Retailing 129: Close the Deal!
You may think tracking close rates is old school, but they are effective at boosting your sales.
Small to medium retailers, including specialty tennis retailers, seem to have forgotten about the importance of closing a sale. For many, the process of closing and tracking close rates has become a lost art that is costing sales and revenue!
In a market where every sale counts, we see smaller retailers forgetting to trial close or actually close sales, allowing prospects to walk out without buying. Yes, shoppers have gotten smarter and understand they are in charge, and you can’t sell them something they don’t want. But they still expect you to do your job as a retailer and ask for the sale! If you don’t, they’ll leave and possibly end up buying from another retailer who did ask for their business.
There are basics involved in providing a satisfying retail shopping experience, including greeting a shopper within minutes of him or her entering your store — with a smile and a welcoming “hello,” followed by, “How can we be of service?” Then, either direct the shopper to the tennis products they are interested in, or ask questions to determine their wants and needs.
Remember, good sales techniques and accordingly good close techniques always focus on the buyer. Asking politely, in the flow of your presentation, is not only all right, it is expected. Not asking doesn’t help anyone.
Ask For The Sale
At the point where you have qualified, demonstrated and narrowed the possible product selection, you need to ask for the sale. Start with a trial or soft close by asking something like, “… what do you think?” Depending on the response, you can continue with the sales process or move to close the primary sale.
If the shopper wants to hear more, continue until you feel it is time for either another trial close or a direct close: “Would you like to go ahead and purchase this?” or “What do you think, is this the one you want?”
In the case of racquets, you have the demo program your store offers as an interim step that can bridge between your initial product presentation and your close. But remember, you’ll still need to ask for the sale at the end of the demo period.
This leads to add-on sales, and making sure after you close the primary sale you suggest accessories and any specials you are running that you feel might be of interest. Remember, it is always easier to sell an add-on after you have closed an initial sale.
Tracking Your Close Rate
In turn, this leads to tracking close rates — or making sure you know how many shoppers who came in your store actually purchased something.
There are technically sophisticated methods for tracking close rates, but we suggest you start with the simple “poker-chip” method. Start with two colors of poker chips, say red and white, and a fish bowl or similar container. Explain to your staff that for every shopper they greet, they put a white chip in the bowl. They can do this as they greet and move to engage.
When a sale is closed they put a red chip in the bowl. At the end of the day you count the white poker chips to determine how many shoppers came into your store that day, and count the red chips to determine how many sales your store closed that day, and record both numbers.
For example, if you had 40 white chips and 20 red chips, your close rate is 50 percent. You can determine if every shopper and every transaction is tracked on a daily basis, or if only merchandise transactions will be tracked.
The objective is simple: Determine what your close rate is, then set goals and improve it.
Remember, there are only three ways you will be able to grow your tennis retail business:
- Increase the number of customers who visit your store.
- Increase the value of each transaction.
- Increase the number of transactions — that is increase your close rate.
This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).