Do your retail sales teams have the emotional intelligence to sell proactively?

Sunday 11 September 2016

How many times have you been in a shop and felt that the way in which you were greeted was completely inappropriate? Recently, I was in a major UK high street retailer looking at a handbag, (yes, men shop for their wives too these days), when a retail assistant rushed up to me and gushed “Yeah. I like that one too. A lady was in here earlier and bought two for her nieces.” Whilst the sales assistant, quite rightly took the initiative and approached me, if she had been better trained, her greeting might have been more along the lines “Hello I’m Sophie. Would you like some help sir, perhaps I could be of assistance?”. This would have been a great opener to start a good conversation during which she could have effectively established my needs and discovered how she could help me.

Naturally, shops with different target audiences will require a distinct approach. A cool hipster clothes outlet will need their people to dress and communicate in a way that reflects the brand. On the other hand, a top end audio equipment shop will require sales assistants that can effectively discuss the features and benefits of a very technical sale.

However, in both examples there is a common denominator. To be proactive, whatever the brand, your sales teams need to understand the requirements and emotions of each individual customer and to communicate with them appropriately. And this does require high degree of emotional intelligence.

So what is emotional intelligence?
During the 1990s, people began talking about emotional intelligence - when it was established that people with an average IQ outperformed people with the highest IQ 70% of the time. Emotional intelligence is that intangible “something special” in how some people manage their personal behaviour and navigate complex social interactions to achieve the desired results (Bradberry 2014). And I am sure we all know people are naturally very good at managing the social landscape within both their personal and professional lives. Fortunately, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed.

So what are the implications for retailers? Can improving the emotional intelligence of your frontline team impact on performance? At Prosell, our experience shows that training can impact on behaviour and help your people improve their social awareness, so that they can pick up on how customers are feeling at a particular time and adapt their language and actions to achieve the desired outcome.

This type of training, which supported with on-going coaching and support from your frontline managers, can help your sales assistants to feel confident about how they approach customers and manage the conversation to end in a positive result.

The proactive sale requires emotional intelligence
Selling proactively is all about taking the initiative and having the right conversation with a customer. Just imagine the impact, if you were greeted by well-trained frontline people, who asked appropriate questions and gave you exactly the assistance you needed. For me, that would make it a stand out brand experience.

If you would like to discuss retail sales training and improving the performance of your frontline sales teams, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

Further reading
Emotional Intelligence –EQ. Travis Bradberry
Forbes 2014

This post was written by

Mark BW McDermott

Account Director