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The Sales ARC


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Ask | Recommend | Close (and Cross-sell) | See also


Here is a description and discussion of a simple three-stage retail selling method, as described by the CEO of Office Depot in Peters (2011).


Find purpose

Rather than just saying hello or otherwise simply greeting the customer, start with an open welcome question.

Hello there. What brings you in to MyStore today?

Listen and probe further until you know what problem they are seeking to solve.


Ask at least two questions to qualify the customer, finding exactly what they want so you can tell if and how you are able to serve their needs.

How are you planning to use this?
How many people is it for?
What has worked for you in the past?

Be careful about asking too many questions and keep it friendly. You do not want to sound like the Spanish Inquisition.


Use your knowledge of the products you stock to make a short list of recommendations. Three is a good number here. Two may seem too short and appear as an obvious alternative close. Four makes the choice harder.

Here's three that may suit you. Let me describe the differences between them.

When you are taking time to demonstrate and discuss differences, you are developing the relationship, building trust and also creating a sense of obligation as the effort you are putting in needs to be repaid by them buying a product.

Close (and Cross-sell)

Move to the close by asking for a choice and answer any outstanding objections.

It sounds like this one suits you best. Shall I wrap it or do you want to take it as it is?
...Yes, it is the most expensive but it does offer more of the things you want.

Once they have chosen and just before you take their money, try to sell additional items.

We've some good deals on supplies for this today. Would you like to take advantage and add some in?

It is important in all this to maintain a smooth flow towards the checkout, sustaining attention and handling concerns. It can help a lot if you believe in the products and assume that a sale will be made.

See also

Closing methods, Objection-handling, Assumption principle


Peters, K. (2011).  Office Depot’s President on How 'Mystery Shopping' Helped Spark a Turnaround. Harvard Business Review, November 2011.


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