Wanna Sell Apparel? Do This…

You want to sell more apparel, don’t you?

But selling apparel is not about selling apparel. Let me explain…

Odds are you have a certain category in your shop that brings home the bacon. Your marketing alludes to it, you mention it during interviews, it’s the grand focus of new hire training, and it ultimately is what everyone’s most excited about. It’s good to have a core product, but if you give it too much love, moving anything else will always be a struggle.

Before doing anything, decide if apparel is part of your big vision. Do you want it? Do you need it? If so, you probably need to make changes to your business philosophy. For example:

Stop hiring people based on passion: Don’t lie, you’ve done this. You’ve hired people because they love your store, only to later realize their magnetism didn’t translate to sales. They are a great energetic addition, but they aren’t innately equipped to take your business to the next level. What a waste of time and money.

Start hiring people based on their values: Rather than be ambiguously ‘passionate’, you should employ people who genuinely want to help others gain control of their lives. Let’s be practical – who cares if a candidate loves what you sell? You think someone who sells fertilizer or toner cartridges is passionate about the product? Doubt it. But they do know how much it can improve customers’ lives, so they sell the holy shit out of it.

See the difference?

The best salespeople on the planet can (and will) convey certain qualities to customers within their first 5-seconds of encountering them: They are enthusiastic, they know their stuff, and they are well-spoken.

These Big 3 add up to someone worth listening to. Someone who can help a customer achieve goals.

Staff who can’t do this are a liability. Yes, I understand that you want to give everyone a fighting chance, but at what cost? My guess is right now you have a couple of these so-so’s on your team. What makes you want to accommodate their limping interactions? Certainly not the bottom line.

You think the Apple Store would put up with a so-so? No way.

I realize this all sounds heartless and hard-nosed. Maybe it’s pushing you out of your comfortable little wheelhouse. But here’s the deal, selling apparel (or anything for that matter) starts with the person doing the selling. And if their delivery is flat, you’re wasting your time and money on any apparel-selling training.

Floor staffers need to be experts in salesmanship. True pros will spend all day in-character on your stage, and get all giddy as they dial in customers’ needs. Authenticity and tactical influencing is what moves shirts and shorts, not boring-ass clinics to a team of so-so’s.

An all star apparel-selling team will develop over time. Do the following 3 things while preparing for your time to arrive:

  1. Flip External Communication: The public knows you sell shoes (or whatever), for crying out loud, so stop reminding them. Tell them instead about the beautiful clothing you carry. Strategize your marketing to highlight sportswear and accessories. You’d be shocked how many of your long-time customers don’t even know you carry the things.
  2. Flip Internal Communication: From interviews to staff meetings, daily round-ups to events, balance your language in a way that puts as much emphasis on apparel as it does anything else. Remember—you decided it’s part of your vision. Now put your mouth where your money is.
  3. Incessantly Train on The Big 3: You’ve got 5-seconds to establish connection. Practice it every day. Scrutinize timing, tone, inflection, verbiage, body language. Practice this exchange everyone’s blue in the face. Go around the room at a staff meeting. Does each staffer’s delivery make them sound enthusiastic, knowledgable, and eloquent? Is their energy congruent with your messaging? When they master this, they’re poised and ready to move some apparel.

Apparel’s not the problem. You are. So quit dissing it.


Tom Griffen is a highly sought after presenter whose message untitled-596transcends industries. He’ll help you alter your narrative in a way that adds joy, satisfaction, and overall success to your life.

Contact him to make a change

Coming soonNo Plan B, Tom’s book on altering the customer service story you’ve been telling for years.

Also…Check out Tom’s upcoming Walk Across America! 3800-miles, 6 months, and more than 7 million steps. 

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