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What I Learned Selling Shoes to Rich People

For several years, I worked at a luxury fashion department store, Nordstrom.  It was the job that helped me pay my way through college and it taught me a lot about working with clients, sales, customer service, building loyalty, working hard for sales commissions, and a thing or two about fashion.  

I remember the long work days, standing on my feet all day, working holidays, weekends, the intense half-yearly and anniversary sales, serving thousands of clients.  My co-workers and I joked about one day writing a book about what it was like working in retail, because we had all kinds of crazy stories working with clients and meeting new people every day.   

I say "rich people," as a catchy title, but really the company targets middle class, and some stores or departments are exclusively targeting high-end shoppers, there are all kinds of customers.  

These lessons learned, apply to different types of businesses.  

Some customers were high-maintenance, some were discreet and fashion averse, some were rude and obnoxious, but most of the time, clients were great to work with and I loved the variety, I loved my co-workers and it was a great company.

Customer Service Matters 

 It’s in your best interest to focus on the customer.  You won’t get any sales if you’re not doing a good job of serving others.  Period. This applies to several businesses. You need to think about the customer’s needs, and exceed their expectations, if you want them to come back and shop with you again. 

Taking the time to make your customers feel special and create a great experience for them, is what separates the mediocre from the pros.  How do you like to feel when you shop? Guess what, others want that too. You want to feel well taken care of. It’s worth the extra effort. I would often hand-write thoughtful and personalized thank you cards to my clients, and send them in the mail. 

This was one of the ways I was able to build genuine relationships, and in turn, increase my client loyalty.  The next time they came into the store, they would ask for me, and it was great having a personal connection and relationship with my clients, because I really did care about them.  

Don’t Stop at 1

We had a rule where if a customer wanted to try on a pair of shoes, you would bring them out 4 pairs. 

Why? Because chances are that the one pair of shoes they think they like, may not fit how they thought, or it might be too narrow, too tall, or it’s not what they thought it was and they didn’t want it after all.

When you bring out a few options (or “offers”), you increase your odds of helping clients find something they love, when a better option is right in front of them.  This lead to happier customers and more sales. 

Listen & Problem Solve

You want to fill in the gaps of what a customer desires.  I would often have clients come in with an idea, or maybe none at all, of what they wanted.  You have to be quick on your feet, and be thinking ahead of the customer, brainstorming your best solutions to meet their needs.  You have to be the one to help put together the puzzle, and make it easy for them to get exactly what they want. 

Whether thats online, or in a physical store, or in another department all together.  It's kind of fun, like solving a mystery, or a choose your own adventure. 

The more you know your customers, and the more you interact with your target audience, the better you get at meeting their needs and also understanding what they really want, because sometimes they don't know what that is.  

I have so much I could teach on this topic and the experiences learned, would you like to learn more? I'd love to hear from you. 

What is an area that you'd like to learn more about?  Let me know. 

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