By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Grocery companies are in the business of selling, and in light of their roles, retail dietitians are in the same business – whether it be selling products, services or programs. I listened to a recent webinar by Nikki Rausch titled Closing the Deal: A Recipe for Building Sales Skills that provided many valuable selling insights for retail dietitians.
With more than 20 years of sales experience, Rausch’s top tip for being effective in sales is to ensure you are likable and credible. People will buy more (or participate more often in programs and recommend your RD services to friends and family) if they trust you and like you. While it seems like a subtle action, Raush suggests matching your rate of speech to your potential client is the best way to make a strong first impression. If you are a fast talker, for example, you may have a tendency to interrupt others or make them lose their train of thought, especially if they have a leisurely pace of dialogue. But if you work to match your rate of speech to theirs, you’ll have a strong first engagement. While in the aisles of the store, ask questions to allow your shopper to talk and you to assess their rate of speech and respond in like.
A common mistake people make that directly impacts others first impression of us is making disclaimers such as “I’m usually more prepared,” “this is my first time,” or “I’m having a bad day.” Avoid starting classes, demos or one-on-one discussions in this way as, according to Rausch, it diminishes your credibility and robs the other person from having an authentic experience with you. It also makes the conversation about you instead of who it should be about – your client.
As educators, dietitians can often kick into lecture mode and ramble on for minutes without taking a breadth. The reality is that asking questions of your client or shopper builds rapport and balances the power between you and them. Raush indicates it’s essential to first ask permission to ask questions so your client doesn’t feel interrogated or on trial.
When teaching a class or answering a shopper question in the aisle or interacting with shoppers at a community event, how often are you recommending other programs and services that you have available in upcoming days and weeks? Being effective at selling includes understanding buying cues, and the most often missed buying cue is when someone makes a comment about a product or service. If, in an educational or cooking class, a person is taking a lot of notes, this is a buying sign. Savvy retail RDs will be wise to catch this person at the end of class and have a chat about other services offered that the consumer might find interesting. If during an in-store demo, a shopper makes positive comments about a product or recipe, use it as an opportunity to highlight an upcoming cooking class or store tour.
With pressure to prove the ROI of healthy living programs, retail RDs may stress about the numbers of shoppers participating in events or attending classes. During her webinar, Rausch discussed the “convincer strategy,” which means people need to hear about something or experience it several times before they will commit to buying a product or service. A shopper may say “no” many times before they say “yes,” but to be effective at selling you must be willing to keep asking for the sale. It may feel redundant to you, but consider a multi-media approach to promoting your programs, using social media, traditional media, word-of-mouth advertising, signage, text messages and more to get shoppers to say “yes” to your RD programs and services.
To learn more about Nikki Rausch and her tips for effective sales, visit http://yoursalesmaven.com/.