It happened so quickly. One season we were dog-earring catalog pages, look books, and magazine ads, and preparing for a busy month of appointments and trunk shows. Then in the next season, we were struggling to keep good customers and cultivate new clientele. Why? Because shopping became inconvenient.
Enter the Convenience Culture
Retail as we once knew it was finished. The Convenience Culture quickly taught us that traditional shopping, once an opiate of the masses, was on its deathbed if the retailers and their brands remained predictable and boring. As online retailers emerged, they competed for the chance to sway our purchase.
The Convenience Culture would teach us a lot. Convenience wasn't just an option anymore; it was a way of life.
Convenience would also dictate how the selling professional would communicate with the consumer, and how they represented a brand and sold product. We also learned from convenience, that if the buying process was not simplified and optimized at the POS, the consumer would eventually spend their money elsewhere.
Convenience became king and it changed everything. Well, almost everything. What convenience didn't change is the value of a visit into the store and the one-on-one exchange between the sales professional and the customer. Regardless of what the retailer was selling, the art of the sale remained the same. As the foundation of selling excellence, the art of the sale is a pre-cursor for brand loyalty and always leads toward a purchase, and ultimately, a happy customer. The ability to close a sale through a process:
Establishing an Authentic Connection with Your Brand
Is the art of the sale affected by convenience? If the seller is good, it should never be affected by convenience. Today, store management is tasked to discover talent who is authentic, articulate, driven, multi-cultural, stylish and thoughtful. They must have abilities to cross promote products, services and events with additional foresight to customize the experience for each client.
Where are these exceptional selling professionals? The Convenience Culture gets a bit confused, as does the retailer, about who the best selling professionals are. Social media influencers have become popular with brands looking for different ways to reach their consumers.
Sales specialists have the advantage to build their clientele with a more personalized approach. The shopping experience can be customized more easily and is more immersive through a specialist. Product access is key, but other important touch points such as eye contact, professionalism and a sincere demeanor help to customize the shopping experience for the shopper.
When looking for the right person to represent a brand or product, if a candidate’s social media following is solely considered in the hiring process, the retailer loses. I hate to be a buzzkill to you great merchants out there, but—a big social media following does not make a selling titan and lifestyle expert! And thus, social media influencers do not exactly embrace the art of the sale. Social media following only tells half of the story.
Finding the Perfect Sales Specialist
In the quest for sales excellence, management must recognize that candidates with "personality smarts" — the ability to identify with and engage the personality and perspective of different customers in order to make the sale — may hold the golden key to achieving sales excellence.
The right candidate is the the difference between the clerk and the sales specialist, customer and client, a productive exchange and a waste of time, experience and experiential. It’s the difference between the one item purchase and multiple items purchased. It’s the difference between failure and success. When searching for the perfect sales specialist in the new age of retail, management must consider the candidate’s:
So as the Convenience Culture continues to do most off their shopping online with an occasional trek into the store, the sellers, who are the introduction to the brick and mortar experience, remain a powerful weapon in the arsenal to sustain and grow business. Selling excellence in the new age of retail will not only be fueled by convenience, but by the relevance of the store’s assortments and the authentic and knowledgeable personalities who represent them on the front line: the sales specialist.