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How to Really Succeed at Retail

Callie Lushina March 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Not moving retail this time of year? Maybe you’re stuck in a pattern that needs some re-tweaking. All it takes is adjusting your team members’ focus to actually make sales easier for them, along with a lesson in today’s media-savvy consumer. Here are six tips to transform your retail sales and re-energize your staff.

1. Get focused

With multiple brands on the shelves, it’s all too easy for team members to get overwhelmed when promoting products. Streamline the process by placing the spotlight on just one product promotion per week. It helps staff get focused so they have the time to learn the product inside and out. Have team members take the product home and test it in advance. The more they use it, the easier it is to talk about. And they can up-sell other products because they’ll understand how all the products work together. With 52 weeks a year, you’ll get through your entire product inventory twice over, and your staff will be incredibly knowledgeable about every single product.

2. Stop “pitching”

Face it—consumers today are more than savvy. They are familiar with technology, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and they are reeled in by quick bits of information. They can spot a product pitch a mile away, so put your energy into the “ah-ha factor”—those testimonials and tidbits that aren’t necessarily printed on a product’s package. The ah-ha factor is what they’d hear if a friend was explaining a product to them, not a pitchman. For example, instead of describing a cleanser with a typical pitch, such as “This new cleanser provides mild daily exfoliation,” try being more conversational such as, “This is great if you’re short on time; it’s a cleanser and exfoliator in one,” or “Hey, there are actually 500 puffs of foam in this cleanser, so it’s going to last a long time!” Work with your team to come up with ah-ha factors to describe your products. They can be a “quick tip,” a “did you know?” or anything that’s an interesting share from friend-to-friend.

3. Act it out

Make time for staff to role-play potential interactions with clients. Type up a script and go through a rehearsal. Come up with and ask potential customer questions, and get everyone involved. This will help team members feel as prepared as possible each week and ready to sell.

4. Create an experience

Places such as Williams-Sonoma do demonstrations in-store because they boost sales. You can do the same, but make sure you emphasize the “experience” when demonstrating products. It gives a chance for clients to touch, smell and get involved with a product one-on-one. Show them how an eye makeup remover works by removing stubborn eye liner drawn on the back of your hand, or let them feel the smooth-as-glass results of a serum on their own hand while comparing it to the hand that didn’t experience the product. You can even let clients smell the scent of an aromatherapy body cleanser by foaming it up in a loofah puff.

5. Get your testers and samples ready

Make sure you have fresh, clean testers ready. Place them everywhere: at stations, on the retail shelves and at the reception desk. Assign team members to check and clean testers throughout the day. Plus, make sure you have product samples ready to hand out if requested.

6. Give them what they want.

When you have a retail promotion, work with the brand you support to obtain travel sizes and deluxe mini-sized products available to give away. Long gone are the days when clients were happy with tchotchkes. Tote bags have their time and place, but when you sell a product, you always want to promote another product at the same time. Entice customers with a free travel size; if this is not a set promotion from the manufacturer, then supply it bundled up in a package from you.

As Bioelements’ vice president of marketing, Callie Lushina has been leading promotions, marketing and social media initiatives for the professional skin care company since 1998. She oversees a staff of dedicated marketing, creative and communications experts at Bioelements’ Office of Strategy and Support in Chicago.

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