SOURCE: Associates Interactive

July 08, 2008 07:45 ET

Stockings Don't Have to Suffer as Consumers Spend Less

Associates Interactive Provides Retailers With Five SALES Techniques to Illustrate Value for This Holiday Season

BUFFALO, NY--(Marketwire - July 8, 2008) - Each holiday season, consumers flock to stores in search of the latest gadgets and the best gifts for family and friends. However, with recent changes in the economy, such as rising fuel prices, retailers may be in for quite a different scene this year. According to Associates Interactive, retailers need to prepare sales associates for a different sales environment this year.

A recent study conducted by The Nielsen Company found that the dramatic increases in gas prices have been disrupting US consumer spending habits. Additionally, Nielsen predicted that these habits would continue, leaving consumers with less money to spend at retail outlets and on personal entertainment.(1) With the huge hit consumers continue to take against their overall budgets at the gas pump, consumer electronics outlets need to make sure their sales associates are prepared for the holidays.

"Consumers are spending more of their income on essential items such as gas and groceries, leaving less money for hobbies and gifts," said Bob Richardson, president and CEO of Associates Interactive. "In preparation for an uncertain holiday season, it is crucial that consumer electronics outlets arm their sales associates with the best ways to respond to consumers in a changing market. The theme of this holiday season will be 'value for the money' and retail associates should be prepared to talk about the value of every product."

Associates Interactive, an expert in training retail sales associates, offers five SALES techniques that illustrate how associates can emphasize value this holiday season.

Savings

Many customers will want to buy items that are beyond their budget limits. If an associate can explain hidden savings that the customer might have because of the product, customers can have more flexibility to make the purchase. For example, if the customer is interested in a personal navigation device (PND), the associate can point out a product that directs drivers to the lowest priced gas stations or helps them avoid traffic jams. The dollars they save by eliminating extra miles while in traffic or searching for a destination helps justify the purchase.

Alternatives

When an associate senses that a customer's budget is lower than the item they wish to buy, they should be prepared to recommend lower priced alternatives that will partially suit the consumer's expectations. This should be done in a way that keeps the customer excited about the purchase and without creating disappointment.

Longevity

When an associate is providing a product recommendation, they should also present the longevity of the product category. For instance, if the customer is trying to decide between two technologies, recommending the most current technology helps the customer justify the purchase by increasing the value. A technology that has been available for some time will be phased out much sooner, creating a shorter useful life and causing the customer to spend more money, sooner.

Entertainment

While helping a customer envision themselves using a product on vacation was once an effective tool, today this example can create a disconnect with the customer. The majority of customers can't visualize themselves on expensive trips, so associates should suggest ways the customer can use the product as a source of entertainment. For example, if they are interested in giving their dad a video camera, illustrate the features of the camera with examples about the family spending the evening making short movies instead of going to the movie theatre.

Secondary Uses

When sales associates can present customers with secondary uses for a product that they might not have considered, customers are better able to justify the purchase. This increases the customer's value perception of both the product and the service experience.

Approaching the 2008 holiday season with the sales techniques that have been taught in previous years fail to address the changes customers have experienced in their personal finances. Although consumers are generally spending less, they still want to get the best possible gifts for loved ones. If retailers prepare their sales associates to focus shoppers on value, they can help to ensure the best possible holiday shopping season, for both the customer and the retail store.

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(1) The Nielson Company, "Gas Monitoring Report," April 16, 2008," www.nfraweb.org/media/HighGasPricesDisruptConsumerSpending.pdf.

About Associates Interactive

Associates Interactive develops training content, courses, exercises, tests and certifications used to train retail sales associates. The company is addressing the market demand for effective training material that has an immediate and sustained impact on associate behavior and sales results. The independently developed training program, called RetailAI™, better integrates products from multiple manufacturers in the sales discussion, ultimately increasing overall sales for the retailer. More information on Associates Interactive can be found at www.associatesinteractive.com.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Melanie Wehrman
    LEWIS PR for Associates Interactive
    408-573-3665
    Email Contact