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The face-to-face communication skills every merchant needs to perfect

two-people-communication-skillsThe late Mary Kay Ash once said: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important. Not only will you succeed in sales, but you will also succeed in life.” If that’s how Ash built her cosmetics empire, Mary Kay Cosmetics, then it’s difficult advice to ignore.

It’s not enough to rely on an excellent product when you’re a merchant. Because despite the popular phrase, very few things can actually sell themselves. You have to present your product to potential customers in a way that makes its excellence clear, usually in person. Face-to-face communication is not everyone’s strength, but when you’re in the business of selling, it has to be. Summarised below are the communication skills that could take you from merchant to mogul in no time.

Draw them in and keep them engaged

Attracting and retaining customers in retail is about providing the best customer experience all the way through the sales journey. Whether you’re a store owner or a vendor at a market, these face-to-face communication skills should make all your exchanges with your customers more effective:

    • Give them a warm welcome. A relaxed and genuine smile goes a long way towards inviting someone into an interaction. Greet them warmly and ask them if they would like to try one of your products. This isn’t forceful but still opens up the possibility of conversation.


    • Use positive language. Instead of saying you’ve run out of a particular product, try: “That product will be available next week as well as through our online store.” The customer isn’t as tempted to look elsewhere and might even be convinced to purchase a different product.


    • Feed them information. Consumers ask questions when considering products and being able to answer their questions confidently gains you their trust. Listen to what their needs and pain points are so that you can inform them about your products in a way that positions them as ideal solutions to their problems.


  • Be patient. Giving your customers your undivided attention makes them feel valued and important. Some customers are easier to deal with than others, but even the difficult ones should never feel rushed towards a sale.

When things go wrong

You will encounter your fair share of angry and dissatisfied customers as a retailer. Instead of losing a customer, you can neutralize the situation and try to ensure that the customer returns.

    • Remain calm. The first step to de-escalating a situation with a frustrated customer is not to respond with frustration. As tempting as it might be to react emotionally, staying calm and professional encourages the customer to soften so that you can help them with their frustration in a more productive way.


    • Apologize. Always apologize for inconveniences caused to your customer – upfront and sincerely. Sometimes that’s all a disgruntled customer needs to hear.


    • Make them feel heard. Along with your apology should come an expression of empathy. For example: “I understand your impatience. Your order will only be a few more minutes.”


  • Commit to action. Whether it’s checking with your supplier to find out when a product will become available, processing an exchange, or fast-tracking an order, you have to commit to an action to rectify the situation, and you have to follow through with it.

Close every sale

So you’ve managed to steer your customer away from your competition and towards your store or stall, you’ve made your killer pitch, given them all the information they need and waited for them to make a decision. But you’re hit with one last sales obstacle – they have a debit or credit card and you accept only cash. With an mPOS solution like ZipZap in place, you can close every sale by accepting fast and easy card payments, whether you’re a store owner or mobile merchant. ZipZap is easy to set up, it comes with the lowest transaction fees in South Africa, and it’s available through three different pricing models. To find out how you can get yours, download our product guide below.