Want to Improve Your Sales? Stop Selling Products!

Ever been to an art museum? You’ve probably noticed the somewhat sterile conditions, with quiet people, and staff members who watch you with eagle eyes to make sure you don’t get to close to the exhibits.

Now compare this description to your own store. If someone were to walk into your brick and mortar location, would they find a sterile environment with rows and rows of expensive products hanging on the wall, out of reach, with identical sale tags on each one?

And how would visitors to your store be treated by the staff? Would your employees look down their noses at anyone who didn’t meet their criteria of a “good shopper” and give off an air of intimidation that would scare away potential customers?

You’re a Retail Store, Not a Museum

When customers enter a music store, it shouldn’t be uncommon for them to see other people trying out the instruments. Similarly, if consumers visit a clothing store, they should frequently hear sales associates interacting with shoppers and encouraging them to use the fitting rooms to try on apparel.

The same goes for a camera store. Shoppers should be able to try out the products without having to approach an unsmiling, unpleasant sales associate who’s none too happy to be bothered about opening the locked-up camera cases. And no one should have to endure the hawk-like glare of that same associate as he watches them check out a camera as if judging whether they can afford it or not.

Has your store turned into a museum that sucks the fun out of the shopping experience?

Whether your customers are gardeners looking for a weekend do-it-yourself project, or they’re in need of luau supplies for a summer party, your job is to sell the experience, not the product!

Otherwise, The Retail Doctor points out, you’re nothing more than a warehouse full of stuff waiting for someone to come in and inquire after a particular item.

Learn to Sell Like Disney

The next time you see a Disney theme park commercial on TV, watch it closely. Notice how they don’t tell their customers that they sell theme park tickets or create films and other animations. Instead, they focus on creating an experience based on family entertainment.

“The greatest entrepreneurs don’t sell products, they sell an experience like fun, happiness, or a comfortable, inviting place to enjoy a cappuccino. What experience does your product offer?  ~ Carmine Gallo

If you can’t get someone excited about your products and services, they’re of little use to shoppers—or to you, for that matter!

Remember, sales is something you do with someone, not something you do to them. As a retailer, you have to make your customers feel like they matter when they walk into your store. Additionally, you need to create a sense of wonder about your product, as well as a sense of accomplishment that your product or service has solved their problem.

 “Customers are no longer buying products and services—they are buying experiences delivered via the products and services.” ~Gregory Yankelovich


Traditional methods of selling products and services are waning in the face of constantly evolving technologies that keep consumers informed about your products before you even talk to them.

You can no longer get away with simply listing off a set of features for your products or services. You need to sell the experience of using your products and services and how they will change the lives of buyers.

Museums definitely have their place, but it’s not in your retail store! Your focus should be on engaging customers in a way that gets them excited about what you have to offer and motivates them to take your products home with them or sign up for your services.

Good customer experiences will win over new shoppers, help you retain existing customers, and encourage sustainable growth for your business’s future.

Also published on Medium.

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.