How To…Survive In Retail

This is the first of my “How To…” posts which will be posted every Wednesday. I realized that I know lots of interesting people who know lots of interesting things…so I asked different ones to share with us. Kicking us off is Kendall Hopkins. She makes her living selling dresses at a high end department store. Many of us have worked in retail at one point, but Kendall is good at it. So, I asked her to share her insights. Enjoy! :

To say I am good at selling dresses is an understatement. Fantastic. Exceptional. Lucrative? I could keep going…but I won’t. I’ll spare you. And practice humility.

I sold $1,400 worth of dresses to a lady…then turned around to sell another $800 to a different lady. This is just the tip of the iceberg for a Tuesday. You should see me on a Saturday.

Why am I good? Not sure. Perhaps it’s the lineage of salesmen blood in my veins. Or my thick skin I developed from evangelistic endeavors gone awkward. Or the years I spent cheerleading?

Who cares why I’m good? What a waste of time in over analyzing my greatness in this area…

The Basics of Being a Baller Dress Seller:

1. MOVE IT OR LOOSE IT SISTER. If you’re not moving you’re loosing. Stay busy. I move around. I never stand still and twiddle my thumbs. Leaning on the counter or fixing your pony tail in the mirror makes you look lazy, unapproachable, and inexpert-like. Customers will ask the girl for help that looks helpful. Not the girl who is standing around chatting it up about how she and her boyfriend got in the worst fight over his cat Trickles. My co-workers would get mad at me because I would have 3 customers and then get 2 more. It was not because I wanted to help them…but really they wanted me to help them. They saw I was busy and that looked better than the girls that were not. Perhaps this is why talented people get more talented…

2. POUNCE ON IT. You must be the first to initiate. Say hello. But hello is boring and so last year. Comment on their Venti Starbucks. Large chubby kid in the stroller with fantastic eyes and drool down the chin. Bracelet that you wish you could afford. Anything. Comment & greet.

3. MOVE IN FOR THE KILL. Cut straight to the chase. None of this dancing around business. I have no time for that. I never say “Are you looking for a dress?” That my friend. Is Stupid. Of course she is looking for a dress. She is standing in the middle of the dress department. I start asking questions…”Why are you looking for a dress?” Then I listen. And look at her closely. To whatever she has to say. And pay close attention. Not to just what she says. But how she says it. Her body language. Her eyes. Did they light up? Or look dreary? Was her voice timid or tenacious? Was her answer short and abrupt or long with way too much detail. Depending on this…Leads me into number 4…

4. SERVE WHILE SERVING DIFFERENTLY. You have to be good at reading people. If you’re not. Give up. Do something else. Depending on how a person is…is how you sell to them. Some people want you to wait on them hand and foot…others want to be left alone. Your job…is to give them the kind of service in the manner they want it. Those that want to be left alone…leave them alone. Those that want your suggestions, feedback, encouragement, opinion…give it to them. And be ready to run around…

5. WRAP BACON AROUND A VITAMIN AND FEED IT TO THE DOG. You must master the art of telling ladies the truth. If it looks bad. It does. And let’s not lie for money. That is greed. And makes the world a less attractive place. The last thing we need is women showing up to places looking silly. Shoot them straight. When you tell them the truth about something that looks bad, they will believe you more when you tell them that something looks good. You must be kind in doing so. How you word it matters.

For example:
I never say “Your butt looks horrible…I can see all your flab.”
But I do sat…”I love that blue on you. It brings out your eyes. All you need is Spanx to make it more seamless.”

Seamless vs. fat butt. I was getting to the same point…but one goes over way better. There is an art to this. One must figure it out. It does wonders to one’s success.

6. GET EXCITED. You must get excited about their life…the backstory. Why are they buying the dress? Where are they going tonight? When did they get engaged? How long have the boy and you been together? How many kids do you have? Why are you going to the south of France? What kind of law do you practice? Get excited about the clothes…but more importantly get excited on where they are wearing the clothes…

People like going to the sales person who knows their backstory. That cares about their backstory. Like a person who does set designs for movies. Set designers have to read the script. They know where the move started and where it needs to end up.

That my friends is how you survive in retail.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “How To…Survive In Retail

  1. This is brilliant! Kendall, you need to do seminars, write a book or maybe a stand-up routine with this knowledge.

  2. I agree. Seminars are in the future.

  3. 7. work harder = paid the same

  4. Enjoyed that! I used to work retail and it's hard work. I think so many work to work and in reading Kendall's story it says it's an art for her. People are looking for people to serve well and when you find them it's an amazing thing. Thanks Liz and thanks Kendall!

  5. I love this. Great fun and life lessons to boot. Good job Kendall!!! Not only do you make $, you serve the hearts of people and they feel valued by the time they leave your presence I can tell. You never know what else God may open as you speak into a heart that's just wearing a very nice dress on the outside. Beautiful!! … AND, this really made me smile alot. 🙂

  6. the last comment was made by me, Jeannie Selke. I don't know why it wouldn't let me enter my name or Gibbies11, or MamaJeannie. I must have forgotten how to do something. Weird.

  7. I forwarded this to my eighteen year old son who's fired up about sales. He recently got a job at a consignment car sales company. But I think he can find some wisdom to transfer from the dress department to the car lot. Cool!

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