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Baselayers and compresion | Selling tips | The Sweat Shop
May 2015

Selling more...baselayers and compression

Grant Bryant was nominated as a top salesman by Paul Copson, of Brand ID, because he offers all the key ingredients needed in winning over a new-age and informed customer. Bryant’s biggest attribute is his passion for what he is selling and informing each and every one of his customers. “He makes the customer feel like the most important person in the world. His personality is infectious, informative and fun and his amiable and easy-going nature immediately puts all the customers he meets at ease. Bryant’s structured approach to helping and solving customers’ problems, concerns and needs is awe-inspiring, and he does it in a clear and honest manner. He goes through a methodical process of suggesting, trying and testing his recommendations with the customer. If thereafter he still doesn’t have a clear answer, he will always refer the customer to a specific specialist to help, which gains the customer’s trust and ultimately a happy sale where the customer feels empowered through the time, effort and technical information he has offered,” says Copson.

There is no X or Y way of doing things when it comes to selling, says Grant Bryant of The Sweat Shop in Cape Town. “You need to treat the customer with respect at all times and never treat him like he is uneducated about a product,” he says.

He finds that consumers generally don’t have the same background as the salesman and walk into a store and ask questions that the salesman has heard a thousand times, but although you may feel like my goodness, again!, “just remind yourself that the customer is asking this question for the first time and he genuinely wants to know the answer, so treat them with respect and honesty,” he reminds.

Always be honest and open about products and give your honest opinion about the products you are selling. “Although the consumer might not yet know that the product choice is incorrect for him, he can consult Google and other stores and if you’re lying to a customer to try and make a sale, it’s bad ethics and nine times out of ten it’s going to backfire on you,” he says. He finds that customers walk into his store complaining that they’ve been to another store and asked for a specific product and the salesperson recommended XYZ, but from his own experience he knows the product is not the solution to the customer’s problem.

Don’t offer customers products based on your own likes or dislikes, but rather on whether or not you think it would work for them. Many customers ask him if he has tried certain items, or which brands he prefers, and because he uses many of the products himself, he is able to assist and recommend a product by taking into account the customer’s body structure and situational requirements.

Besides having personal experience with the products he sells, Bryant uses technical information the brands supply. This not only gives him the know-how, but also an idea of the target market to aim at, he says.

“I am fortunate to have a good relationship with the brands, and technical reps visit the store on a regular basis and actually explain the differences between the new products and their predecessors,” he says. His salesmen also keep notes of quirky questions that clients may have had, so when reps visit he can ask them to enlighten customers as well as himself and other staff members.

In his personal capacity, Bryant keeps up to date through various sites and blogs that offer information regarding products he sells. “These are really good as the people giving the information are extremely knowledgeable,” he explains.

As a salesman, cleanliness and hygiene are very important because customers don’t want to walk into a store and go to the salesman who looks like he hasn’t slept, washed or is wearing dirty clothes, he points out. “You shouldn’t judge people on appearance, but in a retail store environment, customers approach the salesman that looks neater and cleaner,” he says.

Respect personal boundaries. “You want to approach customers and be in a comfortable place,” he says. Don’t follow them around as it could annoy them, which may cost you a sale. “When a customer walks in, you need to acknowledge him by greeting, which lets him know you are aware that he has entered and that you are there to help if there are any queries or if he needs to know any specifics,” he explains. He also feels that you usually get an indication of what a customer needs just by doing this.

Above all else, as a salesman you should be polite and courteous because the customer is paying your salary at the end of the day, he adds.

More about Grant Bryant

Grant Bryant from The Sweat Shop in Claremont, Cape Town, has nearly a decade’s worth of experience in retail and has been working at this specialist running store since its Cape Town branch opened in 2011. Before then, he was the assistant manager at the Athlete’s Foot in the Waterfront and prior to that he was involved in the health and fitness industry. Having studied sport science, he initially worked as a personal trainer at Virgin Active for a number of years, as well as the fitness manager of a private health club in Stellenbosch.

Bryant’s background in personal training, fitness science, nutrition, sport massage, etc. gives him a good foundation and knowledge from an anatomy, physiology and a biochemistry point of view. In many instances he has had customers coming in with strange injuries and this knowledge aids him in identifying the cause of their problems.

Bryant’s move from the health and fitness industry into retail was motivated by a need for change. Because running had always been one of his interests he applied for a post at the Athlete’s Foot, but since joining he has also fallen in love with the retail industry. “Retail can not only be an enjoyable career, but a good career as well, if you’re willing to work hard at it,” he says.

Tips for selling baselayers and compression

When selling baselayers or compression garments, it’s important to identify the consumer’s reason for buying the product, his budget and the specific activity he is buying it for, says Grant Bryant of The Sweat Shop in Cape Town. With the wide variety of baselayers and compression garments available, this will help you pin-point the product best suited to your customer’s needs. The salesman also needs to know his products “and although he might not get it 100% correct, he’ll at least get it 90% right,” says Bryant.


With baselayers advise customers that buying one product to do different jobs is not the way to go. “Baselayers each have their own characteristics. Some will, for example, have sun protection factors or built-in UV filters, others will have different fibre compositions such as wool or lycra polynyamide, and there are also different blends that are better suited to certain activities,” says Bryant.

  • To keep warm and dry, you could recommend a wool or wool fusion blend, which contains elastane for stretch and polynyamide, which will help with wicking.
  • A baselayer’s weight is linked to the amount of insulation it offers. The customer should therefore choose a weight based on his activity. “Generally, a lighter garment will require less packing space than a heavier one,” advises Bryant. If a customer is going on a four day hike, where packing space is limited, he should use a lighter baselayer as it will save him space, but he has to take the conditions into account as well.
  • Elite athletes often sacrifice protection from the elements to save weight, but salesmen should remind customers that buying what popular athletes do, may not be best because they do not have the same technical ability, says Bryant. “If you run the same race, an elite athlete will finish in about four hours, whereas the ordinary runner may be out there for 12 hours and be exposed to a lot more elements during that time,” he explains. Although baselayer choice should take the customer’s elemental, environmental and budget allowances into account, there are certain character traits that work well for various sports.
  • For water sports like skiing or stand-up-pad- dling, a quick-drying baselayer is advisable as it will prevent chafing. Because you will most likely wear the baselayer on its own, one with a layer of UV protection is also recommendable for protection from the sun.
  • For hiking, recommend a garment that offers a layer of insulation that will protect your customer from potential cold or windy conditions. This would be especially useful for longer trips where conditions could change.

Compression garments

When recommending a compression garment to your customer, you will first need to determine if he is looking for pre-competition, competition or recovery compression, says Bryant.

  • For long endurance events, a competition compression garment can help slow down the rate of fatigue, because it increases blood flow to muscles that in turn increases the flow of energy and oxygen. It also reduces muscle vibration, which prevents energy wastage, explains Bryant.
  • Advise customers that tighter is not always better, as an ill-fitting compression garment will not perform its intended function correctly and may have adverse effects. “If you place too much compression on a specific body part you may risk preventing blood flow to that specific area,” explains Bryant.
  • Stock a variety of compression garments to ac- commodate the needs of a variety of customers. Salesmen should however note that in the South African market, it is difficult to sell expensive compression garments, because people are looking for lower-priced items. He has, however, found that competition and recovery products are more popular than pre-competition garments.
  • For recovery after training, a compression garment with a looser weave is better. Customers will not need a tight weave as they would for training, because they do not have to worry about muscle vibration, explains Bryant.
  • Compression garments may assist the wearer post-injury, but the customer should first seek medical advice to determine the extent of the injury, advises Bryant.
  • For travelling and sitting down for long periods of time, he advises a compression sock with mild compression.
  • Take note, however, that the full compression sock is not ideal for performance wear. In this situation, the salesperson should rather recommend a compression calf sleeve, says Bryant. “Not everyone who has a size 12 foot has a large calf and not everyone who has a size eight foot has a small calf, which could mean customers might not get a proper fit when purchasing a full sock. With a calf sleeve, on the other hand, you are able to measure the customer’s calf circumference and get the right fit for him.

Baselayers and compression garments’ fabrics are very delicate and need to be cared for appropriately in order for them to last. Remind customers to read the care instructions on the garment label, says Bryant.

  • Advise customers to purchase cleaning products that are specifically made for cleaning these products as they are an investment into the longevity of their garments.
  • Warn customers to never use fabric softeners with baselayers as they clog the garment’s pores, which could affect their functioning and deteriorate the fabric.

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