3 Selling Mistakes in Jeans Retail and How to Avoid Them
Avoid These 3 Mistakes with Basic Retail Sales Training and Get Better at Selling
Have you ever bought a pair of jeans with the help of a knowledgeable and passionate sales associate who got you genuinely excited about what you were buying? The kind of shopping experience that took away all your doubts and concerns, and made you want to buy your jeans from that store and person only.
You’ve probably experienced the opposite too: Visiting a store for guidance, but quickly realising that the person behind the counter couldn’t even tell you how the jeans would fit or what size you should get; let alone how they were made or why they were different from any other jean in the store.
If you work in retail, you can do better than that!
Part of the problem is that sales staff often don’t know much about the jeans they’re selling. A solution to that is the Denimhunters Academy, the online retail sales training platform that teaches you essential production knowledge about denim and jeans that is easy to apply when you’re selling.
But it’s not only product knowledge you need to train. Many are also missing basic retail sales training about why your customers shop or how to read and interact with them.
This free guide lists three of the most common selling mistakes in retail that might kill the sale plus how you avoid them.
Mistake #1: Treating Every Customer the Same Way
When you know your customer, you can tailor your guidance and make it personal. You know what your customers like and what they usually buy. And that makes the shopping experience much more enjoyable and memorable, which leads loyal customers who come back again and again!
In a perfect world, you know all your customers personally. But while online niche communities do make it easier, it’s practically impossible in our globalised world.
How to Avoid Mistake #1: Use Customer Types
The next best thing is to know the different types of customers and the best way to sell to them. Here are five of the most common types you’ll meet when you’re selling jeans, and how you approach them.
Customer Type #1: The Wanderer
You’ve surely had customers who’re “just looking around” or “just browsing.”
It’s a common reaction (and I’ll address how you avoid it below). The best approach is to make your customer feel welcome, and then just let him browse around.
Tell him your name (if it feels natural) and let him know that you’re happy to help if he has any questions. Then, once he does ask a question, don’t come on too strong with your selling and storytelling.
Customer Type #2: The Customer On A Mission
The customer on a mission is one who knows exactly what he wants. He might be in a hurry or he just doesn’t like to shop.
The best approach here is to simply not get in his way. Help him find what he needs, and if he has questions, give him straight-up answers and (generally) don’t try to upsell to him.
Customer Type #3: The Product Specialist
If you work in a specialised jeans store, many of your customers will likely be product specialists.
Forums and blogs (such as the one you’re reading right now) make it much easier for your customers to learn about the products they’re buying. By the time they visit your store, they’ve probably already read the product descriptions on several online stores, as well as any product reviews there might be.
Ideally, you need to connect with the product specialist while he’s still in the research phase. That means you need online product resources that he can engage with before he visits your store.
An active and vibrant presence on social media is also important. And it needs to have a personal touch! Instagram is arguably the best way to do that.
You’ll recognise the product specialist by his critical and detailed questions about how the garment is made. This means you need to know at least as much as he does.
The best way to approach him is to first acknowledge his expertise, then listen actively, and engage in a conversation. He loves to get down to the details!
Just make sure not to make it a contest about who knows more. And while an enthusiastic discussion with a product specialist is a powerful way to display your skills to other shoppers who’re observing you in action, make sure that it doesn’t hinder you from taking care of them as well.
Customer Type #4: The Bargain-Hunter
You usually meet the bargain-hunter in the sale season. Here, price is the primary focus.
The store will likely be busy, so you might not have much time for each customer, and the mood might be hectic.
When you do talk to bargain-hunters, focus on the value. He should feel he’s getting a good deal.
Customer Type #5: The Showroomer
Showrooming is the act of trying out a product in-store and then buying it online. And it’s a thorn in the eye of many retailers.
However, showroomers are not always easy to recognise. Often, they’ll mine you for information and try on different sizes only to get up, which makes them look like product specialists, but they’ll get up and leave without ever considering buying from you.
One way to prevent showrooming is to match your prices with those of your online competitors.
When you think you’re engaging with a showroomer, focus on the value that you’re offering such as hemming service, loyalty programmes, or simply the fact that the customer can take home the jeans immediately.
Now, it’s important to note that we can all be each of the different customer types in different situations. It’s not that you’re only the showroomer, the product specialist or any of the other types; it varies depending on the situation.
You can learn more about the different customer types and how to sell to them here.
Mistake #2: Focusing Solely On Features
All too often when you read product descriptions or overhear an in-store sales pitch, the focus is solely on the product’s functional features. That’s the second mistake.
Ask yourself, why should your customers buy the jeans? It is because the fabric is stretchy? Or because it’s not?! Or because they’re made in one country over another?
The features are only half of the story; it’s (often) the intangible benefits of the features and what they communicate that are truly important. It’s about what the features make your customers feel.
How to Avoid Mistake #2: Make the Benefit Explicit
One way to take your selling beyond feature-focused is simply to always tell your customers what it means that the denim has 80% stretchability; that it’s woven on antique looms; or that the jeans are washed in Italy.
It’s as simple as answering the question, “so what?!” How does this feature make a difference?
In the case of 80% stretchability, you probably want to talk about comfort. If the denim’s woven on old-fashioned shuttle looms, you can talk about time-honoured production methods and great fades. And if the wash is Italian, you can talk about attention to detail, innovation or high-quality reproduction of natural wear and tear.
These are just examples. It’s your job to know the benefits of the specific products you’re selling. If you don’t know, ask the buyer for your store, the brand sales rep or whoever you’re in contact with from the brand.
… or Tell a Story
You can also take it one step further by tapping into pop culture to forge a link between the product and a feeling or certain values.
Our clothes express personality, values, and even mood. They tell others how we see ourselves and how we want them to see us because the values associated our clothes are projected onto us.
And some jeans are closely linked with certain eras.
Take bell-bottom jeans for instance. Whether you want to or not, these days, massive flares usually makes others think ‘peace, love and harmony.’
Or what about the iconic five-pocket-jeans-and-white-t-shirt outfit. While many probably don’t recognise the original references to 1950s teenage movies, it’s still associated with rebelliousness.
And if you wear ripped and stonewashed 501s with a checked flannel shirt, you inadvertently tap into the values of the 90s grunge movement — even if it’s unintentional.
Mistake #3: Not Getting Your Customer To Talk
With the exception of the product specialist, most of your customer will probably not be all that talkative.
Maybe they feel a little intimidated or shy, or maybe they just like to be left alone.
That’s okay, but you have to remember that they’re in your store, which makes them prospects to become customers. And it’s your job to convert them!
And unless someone (for instance a parent or a significant other) is putting a gun to their head to be there, they will have some interest in buying something.
In my experience, the best approach to turn an ice cold “I’m just browsing” into a sale is to get the customer to talk.
How to Avoid Mistake #3: Bypass the “No” with Open-Ended Questions
To get your customer talking, I’ve found that you need to avoid the “no.” You don’t want that to be the first word he says!
That means you should never ever ask questions that can be answered with a “no.” A default is the greeting “can I help you with anything?” It’s a surefire way to turn your customer into a wanderer because 9 out of 10 times he’s going to reply “no, I’m just looking.”
But by changing your opening to something that cannot really be answered with a “no,” you start off on a much more positive note.
When sensing that a customer doesn’t want to talk, I’ve had great success with the line “just let me know if you need any help.” The customer will usually reply with a “thanks” or an “okay,” and that’s a much better start than a “no.”
Once you get past the opening greeting, the best way to get your customer to talk is to ask open-ended questions (meaning questions that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”). An example could be “what’s your favourite style of jeans?”
When you get your customer to talk, you’ll get valuable cues that you can use in your sales pitch It’ll give you an idea of how much he already knows about the product, as well as what type of customer he is. And that tells you how to proceed with your pitch and how detailed your storytelling should be.
The 3 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
To sum up this guide, some selling mistakes in retail might kill the sale. But you can avoid them with a bit of basic retail sales training!
The first mistake is to treat every customer the same. Ideally, you should try to get to know your customer personally. But since it’s impossible to know every single one of your customers, you can use customer types.
The second mistake is to focus solely on the features of the jeans you’re selling. You need to get the benefits into play as well. Features are practically worthless if you don’t make it clear what benefits they bring about.
And the third mistake is not getting your customer to talk. You can avoid this by making sure he never says “no” by only asking open-ended questions.
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