Sales Secrets of Smart Retail Companies
Retail operations have traditionally worked like this: Store managers trend their sales history to determine a sales plan and send their buyers out to purchase inventory to support the plan. Once the inventory has landed, it’s up to the sales staff to sell it through before new inventory arrives.
The problem with this is that the sales staff usually doesn’t know how much they can realistically sell, and if they don’t sell through it all, they look bad. In this case, the store has a plan to buy, but not a plan to sell.
So, we have been advising our clients to turn this model on its head. Retailers need to focus on how to sell rather than how to buy. This means that your marketing plan drives your sales plans. Marketing is not just advertising/promotion but, more importantly, sales planning.
You use marketing to create demand, because if you know how much demand you can generate, it is easier to figure out how much you can realistically sell. Remember, demand is always there, it just needs to be triggered.
Of course, this all depends on having a highly trained sales staff that knows just what to say and do when an interested customer walks into the door.
And, the sales staff has to be educated enough to know which marketing messages will resonate with their customers, and attract new ones. At Blacks, we call this knowing the right “Words and Music”.
This is a new method for many retailers, but it is an effective one, and we would even say that it is essential.
In this day and age, the number of middle-class consumers is actually declining, so for our retailers to compete, they need to get a bigger piece of the pie. To do this, we suggest merchants:
1) Talk to their staffs upfront about their marketing plans, and how many customers they need to reach. They even need to dig deeper and figure out what their sales should be per transaction to meet their goals.
2) Measure performance. Once merchants have their sales goals figured out, they have to assign specific goals to each person on staff, and have each staff member report back on how they plan to meet their performance goals.
3) You have to make and absolutely commit to your marketing plans. Gone are the days when marketing was an aside if you had extra cash; now it should be a fixed cost for doing business.
4) Educate your staff. A smarter staff is the only way you will get ahead, so you need to invest in their long-term evolution. At Blacks we call this a Smart Company.
These are the methods that we know work for successful 21st-century merchants. If you feel you need help, please feel free to contact us and learn more about our professional sales training program, TrainedToSell.