The Art of Selling

The key to successfully retailing fresh organic food is understanding the art of salesmanship. One of the biggest myths of retailing is that the best way to increase your sales is to get more people to visit your store. While no one would argue that more customers will most likely equal greater sales, it takes an enormous amount of resources and money to successfully pull off a new wave of customers. Conventional wisdom shows us that a much easier, and often much more effective path to increasing sales is to get your existing customers to buy more. It makes sense; they are already in your store, pushing around a shopping cart and looking to buy food. The difference in how much they spend is directly related to the quality of the salesmanship. I have a good friend, Dan Mann, who founded The Mann Group (TMG), an organization that specializes in assisting retailers in the art of selling. I have borrowed four of Dan’s key selling principles for you to keep in mind as you and your team are working the retail floor:


1) Greet Your Customers: The most important aspect in any type of sales environment is to connect with your customers. It’s important that they feel welcome and comfortable in your department. It sounds simple – and it can be – but you would be amazed at how often the first words to a customer are “may I help you?” In response to that simple question, the first words coming from the customer are often “no thanks.” Providing the customer with an opportunity to say “NO” is the cardinal sin of greeting. You place yourself at a huge disadvantage to further meet this customer’s needs. The key to getting involved with customers is to create a comfortable environment for them from the very first interaction: begin with something as simple as “hello”, “welcome”, “good morning”, or “how are you today?” The goal is to connect.


2) Assess the Customers Needs: Once you have successfully greeted your customers it’s time to assess what they are shopping for. In this phase of the selling process you are looking to connect your product with the customer. To be effective on the sales floor it’s critical that you’re able to make the transition from greeting the customer to helping them with their decision-making process. The tools most needed during this phase are listening, watching, and responding accordingly. The goal here is simple – you help the customer figure out exactly what they want. Notice where the customer has landed, and what item(s) they’re looking at.


3) Involve the Customer with Your Product:
 Once you have determined what the shopper is looking for it is time to connect them with the product. You want the customer to interact with your merchandise! You want to present your product in the most appealing way possible. With produce the best way to do this is through sampling. For example, you may notice someone looking through your navel orange display. You approach them and offer them a sample of the fruit. You may also suggest that perhaps they would like to try a red navel orange – something they have never had before. If all goes well your customer leaves with a bag full of both oranges.


4) Create Lifetime Customers: 
The final phase of the selling process is critical – you connect the customer with your store – you change the dynamic of the relationship from customer to client, establishing a relationship that goes beyond today’s sale. This part of the process is particularly important with first-time shoppers. The moment a customer engages in the buying process with your products you begin a relationship with them. Ask them to let you know how their kids liked the red navel oranges the next time that they are in the store (implying that you are confident that they will be a return customer). Make sure and recall their name and use it when saying goodbye.


Throughout the course of the year you will most likely see some new faces shopping in your produce department. Will they turn out to be shoppers who are just looking for a few items, or will they become long-term clients? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your sales strategy and make sure that you are maximizing your relationship opportunities with your customers!