How to Think Differently About What You Sell?

By Jeremy Blake on March 30, 2017

My weekend sales job during my first year studying drama, and I use the word 'studying' loosely, sees me selling clothes at The Gap on Saturdays.

I’d had training in clothes and how to fold them, I’d had the features and benefits training, “one of the features of this button down collar chambray shirt is you can wear it with the buttons down or er undone.” I’d had training on getting customers to the changing room, “if they try it, they are more likely to buy it.” I seem to remember my manager saying.

We were a good little team, and a good mix of students working part time, with young and older people working full time. For some people working here was to fill a gap, others had their eyes set on becoming managers and being in charge of the wide white expanse of the till area.

We were top sellers, not by being particularly exceptional, we were good smilers and dare I say it a good looking bunch, me with floppy hair then that made me look like an extra in Another Country.

How did I become top Saturday salesperson? Was it by selling lots more Tees than anyone else, or piling up on the socks, or the ‘extra’ shirt, “as you love it, get a spare”, yes to all of these, but it wasn’t my knowledge of every item of clothing that accelerated my sales it was my understanding of a particular demographic. The older woman, the Mum of the son or daughter at Oxford, the public school pupil Mum.

Once she had exhausted the ladies section, I’d catch her at the edge of a display and suggest, “I think I know something that will suit you rather well and probably none of your friends will have it, can I show you?”

At this point we’d go upstairs to the menswear and to the jackets. Luck would have it that the Gap men's jacket range had a selection that also suited women.

I would guess her dress size, and then translate that into the right men’s size and hold the jacket for her and take her to the mirror. She’d look, I’d smile and say nothing till she had turned around 360 degrees and begun to smile too. I then explain that “the cut is flattering with jeans and can be dressed up or down, it looks and must feel comfortable and it hangs just right without being fitted, it gives you great variety not to have to buy a woman’s jacket and it is £20 less than the women’s jackets.”

Rather than looking at your range of clothes and thinking who can I sell them to. Look at your range of customers and think what would they buy.

The right customer may just need to browse unfamiliar sections to find something that they’ll feel really happy about wearing.