You've heard of scripts (ugh) and positive body language, but have you been focusing on curiosity in sales?
Most retail stores overlook it… and then complain that not enough people visit their branches!
Instead, gain an advantage over the average competitor by teaching THIS to your staff.
Not-so-curious retail sales assistants: the problem with the current situation
Way too many retail stores are still relying on scripts, and customers can tell. Seriously.
It’s so obvious when a front-of-house staff member is asking certain questions in order to manipulate a customer and pressure them into a sale.
Now, this might ruffle a few feathers, but I don’t believe the main job of your retail staff is to share information and convince people to buy something.
It’s to provide a memorable in-store experience, make a connection, establish trust, align themselves with the person in front of them, and genuinely help them make an informed decision.
That’s where curiosity in sales comes into play.
What does it mean to be curious in sales?
Being curious in sales and retail means actively wanting to find out more about the needs and motivations of each customer.
Curiosity in sales is about connecting and converting rather than just focusing on the latter… because conversions will happen naturally, in this case!
That’s why, while curiosity is traditionally seen as an emotion, it’s also a skill in this context.
The good news? Like any other skill, it can be developed and mastered after the initial mindset shift.
Why is curiosity in sales so effective and important in OMNI retail?
53% of shoppers are likely to look at products in-store and then buy them online. Will they still buy them from you, though?
Hoping for the best is a risky game when you can actually make a difference for them whilst they’re still… you know? IN YOUR STORE!
For your retail brand to survive in the new OMNI reality, you need to give your customers a reason to visit your physical locations, come back, and use your in-store technology to their advantage (even when they could easily buy everything online on their own).
And one thing’s for sure: you won’t do that with parrot-style scripts!
It’s important for every single staff member to keep in mind that they’re SERVING the person in front of them.
And guess what? This potential customer has already cast a vote of confidence in your brand by walking into your store. Now, it’s your staff’s job to make them feel like it was 100% worth it.
To do that, they need to connect with them on a human and personal level (no robotic scripts!), ask meaningful questions, and lead them to a decision that’s actually tailored to their unique situation.
When done well? The customer closes the sale themself.
Here’s exactly why curiosity in sales works.
Genuine curiosity-led questions remove assumptions
Just like your staff’s sales ceremony shouldn’t be scripted, it also shouldn’t rely on guesswork.
Different people might want the same product for completely opposite reasons… and you know what? The product they initially had in mind might not even be the best choice in their specific situation!
But you wouldn’t be able to advise them or even figure it out in the first place without first asking the right questions.
Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re being “sold to.” They want to feel looked after, heard, and actually understood.
Your staff’s curiosity is the starting point.
When they genuinely care about a customer’s needs and goals, that’s when they can understand how to help them get there.
NOT with an impersonal script.
It creates an alignment between your staff and the customer
Once your staff members start focusing on the unique situation in front of them, they can find the information they need to recommend the right solution for them personally (not just what you want them to push this month).
Curiosity in sales is what allows them to get the information they need to then direct them there.
It triggers reciprocity
Deep down, we’re all wired to reciprocate, whether that’s because someone has just done us a favour or because they’ve asked us about our day.
So, if your sales assistants are curious about your customers, the latter will also feel compelled to be curious about your brand and what your staff has to offer.
The sale closes itself
The previous four points all boil down to this.
Being genuine and authentic
Becoming aligned with your customers
this connection leads to conversions in most cases. Not only that: it makes your customers want to come back to your physical stores.
Top soft skills required for curiosity in sales
Now that you know why curiosity in sales is important (especially in the current OMNI and phygital reality), what should you focus on when training your staff?
1. Active listening
Once again, that’s one of the (many) reasons why scripted interactions just don’t work.
Your staff needs to listen—actually listen—to your customers and ask more questions accordingly.
Depending on what they say, this might change the course of the sales ceremony your staff member was expecting to follow.
As we’ve seen, establishing a personal connection is central to OMNI retail.
You can’t do that if your staff doesn’t actually care about your customers and can’t make them feel this connection on a human level!
At the end of the day, we’re still talking about customer service and sales. So, of course, communication is key, too!
As well as using their curiosity to find the best solution, your staff must also be able to communicate it clearly, making your customers feel that this is indeed the right option for them.
Coaching your team to develop curiosity in sales and thrive in OMNI retail
As I said before, curiosity in sales is a skill, so it must be trained and developed.
During my 20 years in retail, I’ve heard too many excuses from both store managers and staff members:
“I’m just not a natural seller”
“I don't feel good taking people's money"
“Well, I wouldn't pay [x amount of money] for this product, so I don't come across authentic enough"
This mindset does indeed translate into forced scripts or staff members hovering around the till instead of having meaningful conversations with your customers.
That’s why it’s vital to trigger this mindset shift and train them properly and regularly.
Curiosity in sales must be an integral part of your store’s culture if you’re serious about reaching your OMNI potential and thriving during retail’s phygital age.