Fall 2022 Hardlines Strategies

“Use those first 30 seconds of the conversation to create an aura of partnership with the customer.” —Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender

When you ask customers how you can help them, here are a few different responses you might receive. Here’s what you could do next. How should you respond?

“There needs to be a level of comfort with selling related items, and it can sometimes be hard for people to want to talk about it.” Kizer and Bender recommend making add-on selling practice a regular part of employee meetings by doing an activity called “Give Me 5.” To do it, take a handful of items from anywhere in the store, hold them up in a meeting and ask employees to call out five additional items they could sell with each product. It’s a simple yet effective exercise to get employees thinking about what they should be suggesting with each sale. Cement the Relationship After you’ve answered all your customer’s questions and suggested relevant add-on items, it’s time to close the sale and help them make the purchase. There are many different ways to close a sale, such as asking, “Would you like me to help you carry this to the cash register?” or “Is there anything else you need today?” or “Would you like to take advantage of the special pricing we have on that item?” However, the most important way you can close a sale is to find a way to follow up. Let customers know you’re interested in their project beyond the point where they make a purchase and head out the door. “Before a customer leaves, ask them to come back and tell you how their project turned out,” Bender says. “The paint department is a great example. Before the customer leaves, say something like, ‘Would you do me a favor? When you’re finished painting, would you take a picture and bring it in to show me? I would love to see how it turned out.’ When a customer comes back and shows you that picture, you know you’ve turned an ordinary shopper into a loyal customer.”

single customer needs to be acknowledged by any employee who gets within 7 feet.” Demonstrate the Product If you’ve established rapport with a customer and become their partner in helping them get what they need, then they’re likely to be receptive to your help when they have questions about the product they’re buying. Employees acquire product knowledge in a variety of ways, including hands-on training and vendor workshops. Also remember to have employees read product labeling. Most customers are going to be reading the packaging, so if employees don’t at least know what the manufacturer says about a product, then customers might wonder if they know anything at all. “Everyone should be reading product labels,” Kizer says. “You don’t necessarily have to know everything about the product, but it’s important to at least know the three or four features or benefits that make that product unique.” If they are buying a high-ticket item, make sure customers understand why that product is the best choice for their project, especially if there is a choice between several price points of the same item. “Get customers to the point where they understand and agree with what you are telling them about the product,” Kizer says. Add to the Sale As you train employees on selling skills, remind them that suggesting additional items is not pushing customers to purchase something they don’t need. Rather it’s helping them avoid an extra trip to get something they forgot. Add-on selling skills require a solid grasp of product knowledge and take practice. “Add-on selling needs to be a natural part of the conversation,” Bender says.

“I know what I need.”

Show them where to find the products they’re looking for and recommend add-on items.

“I’m just looking.”

Let them know you’re available if they need help. Attempt to ask general questions about what they need so you can get them pointed in the right direction.

“I’m not really sure what I need.”

Ask follow-up questions to learn more about their project and be ready to make product recommendations that best suit their needs.

Note: Portions of this article were originally published by the North American Hardware and Paint Association. The article has been edited for style and fit and has been reprinted with permission.

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