“When you get the customer in, you’ve got to slow them down.” This is a very common saying that is meant to allow the salesperson control of a customer in the store. People feel by slowing a shopper down, they are able to make them go through the organization’s road to a sale. That is bad advice. I do not remember a single time I’ve walked into a store and said “I really hope I could speak to someone who would make my path to purchase longer.”
Online shopping has given customers ADHD when it comes to the actual transaction. By all means, they research more than ever before, but once their mind is made up, they only seek someone to validate their research, present the product, answer questions, and complete the paperwork. Only four steps necessary to take the customer from greeting to sale.
The problem lies in the fact that sales professionals think those four steps are best to be completed by them and them alone. So they treat the process as a sprint. “How quickly can I rush the customer through this and bypass as many obstacles or objections as possible?” they challenge themselves. When you make the four steps to a sale a sprint, it does not work to your advantage. Haste makes waste. Corners get cut, relationships aren’t given time to blossom, and value isn’t built. Other times, customers feel hurried and feel that something is amiss because of the speed of the transaction. They feel their time is being valued, but not their opinion. No one likes being rushed to spend money.
On the other side of the coin, some salespeople take the antiquated statement of “slowing them down” to heart, and drag out the process, spending countless hours dotting every “I” and crossing every “t”. Consumers get bored, are given far too much time to rethink their decision, or feel as if these long delays show their time is not a priority. The salesperson again tries to address all four process tasks by themselves, adding in even more time-consuming steps. This causes delays to the sale, wasting far too much of the customer (and salesperson’s time) to complete just one transaction.
Instead, a sale should be a relay race. I’ll still use the word race, because a level of urgency and purpose in the process is important. There is still, indeed, a finish line that you are working toward. But the beauty of a relay race is that it is a team effort. The baton can be handed from one person to the next. Multiple people in different positions participate in the interaction with the customer. Specialists in different aspects to the steps become involved allowing others to focus on the administrative work necessary to move the transaction forward (without the customer waiting on them to be present throughout the more mundane tasks).
Sales management needs to be actively involved early and often in the in-store customer’s experience. Nothing requires finance management to be an end-of-the-line individual, with only customer contact at the tail end of their visit. From accessories specialists, delivery coordinators, and more, selling should be a team-related activity, like a seamless race where the customer’s time is valued, all steps are completed thoroughly, questions are answered immediately, and all elements to the transaction that are not customer focused can be done simultaneously. You don’t need to dizzy them with multiple, customer-facing interactions by different personnel, as some players can be completing tasks behind the scene that speed up the process without costing a customer time.
Find the star sales athletes on your team and work to perfect the best relay race process for your store. You’ll be surprised how fast and effective your sales can become when working as a team.