Summer 2009 How do you sell product from carts and kiosks effectively without being overly aggressive?

Complaints about aggressive sales techniques by cart operators have been an issue at malls across the country. What other sales strategies can be worked to drive sales effectively? We ask our panel of industry experts.

Deborah S. Kravitz, CLS of Provenzano Resources, Inc.


Deborah S. Kravitz, CLS of Provenzano Resources, Inc.
818.907.7898
ProResourcesInc.com

The first thing to focus on is to attract the customer close to the RMU without going to get them in the hallways. The best way to do this is to have a spectacular display. If it’s colorful, interactive and creates interest, the customer will come to you. Once the customer is in your “sphere” then you can concentrate on making eye contact with the customer, and not having an overly rehearsed script. You need to sound sincere, and listen to the customer. If you sound like you are rushed, or just not paying attention, the customer will sense that they are not important. Make each customer feel as if he or she is the only one, and then show the product. But first, grab their attention with a visual presentation that gets them intrigued.

Linda Rienzo of Fremont Street Experience


Linda Rienzo of Fremont Street Experience
Director of Specialty Retail and Parking Facilities
702.678.5720
VegasExperience.com

It’s such a fine line to walk with customers; being overly aggressive is not the answer. The basic answer to this question goes back to good customer service. If kiosk employees are aware of the traffic that surrounds the kiosk they should take full advantage of it. Walking by kiosks today you either see the employee doing two things: they are “in your face” or they can’t be bothered. The employee that is always talking on a cell phone makes customers feel that they are intruding. A good employee is rare. One that can make eye contact and a friendly hello should be enough to engage the customer without being overly aggressive. This makes the customer feel comfortable enough to stop and engage in conversation. I feel that customers respond better to someone who makes them feel like their business is appreciated.

Jerry Jones of CBL & Associates Prop., Inc.


Jerry Jones of CBL & Associates Prop., Inc.
District Specialty Retail Mgr
336.794.5204
CBLProperties.com

I would suggest revisiting your visual display often and making sure it’s the best display for your product. Revisit your staffing issues—Are your employees properly trained? Are they dressed properly? Are they attentive to customers and do they know the product? Are they greeting each customer? Revisit your marketing efforts—what are you doing to bring traffic to your location? Consider using a database marketing program and capturing the email address for each customer. When sales are slow, send out an email coupon. Partner with other RMU and kiosk owners to promote and sell your business. Revisit your product mix. If it is not selling, find another product or product mix that will sell. Revisit your location in the center—maybe a new location will help increase your sales. Revisit your product pricing. Is the price you are charging the right price for the market? If you hawk products, do so in a normal speaking voice and do not pressure sell. Be prepared to accept all debit and credit cards. Don’t lose a sale because you don’t accept credit cards. Lastly, listen to what your customers have to say about your product line and adapt if warranted.

Sonia Del Rosario of Philadelphia International Airport


Sonia Del Rosario of Philadelphia International Airport
Specialty Leasing Manager
215.937.1200
PhilaMarketplace.com

The key to sound sales is having a high level of customer service. Selling from a cart is different from selling from an inline store. This is a one-person business and this person should be knowledgeable, perfectly understand the products being sold, and be able to make recommendations and suggestions. The salesperson should always greet and smile and never be sitting down, reading or on the phone. Here at Marketplace Philadelphia, we have an ongoing customer service program called EDGE (Excellence Drives Great Experience) to train employees and managers on customer service techniques. The program is designed to help tenants hone customer service skills and maximize selling potential. Topics include mystery shopping, consultation, staff training, and management training. We put together customized customer service training for the RMU program. This training consists of individual on-the-cart training with real time examples, products and scenarios. We are also working on an “RMU Instant Reward Program” to recognize the positive service behavior of the RMU employees.

Katherine Skelton of The Block at Orange in Orange, CA


Katherine Skelton of The Block at Orange in Orange, CA
Specialty Leasing Manager
714.591.9925
TheBlockAtOrange.com

My preferred method of demonstration is a video loop that demonstrates the product. The video grabs the customers’ attention, avoiding the issue of tenants having to verbally or physically getting the customer to stop by the cart or kiosk. After the customer has stopped, the tenant can begin the demonstration for the customer. With a video it is much easier to set parameters for the tenant to follow—i.e., volume of TV—than setting and enforcing rules about allowed distance from cart or how the tenant can speak to customers passing by.

Mark Green of Westfield Garden State Plaza


Mark Green of Westfield Garden State Plaza
Specialty Leasing Manager
201.843.2121
GardenStatePlaza.com

At Westfield Garden State Plaza, we took a two-pronged approach to the problem. We reduced the number of demonstration products in our common area and we provided a training tool to outline our expectations. We wanted to figure out the right amount of demonstration products to improve the customer’s experience and our corporate office developed a variety of training tools for retailers in several languages. These train employees on how to work in our centers. The response from shoppers has been favorable and retailers have begun to embrace this new operating standard; now they know our expectations.