questions of your customers to make a sale
Ask Why" was the slogan for an advertising campaign for a beer
manufacturer, but it was also one of the ongoing themes of our in-house
training program. We made a point to include several articles about
this in our monthly newsletter that we sent to our customers each
month. Suppose a customer walks into a business and asks to purchase
a product. What is the first question to be asked of the customer:
Size, color, price, type, or any of a number of questions that relate specifically to the product?
"What do you want this product to do for you?" By asking
this question, and depending on the answer, there is perhaps another
sale. If, for example, the customer is purchasing paint because of
a problem that he or she wants to cover, selling the necessary prep
work will make sure that the paint you are selling will stay on the
ceiling, walls, or floor. If you ignore the problem that exists, you
can fully expect that when the problem recurs, the customer will be
back. And their questions will probably center on what you are going
to do about the "bad paint" that you sold them.
"why" is part of how you can distinguish yourself from other
businesses. When a customer goes to a business, does that person go
to buy, or to be sold?
depends on the type of business. Going into many convenience stores,
you are most likely going to buy. Probably, no one is going to greet
you or start up a conversation. They won't be suggesting products
for you to purchase. Only the point-of-sale merchandise display that
the manufacturer has developed, or an item stacked on the checkout
counter has a chance of getting you to purchase it when it was not
on your initial shopping list.
stores combine the need for you to buy, and the opportunity for them
to sell. If you walk into one of the mass merchandisers, you probably
have gone to their store with the intent of looking for one or more
items. After all, their stores are traditionally not in shopping centers,
so going into their store makes this type of trip a "destination
shopping trip." Yet when you are in their store, are there people
making an effort to speak to you? Not just to handle the cash register
or carry the product to your car, but actually conversing with the
your store is a "destination shopping trip" or part of a
"convenience shopping trip," if they are coming in to buy
or look, what happens? If your business is there only for those who
buy, there is little need for salespeople on the sales floor. Why
not have a cashier and one or two people to answer a question?
are not going to be this type of store, we need to see what is the
difference between your store and the mass merchandiser. Do you have
a better price image? Do you have a larger store with more selection
and depth? If not, there should be something that will distinguish
you from those stores whether you are a destination or convenience
you and all of your team members will have the opportunity to sell.
Not hard sell, but solve the customer's needs. If the customer is
going to spend $20, your effort should be in getting that $20 spent in your store. Your education
has to concentrate on product knowledge and service as well as asking
the customer if he has seen the new product that has just arrived.
newer team members say the customer states he is "just looking"
when he comes into the store - then the team member sees a more experienced
team member making the sale. Did the customer know who the rookie
was and politely answer "no" so that he could get to a more
experienced team member? Perhaps so. Realistically, few customers
walk in the door and want someone to take them right to a product.
Have the initial greeting to only be a welcome. Being the second or
third person to say hello to a customer did several things for our
it distinguished us from the stores that had a greeter only at the
front door. Second, we allowed the customer a brief period of time
to come in and become acclimated. Another person would engage the
customer in a non-sales-oriented conversation. The "ice"
was broken and now the team member can begin to do what he was hired
to do - sell merchandise.
why? Because, for most of us, that is why we hired that team member.
And if not, is your customer asking himself why he is bothering to
come to your store to get the same level of service that the mass