its accessibility is a route to a smaller retailer’s success. Stores that can manage their customer loyalty, inventory, and online and offline marketing are going to be true competitors in the retail landscape.

Let’s not forget the original premise of the mom-and-pop “indie” retailer. Bill McNulty, publisher of “Independent Retailer Magazine,” says, “Customers appreciate the opportunity to touch and experience products before making purchases. While consumers love to buy online, this experience is not all they love to do. Convenience comes with a price, and many customers value the improved customer service and product knowledge that independent stores can offer.”

Even with the availability and influx of such useful mobile technology, the sales associate still prevails as the source of information, making a customer’s shopping experience more personal and enjoyable. Screening and qualifying new employees is of critical importance to a retailer.

Yet, it seems little or no thought goes into “attitude” during the hiring process. Since sales people are the front-line representative of your store, it makes sense to use front-line representatives in the hiring process, namely retail recruiting firms, who are armed with the best resources for determining the perfect match for your store.

In the final analysis, it’s all about how a sales associate interacts with a customer. The success of that interaction will determine if that customer will buy and recommend the store to her friends and family, or turn around and leave, never to return.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, customer service,
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