A RECENT survey by performance improvement company Grass Roots revealed that ineffective sales performance results in businesses easily losing $350,000 per store annually, as shoppers take their business elsewhere.

The survey was conducted earlier this year, when 1,400 mystery shoppers visited consumer electronics and IT hardware and software retail outlets. Each mystery shopper would enquire about an assigned product and assess the salesman’s response, experience, product knowledge and attempt to close the sale.

The survey was initiated to gain a better understanding of the sales effectiveness within this industry.

Here are some key recommendations to help you close the sale:

1. First impressions count

Frequently, a customer subconsciously decides to buy from a particular retail outlet within the first few minutes of entering the store. To create a good first impression, you should look to improve factors such as store cleanliness, store lighting, the speed at which customers are greeted and the brand models or signage on display. It will also help a great deal if you are well-groomed.

2. Establish a need for the product

When a potential customer enters your store, after greeting them the first thing you must do is understand their needs. Your questions should assess what they are looking for, their intended use for the product, their budget and if they are open to purchasing today should they find what they are looking for.

Having a good listening ear is crucial but, more importantly, you need to be able to ask the right questions. For example, if someone wants to purchase a printer, the salesman should find out whether this is for office use, where it will be printing hundreds of sheets daily, or whether this is for a family to regularly print out their weekend photos.

3. Meeting the needs of the customer

Once you have established the need for the product, you will be in a better position to meet or even exceed the needs of that customer.

Salesmen are expected to have excellent product knowledge, including the pros and cons of competing products that may not be available within their own retail outlet. So do read up on the latest technology developments in the industry.

At the same time, you should be careful not to overload the customer with information. It is always a good practice to verify that the customer has all the information he or she needs, so that they can make the right decision.

Having said this, most customers appreciate it when the salesman is able to make a brand recommendation, especially if it is based on his own experience.

For example, a comment like this would help to seal the deal: “Of all the camera brands I have shown you, I would recommend brand X, I personally own one, and find it fantastic.”

4. Attitude of the salesman

A major contributor to your success in making that sale boils down to your overall attitude and body language. You need to be friendly, informative and, most of all, genuine.

No one feels good being badgered into buying something that they did not really want or need. And even if you succeeded in making this sale, the chances are high that the customer will either come back to return the product, or worse still, they will never return to buy another product again.

It is recommended that the sales staff proactively try to close the sale by making a comment such as, “Is there anything further you would like to look at, or are you ready to proceed?”

The survey revealed that salesmen in Singapore did not attempt to close the sale as much as salesmen within the region. This could be due to their preference to push a product’s features and benefits, and allowing the customer to make the decision. However, it does mean that the likelihood of business leakage is high.

Another good tactic for salesmen is to up-sell, by recommending a complementary product. Not only does this boost business, but it also shows that you understand the customers’ needs. For example, when a customer has chosen a laptop, ask him whether he would like a USB stick or a mouse?

Through making minor changes in these four areas, you can help to boost sales effectiveness and the company’s bottom line. This can lead to you being viewed as a top performer, thus creating career development opportunities within the company you are working for and beyond.