Becoming an ACE at retail selling

The diagram illustrates the setup in a retail sale.

The retail employee is the ‘ambassador’ of your retail proposition – which includes all the Ps of the Retail Mix.
The Customer (is also a person) but they enter the retail environment with a shield between them and the offer you want to make. This ‘shield’ may be past experience, attitude, fears, perceptions, cognitive dissonance etc. (Importantly these are typically emotional in nature.)
The retail sales person must penetrate that shield. There are two facets to that activity:
There are certain psychological hot buttons that can be used to lower the customer’s resistance. (I have written about that before.)
There is a certain ‘process’ that applies. This is the part that muse be ACE’d.
A few observations about this ‘process’:
  • The retail sales interaction is NOT process driven as many trainers/consultants would apply. Sometimes a sale can happen in the blink of an eye, sometimes it takes multiple visits.
  • Occasionally you may recognise ‘stages’ of the process, but you can’t train staff to follow a rigid process such as: Identify the need, evaluate alternatives through to close the sale – or ANYTHING like that.
  • People carry that ‘shield’ for a reason: they don’t want to be sold to, so the best you can do is to make sure you can help them buy.
  • The reasons why people buy are fundamentally emotional. If you want to be effective at helping them buy, you must converse accordingly. (Metaphorical selling is what we train.)
How do you structure this interaction with the customer so that you can:
  • Relate in such a way that you can make a fair representation of your offer?
  • Help the customer buy according to their needs?


  • Approach the customer when you have seen the buying signals.
  • Check your own body language, attitude and energy before you approach. (It’s contagious.)
  • Make sure that the customer can see you when approach.
  • When you are close enough to stop, make sure there are no barriers between yoi and the customer. (There are many different kinds.)


  • Making the connection is the first step. Unless you succeed here, you cannot and should not proceed. In fact, if you feel you screwed this up, smile/greet and move on. Come back later.
  • This connection is verbal and non-verbal. Both should be open, honest and sincere. No tricks necessary: just smile & greet.
  • Do NOT ask if you can help them.
  • There are many appropriate opening statements or questions and these depend on the customer, the scenario and the sales person’s own confidence.
  • Your OBJECTIVE is to make a connection, NOT to make a sale, not to serve the customer, not to even help them buy.


  • Initially we called this execution, but considering what we want to achieve, enablement is a truer reflection. This is where the conversation relies on your knowledge of the offer (including product knowledge) and your knowledge of consumer psychology; that is how to push those hot buttons. 
  • I often marvel at people who have no formal training simply use their instincts without knowing why they do something, simply just do it right. (But not as often as one would like.)
  • The conversation that happens at this stage must be structured to lower barriers and appeal to their emotions. There are phrases that people can learn – and as they experience success, they gain confidence to develop their own style, whilst staying true to the principles.
  • The shield cannot be broken down by ‘force’. (Hard sell.)
Even if you do this right, you may not get the sale today. But if you do it right you will get more often than most, more often than before; and worst case, you will get it next time.
Have fun
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