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Think about how much money you spend with advertising. For the average business, it is between two and three percent of gross sales. This is the same two to three percent that the average business creates for a net profit.
Yet, with the advertising, think about the response you get; ask the newspaper, radio, magazine or television salesperson to tell you how big their audience is. Usually, they are thrilled to do this as they are proud of the broad expanse of their viewers, listeners, and readers.
Going back to the response, if the local newspaper says there are 20,000 people reading your advertisement, and you were able to capture the attention of only 3% of the readers, then 600 people would be in your store asking to see the item you had advertised. (This is not too likely to happen)
We are not trying to talk you out of advertising, but instead to show you a couple of other ideas that have been known to work much better.
Those of you who read this column every month, know this writer is a big believer in educating employees. One of our favorite techniques has been to have a bi-weekly one hour session in which we discussed products, sales techniques, as well as discussed store operational concerns. The other favorite technique which we learned from Jack Rice, a speaker at the SHOT shows, is to have a daily 10 minute warm up meeting in which everyone gathers, without sitting, in one area of the store, and opportunities and concerns are quickly covered.
In one of the trade magazines directed to restaurants, we once saw an article which gave some great ideas for managers to demonstrate to their waiters and waitresses.
It detailed several ideas, when incorporated by the person waiting a table, would substantially increase their tip. The list was fairly simple, and easy to accomplish. Squat down so you are looking the customer in the eye as you take their order, write "thank you" on the bill, touch the customer on the hand or shoulder as you greet them; try these or any of another half dozen and you can expect your tip to increase by 10% or more.
While you are not reading this article for ideas of running a restaurant, there are several ideas which are similar and will increase your sales by a multiplier factor over any advertising. Take notes, and remember to share these with your staff.
A customer comes into your shop and is looking for shells. This customer is not only someone who is "just looking", but through your conversation, you find they are a novice with their rifle, shotgun, or revolver. How do you get the "just looking" customer to become a buying customer?
As you are asking questions about what type of shells they have used, you believe you have found their interest in a type of shell they have not previously used. Take the box of shells, hold it out as if to give to the customer, and wait for the customer to take it in his or her hands. As they do, pull your hands back so that the customer can not hand the box back to you.
You will find when the customer takes the box into their hands, you have just increased the chance of making the sale by 14%. You see, by getting the box into their hands, you have created a sense of ownership of the shells with that customer. If they decide they do not want the shells, you are now requiring them to place the box on the counter. It is now harder for the customer to put the box down, and with that your sales go up.
Want to go a step further? When this or any other customer has made their choice, you can increase your sales by 19% by asking one simple question. "Is one enough, or would two be better?" Now that you have asked the customer to reconsider, nearly one in five will decide to take the second pack or box.
There are several other techniques, while we do not have statistics for them, work very well in moving a customer from a looker to a buyer. One is to simply ask questions.
Beginning with, "What type of gun are you looking for?" to "What type of gun have you had before?", each question tells you more about the customer and what they are wanting.
If you answer every question they have with another question, they will provide you with the necessary insight to removing each and every objection they have. As you go from type, make, size and other related questions, you will move the customer to cash, check, or bank card, which is the conclusion of the sale.
The technique also works for customers asking for items you do not stock. "When do you need it?" Or, "Would you tell me why you selected that brand?" These questions allow you to revive the possibility of the sale. For if the answer to when is, "by Christmas" you can surely obtain the item by then. As for the brand, when the customer tells you why a brand is selected, you can quickly find the similarity with a brand you stock and insert a comment of, "If you like (name) brand for that reason, then you are really going to enjoy the brand we chose because ..."
Advertising can be great. But sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. Whatever the result, we rarely know how we got the results. But providing the basic sales techniques, and a few add-on features, we move to a sure thing, and assumed sales become sure sales.
This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.