Sales Training: Five rookie mistakes in retail

sales training: 5 rookie mistakes in retailRetail is different to most other type of sales. In some ways it’s easier because people are actively looking for something and they’re already in the buying mood. All you have to do is wait for people to walk through the door. Some people who work in retail don’t really see it that way. Maybe it’s because they are rookies, or maybe it’s because they’ve never done anything else. Either way, retail sales is a noble profession and a form of art like any other form of sales. Here are the five most common mistakes you should try to avoid.

#1 they’re just looking

A lot of sales reps in retail think that people will approach them if they are interested in buying. “Sure the boss says we need to ask them how we can help, but usually they’ll just say they’re just looking. If they want something, they’ll come to you.”

Wrong, rookie! Everyone who’s in your shop wants something. Unless they are there to support someone else, that’s why they are there. You have to approach everyone. Some will say they are ‘just looking’ but all that means is that they haven’t made up their mind on what they want. Maybe you can help them. The more people you approach, the more you’ll sell. It’s that simple.

#2 too many options

Never ever give someone more than two options. Give your customer more than two options and he will be confused and a confused customer is never a buying customer. Before you start offering options, make sure you fully understand your customer’s wishes. Does he want a certain size or color; is he looking for a certain spec? What is his price range?

Once you’ve asked all your questions and you think you know everything about the customer’s wishes, ask him again: “do you have any other preferences?” “Is there anything else you want?” Once you know absolutely everything about your customer’s preferences, give him the two closest options.

#3 who really decides?

Don’t sell to the wrong person. You have to know who the real decision maker is because the decision maker has the ultimate say. It usually is either the person who will use your product, or the person that has to pay for it. Sometimes two or more people make a mutual decision, but they have different preferences. Make sure you satisfy all their needs.

#4 Don’t give up on the up sell

A lot of sales reps are afraid they will lose the “main” sale if they lose the up sell. They are discouraged by this thought and because of that reason they only make half an effort to make an upsell, if any at all! The chances of losing the main sale if you lose the up sell are minimal. Go for the up sell, every single time.

#5 don’t lie about the competition

Some retail rookies will say that the competition doesn’t offer any warranties or that their service is not good. They will make up bad things about their competition to make their own product look good. Don’t do this. Not only is it very unprofessional, it also makes you less trustworthy. Besides, your prospect may have a different experience with the competition which means they will know you’re lying plus they can very easily compare different services online at the tip of their fingers.


  • Internet/ google has changed sales as well. Most customers nowadays first try to inform themselves as much as possible before entering a store/ shop. Most of times they already know what they are looking for, what the specifications are, how much it costs etc.

    Therefor I think the “Old School Sales Training Methods” have to be adjusted to “Sales Training (Web) 2.0”!

    • Tom says:

      Completely agree. A lot of people find what they are looking for online.

      However, a lot of people then go to the shop to get expert advice, or to see the product in real life.

      It is the sales rep’s duty to provide that advice and also to ensure that the prospect then buys from your shop and not the competitors. That’s where you make the difference!

  • Hi Tom,

    Actually my first job was as a storemanager in retail and I must say it’s a very exciting world. It truly makes me sad how people often disrespect retail sales people or even look down on them. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not an easy job that requires good social skills and understanding of the sales process.

    Great tips by the way, remembers me of my first sales ‘mentor’ who used to say “No one walks in if he or she is not at least a bit interested in what we’re doing here. Interest is the first step to every sale, so go make it happen.”


  • Mico says:

    Retails is the best type of sales as the clients come to you all prepared to buy.

  • Very useful and informative post. Excellent customer service is also very important. Providing the customer an assistance on what they’re looking for and suggesting some products that will be of help to the customer, show that they are important. Thanks for sharing.

  • CV Service says:

    Hate when the sales person thinks they are better than you. I went into Jack Wills once to buy a hoodie for my daughter. Snotty sales kid was to busy chatting up young girls rather than help me!

  • Derek says:

    Oloou is looking for workers in retail positions.

    Retail Jobs