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Boosting Your Sales

Making a difference in the sale

Imagine the customer that has decided to purchase a new piece of equipment - it could be a pump, filter, or any other piece of equipment that you sell. As the prospective customer enters your business, what is the reason as to why he would want to do business with you? Or, put another way, what is the difference in buying the equipment at your store as apposed to anywhere else?

If you can write down a list of differences, then you have completed the first step in identifying why a customer would come into your business to shop as compared to coming into your shop prepared to buy. And if you can't list the differences, the customer surely can not. What can you do to enhance the shopping experience and improve your chances of making the sale?

Every person that purchases a product or service is making a decision based upon an equation. The shopping experience, and the decision to buy, comes from observing the price, the information provided by the salesperson (if there is one), the quality of the product, and the service rendered. When these four factors are added together, (quality + service + information + price) the answer represents the value of the shopping experience.

The customer then makes a decision as they ask themselves the question, "Is it worth it?" If the answer is yes, you are going to make the sale. If the customer says no, then they have decided your price is too high considering the quality, service and information you are offering.

Let's go through the equation for a customer coming into your store. If you have the lowest price in town, then you can allow the other components to be equally low. The customer understands, and will accept information, service, and quality being equally low. For this is the scenario which works in many stores. However, if you are not willing to operate on a low margin and strive to be the low price leader, then you need to look at the other factors.

With quality, you may or may not have an advantage. For if you are selling the same model of pump as a competitor, we are on an equal footing. And, if you do not have an advantage in quality, the price must be at or near the same as the competitor. Or to get the sale, the other two factors have to be higher to give the customer the value he is seeking.

Considering the "information" ingredient, your knowledge of the product or service may be exceptional. Remember though, you are not trying to impress the customer with your knowledge. You are trying to provide the customer with a comfortable level of knowledge about the product or service he or she is purchasing.

There is an old adage of, "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." An industry which frequently has a problem with this is the one that sells you computer software or hardware. Far too often, the salesperson begins to provide all of the technical information, and for most people is speaking at a level of knowledge which is far over the head of most customers.

The fourth ingredient is the service. Service begins with simply greeting the customer when he or she comes into your shop. You can be there to answer their questions, demonstrate the usage of the equipment, and even have a pool or spa in which the item is operating. When the customer has made their selection, are they going home with a piece of equipment that you have offered to come and install? Or, is it a piece of equipment that is still in the box; just like they would find at the competition? Even as you would most likely charge for installation, is it a choice that is available to the customer?

My father taught one simple rule of retailing; when the bear gets into the water to fight the alligator, the alligator usually wins. You can get into the water, (price war) and get your occasional victory. Or you can raise the level of the equation through quality, information, and service, and you will win the sale on the ground where the mass merchant cannot go.

Does this mean that all customers will now be willing to pay a higher price for an identical item? Or, that you can forget selling the same item which is their price leader? Absolutely not, but then again are you wanting the business of the person that is always shopping for the lowest price?

Offering a soft drink when the customer comes into your shop, being able to perform or at least resolve warranty needs, giving preferred service for repairs, offering to carry an item to their car for them, and being able to speak to the customer by name - these are the tools of the bear. And this bear wins, profitably.

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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.

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Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179