Complete the sale

Nashville Business Journal

June 5, 2015


There are four key selling points that we continually hammered home at Tractor Supply sales meetings. They are aimed at the retail selling process, but these principles apply to just about any selling situation:

1. Learn a customer name a week. There is no more powerful selling tool than addressing a customer by name, and particularly by the name the customer prefers. It’s not uncommon to walk into a Tractor Supply store and hear the cashier say, “Good morning, Charlie,” or “Good afternoon, Mrs. Jones.” Even as the person moves further into the store you will likely hear a sales person take a similar direct approach. The best starting point of any sales transaction is a friendly, personal greeting.

2. Walk the customer to the product. When a customer is looking for something, take him or her to the right area first. All too often retail sales people just raise an arm and point to some distant aisle. An old friend in the retail business taught me how to discourage “finger pointing” among employees. Our joke was to tell people that if we saw them pointing, we would bite their fingers off. Of course I never actually bit anyone’s finger, but you can bet that image was memorable enough to prevent most pointing. In any business it is just good policy to lead customers to products and educate them in as much detail as necessary.

3. Ask the right questions. The generic “Can I help you?” almost universally gets the common “No thanks, I’m just looking” response. We found that by simply modifying the question to “What are you looking for?” we almost always elicited a clear response about a specific product or problem, which led directly to a productive sales conversation. Asking the right questions can start beneficial discussions—and, ideally, a final sale.

4. Practice “three’s a crowd.” In retail terms this means if there are three people at the checkout, open the next terminal immediately. In a store, money collection closes the sale. Customers need to be checked out quickly and courteously so they leave with a good impression of the final process. No matter what your closing process, end on a positive note and you’ll leave the door open for future transactions.

In one way or another we are all selling a product, process, idea or ourselves. Take another look at the four points above and ask yourself if you are doing all you can to be a sales success in life.


Joe Scarlett is the retired CEO of Tractor Supply Company and
Founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute
He can be reached at Joe@joescarlett.com

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