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Tag Team Selling

Techniques for salespeople working together

If you are a sports fan, as a participant or an observer, you probably have a preference for individual or team sports. And when we ask you why, there will undoubtedly be among the reasons, that you like to see a team working together or the performance of a single individual.

Because of your knowledge of sports, perhaps you will agree that referring to a sport as being an "individual" is somewhat incorrect. For any person participating in an individual sport has to have the necessary trainers and coaches to succeed. Watch the Olympics and as an individual is competing, the television camera will undoubtedly show a shot or two of the coach who is present while the announcer tells of the others whose contributions have allowed this individual to be participating at the highest level of the sport.

With team sports there is the same individual effort, but an added factor of each of the individuals working together for a common goal. Perhaps we should look at all sports as being team sports, but some have more than one athlete. There is a strong similarity to this scenario and selling. On the sales floor we often look at this as being an individual effort.

Unfortunately in many businesses it truly is an individual effort as sales people see another sales person as being the competitor instead of being the team mate. This happens often in commission sales situations. The synergy of a sales staff can greatly come into play when everyone sees themselves as a team player instead of a competitor. Let's look at two situations where we can greatly increase our opportunity of making a sale, as well as increasing the size of the sale.

Imagine the customer first walking in the door. Hopefully, they see a variety of exercise equipment, clothing and accessories that invite them to move about your store. To set your store apart from the competition, consider using this three point approach to acknowledging a customer. The first team member needs to greet the customer in a casual and friendly manner; not approaching the customer to wait on them, but simply making eye contact and giving a warm "hello" or "good morning".

If the customer is in a hurry, they will tell you and immediately ask for the product. If they have come into the store to shop, we have not invaded their space and have simply acknowledged their presence.

As the customer wanders into a certain area of your store, and begins to more closely examine a group of items, tread mills for example, we can make another contact. A second team member can make a comment of, "We just got this new model in. We think it is quite an improvement over last year's."

Again we have allowed the customer plenty of space and the opportunity to engage in a conversation. In another few minutes, a third person can walk by the customer with an offer of, "I would be glad to get the owner's manual for you to look at", or "I am putting up some merchandise on the next aisle, so if you have a question just holler for me to come help you".

What does this three step approach get you? Well, for a comparison just look at some of the competition and observe how some people feel like they are being attacked by the sales people in some stores. From the experiences of this writer using this three step technique in his store, there were numerous customers who said, "You know I enjoy coming into your store because your staff doesn't climb all over me like some other stores do".

As I would hear this, I would thank the customer and remember that at least three people had approached them. Our secret to the friendly sales technique was our tag team effort. The second tag team selling effort is utilized after a customer has asked for assistance. Imagine the situation where one of your sales people is talking with a customer but is unable to close the sale. Many stores use the technique of asking what is stopping the customer from buying today. Many customers will see this as pressure being applied. Instead, our sales person would tell the customer they were unsure about the answer for one of the customer's questions and would ask another staff member for help. The customer was told that the second staff member had a lot of experience with this exercise equipment and that the original sales person wanted to make sure the customer was looking at the right equipment for their needs.

When the second staff member joined the conversation, the original team member would explain the customer's needs. As the second staff person listened, they would make a point to ask the customer one or two additional questions. Sometimes the questions asked provided additional insight to the customer's wants and needs. But often, the questions were asked only to allow the second staff person to participate and the answers did not provide any new information.

From this, the second staff person would confirm the first staff person's suggestion or would say, "I can see where you would select the first rowing machine, but from what you have told me with your last two answers, I would suggest this model, because ..."

This tag team model works for several reasons. One is that the first staff member is seen as wanting to make sure the customer gets the right equipment. If the customer selects the first suggested rowing machine they have added confidence of knowing two sales people have verified their selection. If the second rowing machine is selected, while the customer knows a better selection has been made, the first team member has not been embarrassed in front of the customer.

Anticipating the second staff member to be the more experienced of the two, there is also the opportunity of a question and answer period between the two staff members in an effort to improve the sales skills of the first. In each of our businesses, we have staff members with varying degrees of product knowledge and sales expertise. Of course, we want each staff member to gain from their experiences. We can however, speed up the learning curve by implementing two procedures.

The first is to assign the new or inexperienced person to become the student of the more seasoned staff member. You can make learning these skills a part of the job description and establish a policy of giving a job review every six months; of which a pay raise is contingent upon improving the skills. As for the more seasoned individual, teaching these skills can be a part of their job description with their raise being contingent upon the student gaining these new skills.

If you are not already having bi-weekly staff meetings, this is a good time to begin. And the exercises of working in teams to speak to customers and asking a second team member to participate can be a part of these staff meetings where you have your employees practice with each other. Sporting events, whether they have an individual participant or a team of participants, do require a team of individuals to be successful. And for your business to be more successful and profitable, tag team selling can be just the right exercise.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179