Missed Opportunities That Cost You Money

I recently returned from a countrywide swing visiting luxury retailers and observing sales associates, noting what I consider missed opportunities. Here are the 10 most common and how to address them.

Beginning with the wrong goal in mind. Clients know when a sales associate genuinely cares and wants to solve their problem as opposed to trying to make a quick sale. The best way to communicate authentic caring is to really care. Set caring and problem solving as your No. 1 goal each day.

Eliciting the wrong response to your greeting.Note how often a greeting elicits “no thank you” or “just looking.” These reduce a sales associate’s credibility as someone who can help and can make clients think they shouldn’t enter the store without knowing exactly what they want. Use open-ended questions and allow customers to browse if they want.

Poor questioning. You become a favorite salesperson by finding something that fulfills a client’s need or dream that they wouldn’t have found themselves. To learn about needs and dreams you must ask questions. Even when someone knows what she wants, one or two quick questions can help identify the right item plus possible add-ons. But ask the fewest questions possible to get the needed information.

Failure to make a per-suasive recommendation. Don’t show merchandise; prove a selection is right by linking it to a stated need or dream. Here’s an example: “Because you said the topaz is your favorite, and you love pins, I’ve selected these.” Don’t waste time saying you love the item. Focus on the client.

Showing mistrust in your prices. Many purchasers of luxury jewelry are more concerned about overpaying than whether they can afford the purchase. If you offer an accommodation too quickly, the client will think you mistrust your prices. Make accommodations seem difficult to obtain and provide a convincing reason why you’re offering one.

Failure to embrace objections. Objections are a gift. They indicate interest and provide an opportunity to ask questions and discover more about likes and dislikes. Don’t respond negatively to an objection or send a subtle sign of disappointment. Check in repeatedly with clients to learn what they’re thinking, and ask questions to discover what’s behind objections.

Waiting for clients to close themselves.Many people need a slight nudge to make a buying decision. Don’t passively wait to take an order. Order takers are found in restaurants, not among elite sales associates selling luxury goods.

Assuming the client doesn’t want to make a second purchase. Don’t assume your relationship with a client will be harmed if you suggest a complementary purchase. Try a simple statement like this: “Those really look great on you. Here’s a matching necklace.” Let the client tell you when he or she has seen enough.

Failure to agree on how you will later contact the client. Strive to establish long-term relationships that allow you to provide ongoing service and advice. Once a client has made a purchase or expressed an interest, ask how you can make future contact. Establish the reason for contact (e.g., to introduce a new line) and how you’ll reach him or her (e.g., by phone, e-mail, etc.) before the client leaves the store.

Taking “no” personally. No matter how good you are, eventually you’ll lose a sale. Don’t take it personally. Selling is hard enough without sending yourself into an emotional slide that creates low energy and a negative demeanor. If you can’t recover quickly, you may be in the wrong business.

One missed opportunity often leads to another. A greeting that elicits “no thank you” makes it difficult to establish rapport and ask questions. Not asking questions leads to an unconvincing presentation and difficulty asking for the order. Not asking for the purchase reduces the closing ratio, which creates fewer opportunities for add-on recommendations. Avoid missed opportunities and watch your sales grow exponentially.

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