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The 10 Commandments of Selling Quality Menswear

August 25, 2009

Many of my colleagues and I have discussed successful selling strategies. The following are the reoccurring ideas that have served us well.

1. Understand Your Products Inside and Out. By knowing each brand’s quality features, fit, fabric details, design elements and which items pair well together you will be able to make skillful recommendations and satisfy every customer’s spontaneous request. 

2. Under Promise and Over Deliver. Obviously, a disappointed customer should be avoided at all cost. Not only  is it difficult to overcome a poor first impression, but by delivering on all promises you will gain your customer’s trust and he will increasingly defer to your fashion expertise over time.

3. Don’t Underestimate Your Customer’s Financial Status. Never assume that a potential customer cannot afford a certain price point. Many affluent men do not always look the part and by censoring a customer’s options you will only be losing chances to fully satisfy his needs. The customer should always be allowed to choose.

4. Don’t Pre-judge Your Customer’s Style. This is similar to point number 3. If a seemingly conservative dresser walks into your store to buy a pair of black trousers, your first reaction may be to show him exactly what he asked for but you won’t be doing him or yourself any service. By starting with a more unique fancy black trouser, you will show him something that he may find more appealing than a basic black. If he has a negative reaction, then you may still pick out a more traditional fabric without losing much ground. However, that one fancy slack may inspire him to see other alternatives, which may also lead to sport shirts and sport jackets. You will certainly sell him what he originally requested but by attempting a different approach you may enrich his fashion palette by exposing him to a wider selection.

5. Stay Informed on Sports and Current Events. Service is an art unto itself but it is also the art of conversation. If you are incapable of carrying an interesting conversation with your customers, you won’t be able to create an entertaining social atmosphere or build meaningful long-term connections. After all, men do not like shopping but they do enjoy meeting with friends. Moreover, there will be many experiences and areas of a customer’s life which we cannot relate to and vica versa. Staying abreast of current news items levels the playing field and establishes comfort.

6. Keep Notes. Information is a valuable resource but it needs to be remembered and utilized. By keeping notes on a customer’s personal preferences and spending habits, you’ll be able to follow up on a personal and professional level by referring to previous purchases.

7. Never Sacrifice Long-term Relationships for Short-term Gain. It may be a slow month, but don’t be tempted to overlook establishing a rapport with a walk-in. An aggressive approach may get you an initial big sale but it may cost you an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship.

8. Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Many men need a specific reason to stop in for a visit, such as picking some new outfits to impress  a significant other or for an important business trip. It’s essential to maintain an active presence in each customer’s life by following up with an email or a phone call every 3 months. Refer back to your notes and inform anyone planning a vacation about the newly arrived Antonio Valente linen shirts or you may just call to know if his new bespoke trousers are performing well and are to his liking.

9. Be Honest. Men entrust their appearance and self-expression to us and I do not take this trust lightly. I would rather sell less than sell a customer unflattering garments. At the end of the  day, if a customer receives nothing but complements on his wardrobe, he will remember your honesty and he will return for more valuable advice.

10. Customer Satisfaction. When a customer walks out the door, he should feel nothing but contentment regarding the guidance he was given and the selections he made. Inspiring a customer to step outside of his comfort zone  should never be at the cost of his satisfaction.

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