Best seller: Natalya Voevodina, Econika
24.08.2013 20856

Best seller: Natalya Voevodina, Econika

Natalya Voevodina made a bright career, going from a full-time seller in a Mosobuvtorg store to the director of nine Econika shoe cassettes. This was largely helped by her attitude to the sales process: Natalya is sure that if each purchase is treated as a deal in which one can show oneself as a true pro, then the work turns into a constant process of improvement. Vera Kolerova, a Shoes Report reporter, talked to Natalia Voevodina about what skills a shoe seller needs and what a manager should do in order for these skills to appear.

- Natalya, how did you get into the world of shoes?

- By chance. A friend offered to work in a shoe store, which was located on Rublevka and belonged to Mosobuvtorg. Then it turned into the first Moscow salon "Econika". So I got into the world of footwear unexpectedly for myself, although if you look deeper, then perhaps my arrival in footwear had some “generic” reasons: my mother once worked as the manager of a large shoe warehouse in Moscow.

- And how did you feel about your profession? I worked in trade for some time, but I realized very quickly: if a person does not want to be a seller, then he becomes a bad seller.

- And at the same time tortures not only himself, but also those around him. Irritation cannot be hidden, and you cannot force yourself to bring people joy. You have to love your work. After all, you can take out boxes of shoes so that it will be beautiful. I had no protest, denial of myself in this profession. At the time when I started, the Soviet foundations in trade, rudeness, disrespect for the buyer, a situation in which the seller felt like the owner and manager of the sovereign's property began to recede into the past. A new era was dawning in trade with the well-known motto “the buyer is always right”. And I really liked these processes. It was damn interesting for me to live: the rhythm of life itself was very fast, there was no time for problems and reflection. We worked late, and after work I ran away to study - I studied at the trade and economic technical school. At 12 I got home, in the morning I went back to work ... Huge load, but I liked it. Once I had a problem with my leg, I was in a cast, but I still went to work, just to be there. I took a taxi and forward. I was drawn to work.

- What did you learn in terms of sales at that time?

- I always say: in order to sell, you need first of all openness. In our store it was easy - people who lived in the neighborhood used to go there, for them the store was like a home, and someone rarely came from outside. We did not have any discount cards or other marketing links at that time: the buyer became your regular customer simply because you advise him competently, you are friendly with him. Then I realized that you need to communicate with the buyer as with a friend, you shouldn't be afraid of him. Probably, in those days the foundations of the unique warm atmosphere were laid, which I try to create in the salons in which I work.

- And the conflicts?

- Happened, but it is inevitable. I was not a very experienced employee then, so I asked the manager to intervene. And now I advise young sellers to do this, who often simply do not know how to get out of the conflict, where to stay. The buyer must always be sure that any conflict will be resolved not at the level of a bazaar conversation, but in a qualified manner. It is not his fault that he has a problem with our products.

- How did your career develop further?

- After working as a seller, I became the head of the section, then the manager. In essence, the duties did not change, but the position sounded differently, more modern. The most interesting stage began when I began to work in the Evropeyskiy shopping center and manage a staff of 30 people, huge by my standards - sellers, cashiers, storekeepers ... A completely different flow of buyers and revenue than on Rublevka, the former home atmosphere disappeared, but a team appeared that needed to be united, organized, the team that listened to you. The work was insanely interesting. I tried to make sure that even “on stream” a high level of service was maintained, and for 5 years of work at Evropeyskiy I had very good results.

- How did you manage to achieve these results?

- I talked a lot with sellers, conducted trainings, tried to influence them psychologically. I tried to make them understand that just mechanical politeness to the customer is not enough - people immediately feel when you were taught to behave this way, but it does not come from the heart. A simple example: even if you serve five customers at the same time, you can always turn around, meet your new customer's eyes for a second and say: hello, I'm here with you, just now I'm busy with another customer, but I see you and will be ready to help. And the buyer will understand that he is not abandoned. Often sellers do not do this, because no one tells them about it, and they do not understand how important it is for visitors. It is also very important that the buyer is not abandoned at the moment when he tried on a pair, but it did not suit him. At this moment, leaving it means losing the sale: you definitely need to offer the person something else, after all, he is determined to buy, but in a shopping hall filled with people, he may not notice other interesting models on the shelves and quickly leave.

- And now, when you manage nine Econica salons, how exactly do you manage to work with sellers?

- I conduct trainings for senior salespeople. It is very important to do in-depth work with them, because they create the atmosphere in the salon. They should work in such a way that the buyer, even if he came unhappy, leaves with a feeling of joy that he made a purchase right here and a desire to come again. The senior seller must constantly monitor the situation and prevent such that no one can approach the buyer, he must feel when a conflict is brewing and be able to prevent it. A senior salesperson is required to be close to all salespeople and provide assistance at all times. During trainings, I specifically describe in detail the image of a senior salesperson: he must have such qualities as responsibility, honesty and purposefulness.

- Do you use educational films or other supporting materials at trainings?

- Lectures, films and other materials are used in trainings held by Econika's head office. And I more often pull up weak points in our sales, if I see them. For example, I can notice that our bags are not selling well, because the sellers simply do not know how to competently offer them to the buyer. It’s not very easy, because the buyer doesn’t want anything extra, he came to buy shoes. How to offer bags and do it so as not to embarrass and irritate the buyer? For example, if a customer says that she needs shoes for a certain set of clothes, you can say during the conversation: pay attention, we now have a new arrival of bags, maybe you will like something. But this should not be intrusive: you do not need to rush to pick up a bag for some clothes or shoes.

- How to draw the line between personal service and obsession? Your salespeople are sure to say hello, ask how to help?

- The buyer should be given time to look around. You cannot jump up to him, but it is simply necessary to say hello, and this can be done from any psychologically comfortable distance. Phrases "Can I help you?" not in our arsenal, because this is a closed phrase that makes you want to refuse. We ask: "What interested you?" You can clarify which season a person is interested in - he will most likely answer this question, and it will become clear what exactly he is looking for. The main thing is that a dialogue will begin, but it should be easy communication. I also recommend sellers to greet the buyer and immediately say: "Pay attention, we are currently running a special offer." While the buyer is walking around the salon, he will consider this offer, and then he will not have to waste time looking for promotions or favorable terms of purchase.

- How to find a good seller?

- You can start small. Quite often people already at the interview ask the question: "What is it, I have to greet each customer?" If such an answer sounded, it means that the job of the seller is not for this candidate, unless he wants to learn to be friendly - there are such examples. The seller must also be sincere.

- But it is difficult for a seller to be sincere, he cannot tell the buyer, for example, that this model does not suit him. Willy-nilly you are lying….

- A very delicate question. On the one hand, in no case can you tell the buyer that the shoes do not fit him - this means discouraging him from buying at all. The customer is not your close friend to whom you can tell the “bitter truth”, which is subjective in any case. If a customer asks you directly whether a model suits him, this means only one thing: he needs the last push to cast aside all doubts and buy. Saying no is making a gross mistake. On the other hand, if you see that a person is in search of an interesting model, and you offered him shoes, and he tried them on and asks if they fit him, you can say: let's see something else, and you are sure that - you will find yourself. You have to listen to the buyer, ask leading questions.

- How is this possible with a large flow of visitors?

- Sometimes a couple of questions are enough for a person to open up. But even if the buyer refused to help, the seller can step aside and make it clear that he is there and ready to help at any time. The buyer will understand that they are not being imposed on him, and when he has questions - and this is almost inevitable - he will definitely turn to the seller. At least this applies to the female audience. Men are less willing to receive consultations: among them there are indeed those who are inclined to come, try on and leave. A woman, for the most part, wants to communicate, and in the background the "creeping line" should sound how beautiful she is and how everything fits neatly on her. And in no case should you say phrases like “You made a good choice, I bought myself these!”.

- Is it possible to make direct compliments? For example, not “what a good choice” but “you look great in this”?

- Yes, this is only welcome. But in any case, praise should be appropriate. If these are evening shoes, then you can say "you look gorgeous." And if the shoes are for every day, then it is better to note that these shoes will be comfortable and the customer will not feel heaviness in the legs by the end of the day.

- Do you have male salesmen? It is probably most convenient for them to say compliments ...

- Yes. Recently, there has been a whole stream of guys in the shoe business. Maybe the times are passing when trade was not considered a man's business ... In "Evropeyskiy" we have almost all sellers - boys. Many girls and ladies enjoy being served by men. Men have a more formalized approach to work. And if girls are more interested in kits and colors, assess what suits the buyer, what his style is, then the boys are ready to listen and follow instructions. They want to know exactly what to say, how to offer a product so as not to offend ... But they don't go into details.

- The profession of a seller in our country is somewhat reminiscent of the profession of a waiter: many do not plan to stay in it for a long time, they consider this occupation as temporary.

- We look for and hire other people. Our sellers have been working for years. After all, in a short time you will not understand what a job in a shoe store is, let alone become a professional. Unless you learn how to take out boxes. I believe that you need to take people who are determined to have a long career in the shoe industry. We at Econika do not experience a large turnover of staff, we have a stable company. So far, only two salespeople have left me - one girl in another place was offered a higher position, and on the other I had to say goodbye: we talked to her and realized that it was better for her to choose another direction. She really found herself a good place in another field and is very happy.

- How do you motivate sellers?

- First of all, career opportunities. But not everyone wants this, because any career growth means responsibility.

- What personally helped you in your career? Probably, there was competition from colleagues….

- There are many professionals in our company who have worked for many years and were no less worthy to take my position than me. But the management chose me, and this is their decision. What helps me? Probably the desire to know your work from start to finish, to delve into all the little things. And the desire to develop, learn something new. Now I want to get a second degree in management. I already have one thing - I graduated from the All-Russian Correspondence Financial and Economic Institute. Now I am interested in new trends in management and marketing, for example, coaching. I have subscribed to updates of the Business Youth project, I take some thoughts from these guys. They talk about simple things that, nevertheless, for some reason do not come to mind.

- Would you like to start your own business?

- With my experience, I would probably be able to open a shoe salon, but I like working at Econika.

- You have a very busy schedule. Are you not afraid of the syndrome of "professional burnout", when workaholics lose interest in work due to excessive workload and lack of balance between work and rest?

- No. Firstly, those who do not do their job and overwork only for the sake of money, or because their bosses compel them to "burn out" usually. They get bored and hard, and they demand more and more from them. I am lucky: I enjoy the results that I achieve with my team. I not only give my best, but I also feel that the spent energy is returning to me. This is due to constant career growth, I do not "sit out" in one place. And, secondly, I know for sure: in order to work intensively, you need to rest. Therefore, I go on vacation without fail twice a year, and I try to spend more time with my family. Family is something that should never be forgotten. She needs to be given as much attention as work.

Natalya Voevodina made a bright career, going from a full-time salesman in a Mosobuvtorg store to the director of nine Econika shoe cassettes. This was largely helped by her attitude to ...
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