Let’s face it – we live in a busy world. Most of us are overscheduled, pressed for time, and just plain tired. So, if that’s your customer base, what can you as a retailer provide your customers that will make you stand out from your competition?
Knowledge can be the key. Think about it. Customers come into your store, looking for answers. “ I need a product that provides . . .,” “I’m looking for a gift for a friend who likes . . . ,” “My children would love . . ., “ “I wanted to see if your store carried . . .,” “What do you have that’s new?” Fill in the blank but at the end of the day, we’d all just like answers. It makes our busy lives just a little easier and sends us on our way, fulfilled.
As a retailer, having a sales team and staff that can provide the right information to customers is invaluable. So, what should you know? What should your staff know? Where do you start?
- Know your Product: Today’s customer is sophisticated. We’re worried about ingredients, dyes, manufacturing techniques, allergies, and the location where something is made. Customers have questions and the sales person who has the answer will most likely win. Your team needs to know your products – what it does, who makes it, the benefits and the value to the customer. How will this product make their life better, even in a small way? Take advantage of your vendor’s expertise and training. Rely upon them to provide product information, company resources, even merchandising examples and diagrams so that your team knows everything they possibly can about the products on the floor. Conduct regular sales and product training sessions, especially if your product line tends to have seasonal influxes or changes regularly. Even if your product line doesn’t change regularly, have periodic product reviews, especially at the start of your busy selling time so that your sales staff is at the top of their game.
- Know Your Customer’s Experience: The best sales person is the one who can tell a story about another customer’s experience. People relate to other people – hearing how another mom used a particular product, her opinion and feedback is important. We love customer references. Look at Amazon and customer reviews. Think about popular websites like Trip Advisor that give real-life accounts of travel experiences. People want to identify with someone else’s point-of-view. As a retailer, you want ways to track what your customers buy. You want a staff that can engage your customers in their shopping experiences in your store. You want feedback – yes, even negative feedback – on the products you sell. Sometimes a negative experience is the best opportunity to keep a customer for life, especially if you turn that experience around. In a world of technology, ruled by all things digital and wireless, people still use the opinions and stories of others to sway their choices. Make it your job – and that of your team – to know your customers’ experience in your store and with your products.
- Know What You Don’t Know: It is absolutely impossible to know everything about every product. And, the worst thing your sales person can do is brush it off or give the wrong information. Imagine a scenario at a restaurant. You ask the waiter his opinion on two dishes – one, he has sampled; the second is new on the menu and he doesn’t know. You’re not going to order the unknown. How does this apply to your store? If a customer asks a question to which your sales person has no answer, what happens next? Can he offer to contact the manufacturer or your vendor representative? Is there a website to which he can go? Why not take a business card and follow up with the customer? If your sales person answers, “oh, I don’t know,” that sale is most likely lost forever. However, if your salesperson makes the effort to learn the answer, he’s engaged the customer, he’s learned something himself, and he has potentially saved a sale.
In a different scenario, if your sales person doesn’t know the answer to a question, but gives a false answer, the potential sale is in jeopardy as is the reputation of your store. If you’ve ever frequented a vendor, store or restaurant where you were told the wrong info – “No, you don’t need new brakes,” “Yes, that dress can go in the washing machine,” or “No, that entrée doesn’t contain gluten” and discovered it, you’ve probably never gone back. Even worse, it’s a story that stays in your head so you’ve probably told friends about your experience. Bottom line – there’s no harm in not knowing, but there can be harm in not wanting to find out.
Knowledge is power – it gives your store and your staff credibility, trust and a great reputation. Ensure your team is armed with information, facts and an understanding of your customer base, and your products will stand out from your competition. That’s an answer you’re sure to love!
Happy Selling! ~ The Baby Pibu™ Team