How often has this happened to you: a customer comes in looking for a specific item. Your sales staff knows you carry the item, but cannot find any more stock in the store. The staff member apologizes, and the customer leaves empty handed. There has to be more you can do in that situation, right? This article by Bob Phibbs offers some advice to retailers that can help you make a sale even if you don’t have exactly what a customer is asking for.
Rather than train employees to have a “a passive ‘clerking’ mentality” in which the employee just says the item is out of stock, end of story, Phibbs says to challenge employees to think on their feet to make a sale. The best way to do this is to engage the customer. Find out why they want the item and what they would use it for. Then, you can point them toward similar items that will do the job for them. Or maybe the employee knows that a particular color or fabric is difficult to care for, and they can steer the customer toward something a little easier to take care of, something you have in stock.
With proactive sales strategies and informed, empowered employees, you’ll turn away fewer customers and make more sales.