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A Retail Salesgirl’s Sneaky Sales Tactics Exposed

A Retail Salesgirl’s Sneaky Sales Tactics Exposed
Alison Storm

Like many American college students, I worked my way through school by holding down a part-time retail job. I was lucky enough to land a sales position at one of the few cool stores in the North Grand Mall in Ames, Iowa: American Eagle. While I struggled my way through Economics class by day I excelled at selling carpenter jeans and basic tees during my evening shifts. I learned more about sales strategy from my American Eagle manager than I probably ever could in a college course. And after several years I'm finally spilling the beans about how I got mall shoppers to buy bags of stuff they didn't need-- especially men.

Salespeople are Nice for a Reason

I never will understand sales people who are rude because, in my opinion, it's the nice ones that can take control over your wallet. At least that was part of my sales strategy at American Eagle. I knew if I could build a rapport with people who came into the store I could very easily translate that into bigger sales. I asked my fellow classmates about their course loads, weekend plans and roommates. I made being social part of my job and I never worried whether my manager would get mad because she knew friendliness builds trust, and trust equals sales.


Guys Are Easy to Upsell

My favorite customers were guys. Not because I was boy crazy, but because guys seemed to have a looser hold on their wallets. Sorry men, but in my experience you were far easier to up-sell than the ladies. I think it's because women take shopping seriously. We are willing to visit multiple stores, try on a collection of clothes and don't consider it a failure if we go home empty handed. Men on the other hand are more likely to be one-stop-shoppers. If they really liked a sweater in one color I always suggested that they buy it in another shade. If they were buying one pair of jeans I always pointed out the same cut in a slightly different wash. And often they'd agree.

Constantly Tempt Them with Sale Items

We were always encouraged to increase the number of items we sold in each transaction. This was one of the benchmarks managers looked at when deciding whether we deserved a raise or not. That's why getting you to buy a necklace, a pair of undies or a basic t-shirt was always a goal of mine. One way I often got shoppers to spend just a little bit more was to point out some amazing bargains. "Did you see those necklaces we just marked down?" or "That scarf is only $10 and it would look great with this shirt you're buying" were typical ways I would try to get shoppers to spend even more.

I Own That Too!

While I may  have been great at selling American Eagle product, I was pretty good at buying it too. We received an amazing discount as a way to encourage us to keep the newest merchandise in our closet. We were required to wear American Eagle clothes from head to toe during each shift. They showed us example photos of layered-up sales associates who also served as "real models" for the product we were selling. It can be reassuring to a shopper if they hear an enthusiastic sales associate say "I own that too!" or "I just bought that last week!" But keep in mind they may have bought that shirt because they're required to, not because they couldn't live without it.

Layering = Spending

Another way I was able to sell more items per transaction was to encourage "layering." During my time at American Eagle, layering was always in style. You couldn't just buy a sweater-- you had to buy the collared shirt underneath and maybe even a solid tank to go under that. But if you're a shopper trying to buy on a budget, keep in mind that you may already own some of the basics required for a layered look.

Credit Card Signups Cost You Money

For every credit card application I got someone to fill out I earned points and if your application was approved I earned even more points. I held the top spot for most credit card applications in my store month after month. I earned enough points to score a free espresso maker. How was I so successful? I asked each and every person if they wanted to save 10% by applying for a credit card. I quickly followed that up by saying "It only takes a second," as I pushed the short application their way with a pen. I made it so easy most people couldn't refuse. They thought it sounded like an easy way to save some money, when in fact, marketers know if you've got a store credit card in your wallet you'll spend way more money there. Target officials say that shoppers who use their Target Redcard spend an average of 44% more than other shoppers. So no matter how much money the sales associate says applying for a store credit card can save you-- don't do it. The facts show that little piece of plastic will actually make you spend far more than you would otherwise.

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  1. Sally

    It's interesting to see into the mind of a sales person at some of the chain cloths brands. I'm kind of glad that I do most of my shopping online now, so I don't have to deal with people looking to make a quick sale or push a new credit card in my face.

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