The Secret To Selling

I went to MAC today to get a lipstick. I told the lady the colour I was looking for. She looked at me blankly and said that the colour is sold out, and then walked away. I stood there in shock. To me, it seems automatic to either tell me where I can get the lipstick I am looking for or sell me something else because I am a sure thing. It is obvious that I came in there to buy. 

I hate hate hate shopping in stores. I will literally buy everything I need online, because I cannot stand bad customer service. I refuse to let some undeserving store clerk get my hard earned money. I would rather order everything I need from the comfort of my own home, so I do not have to deal with the frustrations of bad customer service. Don’t get me wrong, if you offer me exceptional customer service, I remember and I am willing to buy everything you throw at me; As a marketer, I can truly appreciate good selling. I will even take the time to fill out a survey or write a review because it is so rare, especially in Vancouver, where every server, store clerk and customer service representative expects a hand out for adding little to no value to the customer experience.  

I did have a very positive customer experience this same day. I bought a sweater from Nordstrom, being the indecisive consumer that I am, I had buyers remorse and decided I should probably go with another colour. I called Nordstrom, the lovely gentlemen on the phone introduced himself and asked how he could help me. I sheepishly told him that I am a terrible person and instead of having this sweater in burgundy I would like to stick to my monochromatic roots and get it in grey. Nothing but kindness came from the other end of the phone. He instructed me that it is not in stock, but they do have one at another store. He mentioned that  there is a new service that will ship it to me at free of charge and it will arrive at my doorstep in a few days. I asked him a million questions because I am the worst at making decisions. He managed all my objectives, and instructed me that I can hold on to both sweaters and see which I like best. He told me it is completely up to me, I can return one, or return both or keep them all, it is up to me. He dismissed all my comments about being a nuisance and said simply that he just wants me to be a happy customer. It is obvious, this guy truly believes in his product. This automatically put a smile on my face and I thought to myself, I need to visit this gentleman in store and buy many more things since he put all this effort into my measly sweater purchase.   

Selling is not about being cheesy or pushy, it is about being a guide. You are the representative for the product or service you are selling. It is your job to help guide it into the hands of people who need or want it. The formula is quite self explanatory, there are certain steps that need to be ticked off, which will lead to a successful sale.

Know Your Customer

As a marketer it is important that we identify our target market. Sales is not different, each individual has to be sized up for the sale. Asking customers a few basic open ended questions can teach you a lot about what they are looking for. Search for visible queues, wedding rings, time of day for their visit, if they feel rushed or relaxed. These can all mean different things, but you can only tell by striking up conversation. Wedding ring could mean they are buying for someone else. Rushed people want to get in and get out, where as relaxed people want to take their time and be able to explore all the options. An individual wearing designer clothes with logos usually prefers flashier things. 

Make it Personal

Think of ways to identify with the consumer and make them feel special. Ask their name and introducing yourself is a good first step. I know this can be a little annoying. I went to Eddie Bauer once and the stores clerk Kelsey asked me every five seconds if I need help and then said, “Well I am Kelsey, if you need anything!”. After a while I wanted to yell, “Kelsey go away! I am browsing! Still didn’t call ya!” Yes it is tough to find the balance, but it is important to at least acknowledge the person’s existence, introduce yourself and give them some space. 

Know Your Product or Service & Your Industry

If you have no idea what you are doing, the customer knows. Being knowledgeable and knowing your product is the only way you can add value to the customer experience. You have to know what else is out there and where you fit in the market. When I go to a store like H & M, I know what to expect. It is fast fashion, new styles arrive probably on the daily, so I don’t expect any of the sales representatives to know anything about the stock or where it is in the store. When it comes to larger ticket items, I need my sales representative to be credible and actually know what they are talking about. I need them to know the competition, know the differences between products and ask the right questions to find the right fit for me. Don’t try to sell me a mini-van, if I don’t have a family.   

Be Helpful Even if it Limits the Sale

It is easy to twist the truth and trick someone into buying something they don’t want. However, what often happens that the person will return the item, they don’t trust you and they aren’t likely to seek you out for a future purchase. In my experience the consumer will be appreciative of your guidance, even if you aren’t able to offer them what they are looking for. If you can tell them where they can get it and offer the solution that they are looking for, they are usually grateful. They will remember how you treated them and perhaps suggest others come to see you or remember you when you do have something they need. This has happened to us at my real estate job so many times. People remember us ten years down the road, when it comes time to sell their home.

The Follow Up

The follow up is the most important part of the sale. If I bought a sweater, I probably don’t need you to give me a call the next day and ask me how I liked it, but for larger purchases, this is essential. I have been with companies who have bought an expensive program or service, after they sale, they received literally no support or follow up. The sales person is long gone, unreachable by phone and we are left feeling completely dissatisfied with our service. We are now speaking with a technical individual who instructs as that the sale associate had no idea what the programs capabilities are, because they are just in sales, so we cannot actually use it for the purpose we had intended. Of course, I won’t go out of my way to trash the companies, but when asked about them, I can’t lie and say good things. I definitely wont be handing out referrals. When you offer exceptional customer service, your job is that much easier, because guaranteed the customer noticed and they want to send more people your way.  

Selling is all about listening to the customer and deciding what it best for them. Most of the time the customer as no idea what they want. It is like a puzzle, when you know your product and get to know your customer, it is easy to make the right match. All you sales people, please take notes. 

Vancouver based lifestyle blogger. Visit my blog and discover travel guides, fashion tips and recipes.

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