It’s not too often I get a chance to step out from my “behind the scenes” role in supporting retailers to actually sell on a retail sales floor, but I did just that a few weekends ago. I had the pleasure of working at a new shop that a good friend of mine recently opened in beautiful downtown Ridgeway. Ridgeway is a quaint town in the Southern Niagara Region that offers a main drag filled with unique, independently owned shops and restaurants. Once a year, this small town attracts about 20,000 visitors during its somewhat famous Ridgeway Festival. So, naturally, I was enlisted as back-up-help for what is always expected to be one of the busiest weekends of the entire year for the local retailers.
Now, for any independents out there who have experienced your own local festival, you’d be the first to vouch for me when I say, these festivals aren’t usually lucrative for the retailers. They attract a lot of traffic and fanfare, but it’s typically what I like to call, the “ice cream crowd”. No one is spending any money to really speak of, but they are definitely racking up the footsteps on traffic counters and messing up conversion rates for sure! And, that is exactly what was happening in Ridgeway the weekend I volunteered to work the sales floor.
You have to understand, I was super excited to get out on the floor and really make a difference for my friend, but I haven’t sold in a traditional retail setting since 1999! The pressure was on and the crowd was mostly ice cream lickers as I explained, so the odds were stacked against me. There I was, the ‘retail sales expert’, with all eyes on me! How was I going to close all of these browsers who were just using the store as a cooling station and wandering through the shop like they were touring a museum?
Just when I started to regret volunteering, I gave my head a shake and realized, I know this stuff! We teach it and preach it every day at Graff. I told myself, just think about each episode from our Get Selling online training and DO IT! I know it inside and out for goodness sake! And then I did it…I established rapport like a pro, I rattled off the Golden Questions with ease, I got the product in their hands, I talked up the ‘go-with’ items, and I asked for the sale as I know I should. Just like magic, I turned the ice cream crowd into qualified customers one-by-one!
Except it’s not magic; rather, it’s a skill set that can be taught and mastered by any retailer and sales staff. So, the moral of the story is, if you know how to sell, you can convert traffic of any kind. If you and your team don’t really know how to sell, you can keep on talking about the weather and how good that ice cream cone looks as you watch real customers walk away empty-handed. How much money have you left on the table this summer?