It’s Expensive…

It’s Expensive…

Australia may appear to be reasonably insulated from the word ‘recession’ appearing in the US and UK media. Nonetheless, retailers should consider re-thinking their strategy when that word rears its ugly head…

“Here it is, but it’s nineteen dollars”

My wife was recently bitten by one of these nasty Australian bush insects. We needed some ointment to draw out the poison so we visited our local chemist, and the interaction between my wife and the sales assistant turned out to be an interesting case study. It went something like this…

Customer: “I need some magnesium sulphate please.”

Sales Assistant: “Here it is, but it’s nineteen dollars.”

Just how was my wife supposed to react to this? The assistant’s tone seemed to indicate that nineteen dollars was rather expensive but neither of us had a clue on the price of ointment. Were we supposed to be shocked by the price? All we knew is that we had a problem in need of solving and we were looking at the solution.

Have confidence in your product and price strategy

This small incident really hammered home just how important the sales assistant is in the sales process. While there are always opportunities to sell up in any economy at any given time, there are also important guidelines that you should stick to. Below are my own rules of engagement.


  • Many sales assistants think a product is bought for 1 X and sold for 2 X so have a team meeting and explain how and why products are priced the way they are. Explain that the price on the product has to cover the buying of the product, the rent, staff wages, electricity and so on. You also need to explain that there is very little left in profit at the end to run the business.



  • Staff should offer the best solution they believe in when dealing with customers, regardless of price. They should then explain why they believe in this solution prior to mentioning the price.
  • When several products that do the same job are on offer, start with the one that offers the very best solution, followed by the cheaper options. Do not do this in reverse. Your aim is to sell the premium product – you wouldn’t stock it otherwise.
  • Explain to the team that every customer’s perception of price is based on their own experiences and not on the salesperson’s. I recently came across this in a retail sector that was selling products to customer who earned on average $120,000+ a year, while the stores paid young salespeople $20,000. As a result, the staff felt that most products on offer were too expensive, and they often sold down rather than selling up.
  • Train the team in body language skills. With my wife’s pharmacy incident, the salesperson’s body language let them down. Indeed, a lot of it was not because of what they said, but rather, the way in which it was said.Remember that retailing will only get tougher – or so say all too many media reports. The attitude of salespeople will therefore become more crucial than ever in the success of the business. Sell up until the customer tells you to sell down, and don’t make that decision for them.

    For more information visit