Saturday, May 22, 2010

Engaged Customers Buy Experiences… and then buy again

Selling products effectively involves learning about customers, learning background information on the products, and then putting that information together to educate customers. What the staff says -- through words, tone of voice, body language and overall energy -- speaks volumes to the customer.

Let's start selling the experience, instead of just selling the products.

Selling The Moment, Tip No. 1: Prepare for Customer Challenges

To be an effective salesperson, pretend you are the customer. What challenges am I facing today? What items will I find in this store? What items will I avoid because I don't know how to use them? What items will I not find, and when are more expected to arrive? Have at least two specific products in mind when you're helping a customer who's looking for recommendations.

Selling The Moment, Tip No. 2: Engage your Customer

I follow Ritz Carlton's advice:
"Always offer a warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest's name, if and when possible." In other words, extend yourself, ask questions. Get customers talking, and then actively listening to what they say. Hint: the opening line, "Can I help you?" almost always engenders the reply, "No, I'm just looking,"It's always much better is to ask open-ended questions. In addition to the words that come out of your mouth, you need to engage the customer with action. Come out from behind the case and stand facing with the guest so that you can look at products together.

Selling The Moment, Tip No. 3: Taste Drive Performances

Samples, low-risk demonstrations and hands-on workshops let a customer buy the experience, not the product. "I see you're here looking at olive oils. Would you like to try a slice of our olive loaf made with this very oil? Now, what questions can I answer for you about olive oils?" At worst, you've educated the customer about a product. At best, you've introduced them to a new favorite. When making suggestions, keep your tone of voice helpful and always follow the customer's lead. If they are responding positively to your suggestions, and want to play along, let them! If not, take a step back and ask more questions.

Selling The Moment, Tip No. 4: Be a Champion

Customers want confirmation that they made a good purchase (especially if it's a gift). One of the best ways to validate product selections by giving short but meaningful "testimonials." Stories and factoids provided during the initial interaction significantly increases the chances that they will purchase the product. "Mmmm. Pecan raisin bread. Did you know there's over half a pound of pecans and raisins in every loaf?" or "We import this olive oil direct from Italy, so it's an exclusive."

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