1) Greet customers at the door with a smile and a hand shake. To sell today's better-educated and more-demanding customers you must build a relationship with them. People buy from those they trust and trust those who are friendly and personable. A Yale University study shows that a smile is the greatest thing you can do to influence people.
2) Stop asking: ``Can I help you?'' For a country of people who hate rejection, we sure set ourselves up for it. Ninety percent of the time when you ask, ``Can I help you?'' the answer is, ``No. Just looking.''
Never ask a question that can be answered with no. Give customers a choice of answers that further the sales presentation.
3) Blow your own horn. You must take credit for all the extra things you do for your customers—and they don't know about those things unless you tell them.
List all the things you do and tell customers about them in printed flyers and handouts, during your sales presentation and after the sale.
4) Shut up and listen. Customers want to tell you their problems. So give them the chance. Once you know their problems, you can respond with benefits to solve them.
5) Actively ask for the sale by giving your customers a choice of actions. Don't wait for customers to tell you they want to buy, ask them by closing with questions that give them a choice.
6) Look at your store through the eyes of your customer. You're in your store everyday. You don't see the things that need cleaning, straightening and updating.
Look at and listen to your staff. Do they portray the sort of image you want the customers to see? Are sales materials and displays up to date?
7) Make certain inside signs are working for you. Are they providing product information and directing customers to your most profitable items?
8) Look for low-cost places to advertise. With the rising cost of traditional advertising, you need new, lower-cost places to get your message across. Look for locations where people travel and determine the best means of getting your ad seen.
9) Do something different than your competition every day. Look around you. What attracts your attention? The antique car going down the road, the neatly groomed yard among the casually kept ones.
Are they things that are different from what you ordinarily see and hear?
Customers also notice those things. Make your signs bigger and brighter. Follow up each sale with a phone call and thank-you note.
Start sales events at odd times like 12:07 p.m. Stay open until 9:09 p.m. instead of 9:00 p.m.
Mr. Janet is president of Marketing Consulting & Retail Advising in Matthews, N.C.