4 Characteristics of Highly Successful Retail Sales Associates

Posted by David Fisher on

The retail bedding selling process is comparable to an obstacle course. The starting line is the greeting of the customer and the finish line is the closing of the sale. To reach the end they must hurdle the many objections, concerns, confusions, and price resistance blocking their path. This process is also like a chess match where the RSA's anticipate all the possible moves and have the corresponding responses to them. They know their products by heart and have their go to beds in their back pockets. They are always in control of the entire process and make sure they never lose it back to the customer.

There are four characteristics shared, or roles played by the most successful RSAs. They are as follows:

  1. Highly effective salespeople must first become sociologists, students of human behavior. It is imperative that they immediately attempt to build a rapport with the clients. If they are first time shoppers, this will determine whether they will end their search with you. If they have been shopping around, they haven’t learned enough to make a confident decision. Before the RSAs can start the process they have to develop an element of trust in order to be successful.
  2. They then must assume the role of detective.  The key to developing an accurate path to the right sleep system is to ask targeted, probing questions aimed at understanding customer’s specific sleep habits, needs, and medical requirements. Accomplishing this requires keen listening skills. Customers respond to these questions by giving clues as to the goal they are hoping to reach. A byproduct of this approach is an increase in the selling price of the system finally purchased.
  3. As the process moves into the selling mode, RSAs become marketing managers. They present the products available on their floor, limiting what is shown to those that are closely aligned to the customer’s specific needs. Once they narrow down the sleep systems they will focus on, the RSAs then demonstrate their features and how they will benefit the customer’s very specific requirements.
  4. When it comes time for a decision, the RSAs become consultants, summarizing what has been learned and reinforcing all the areas of agreement.  They use their passion, compassion, patience, concern, knowledge, and experience to guide their clients in making a decision they are confident will lead them to the deep, restful, pain-relieving sleep they are hoping to find. The consultant takes this time to find out if their clients have any areas of concern or confusion that need to be revisited and to determine that they understand completely the benefits and value they will derive from the sleep system they are about to pay for.

The retail selling floor is like a stage and the spotlight is on you, the RSA.  Regardless of what they say, none of your customers are shoppers…they are buyers who have no desire to shop anywhere else.  They are not experts so they test you on your knowledge as compared to theirs.  They're looking for someone they can trust to help them find the sleep system that best fits their specific requirements and they're hoping that someone will be you.  They don't have access to the information you do, but they do have a need.  If they knew exactly what they wanted they would walk right up to that bed and have anyone write it up for them. An RSA's ultimate success can be measured by how well (s)he can master these roles. 

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About David

David Fisher is originally from Philadelphia, Pa. He owned and managed a chain of women’s shoe stores in Pittsburgh for many years. Later he was a sales associate at Levin Furniture in Pittsburgh, Rooms to Go in South Florida, and RC Willey in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fisher was National Sales Manager for Bell Sleep Products LLC, a bedding line developed for Bell Furniture Industries by International Bedding Corporation. He is currently a sales consultant with Macy’s. View all articles by David
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