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Retailers as far back as the legendary pioneer Marshall Field once focused intensely on clinching sales once customers walked into stores. But recently, the industry has been missing opportunities to make sales. New technologies, extensive retailer Web sites, mobile-shopping tools, and in-store Internet kiosks have separated customers from sales associates. Content to let consumers research products independently, many retailers have been reducing in-store sales staff and eliminating commission-based models. This approach has resulted in lower costs, but it has also reduced incentives for those left on the floor to make sales.
Many retailers assume that customers walk into stores for purely transactional purposes: they know what they want and just need to buy it. Yet McKinsey research indicates that as many as 40 percent of customers remain open to persuasion once they enter a store, despite undertaking extensive product research, reading online reviews, and comparing prices on their own. Retailers that fail to have knowledgeable staff on hand to help customers make decisions, or even to create arresting in-store visual marketing materials, are losing sale after potential sale. More than ever, retailers need a sales-driven mind-set focused on having the right number of sales staff; ensuring those staff are knowledgeable, well-trained, and motivated to sell; and providing the right in-store experience for customers.
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