Sales Horror Story
I’m going to share a recent retail sales horror story and then I’ll give you some tips on how this retailer could’ve increase sales by making it easier for the customer to buy.
But there are lessons in this story for service providers and even online businesses.
This last weekend, my husband and I visited a variety of flooring outlets. We needed some floor repairs and were also interested in new flooring.
The last store on our list was crowded with about 8 other couples and only two sales people. One is busy handling a return or an exchange. Whatever was transpiring, it was taking a very long time and seemed very complicated.
The other sales person – perhaps the store manager – was helping a nice couple and sharing his knowledge about the different types of bamboo flooring. He went on and on. He described the process used to create the browning in some of the bamboo samples, where different brands are harvested and how. He was a true bamboo authority.
The Sales Problem
He still had 7 other couples waiting for him or anyone to answer their specific questions. While he waxed on and on about the pros and cons of bamboo flooring with this couple, he was effectively turning off 7 potential customers – two of which walked out of the store after about 20 minutes of waiting for service.
We were one of those couples. We won’t return.
Stuff happens. I know this. There are times when retailers and business owners are caught flat footed with insufficient staff to handle the customer demand.
But there are ways around this.
The Sales Solution?
Make it easy for the customer to get information, to make decisions and to make a purchase.
Who does this well? Amazon comes to mind.
Amazon made purchasing pretty easy simply by storing credit card and mailing address information of the buyer and of people you’ve sent books to. But then they took it up a notch and offered the 1 click purchase. I’ve heard sales skyrocketed as a result of this very simple tool.
Yeah, but that’s for an online retailer. What about a brick and mortar retailer or a service provider? How can they make sales easier?
I’ve got several ideas on how any retailer or service provider can facilitate and increase sales.
1. A Defined Process – Every business owner should have a process already outlined as to how to handle a flood of customers when they are short staffed. And that process needs to be communicated to customers to minimize the fallout.
It could be a simple “take a number” or it could be defined by the audience (shoppers vs, customers).
Let’s return to our flooring example. Any customer to pick-up flooring should have been directed to a specific area with an explanation of how their order would be handled.
If it had been my store, I would’ve addressed the immediate needs of current customers first. They’ve made an investment in my business and I would feel obliged to respect that investment.
2. Clone Yourself – There are questions retailers and service providers hear over and over again. There are specific features and benefits of the products that need to be highlighted to customers. There are case histories, testimonials, applications, tricks and tips that every business owner can share.
While the personal touch is the preferred delivery method, there are many ways to share this information with in-store visitors without you being involved.
How? Here are nine quick tips. Some of these ideas utilize new technology while others are old-school. Your tool selection should be based upon your business, the type of information you want to share, your layout and your audience.
- Insructional video
- Digital displays
- QR codes for mobile users taking them to a mobile ready website with information options
- Point-of-purchase displays
- Informational packets
The point is you can use these tools to help you sell, educate, impress and distribute information when you don’t have the time to do so.
And you can use these tools in-store as well as online, so they can do double-duty.
The customer keeps themselves busy learning while you’re clearing the decks to service them. Wouldn’t that be preferred over watching a potential customer walk out the door never to return?
3. Automate and/or simplify where possible – We see major grocery chains installing more and more self-service check-out aisles. Our online purchases of books, gifts, music, apps, etc. are all automated.
The point is that the public is getting used to having automation involved in their purchases. It is more accepted.
But if you say automation isn’t for your business, then think of ways you can simply the process.
In our flooring example, there were at least three couples who had selected a particular type of flooring, but wanted a sample to see how it would look in their homes. The only way to get a sample was to try and get the attention of the one sales person and have him visit a back room eating up more precious time.
A page out of Home Depot would’ve serve him well. Having samples readily available for the most popular flooring would’ve addressed the needs of about a third of the crowd freeing him to service the rest.
There you have it. Three ways to help you increase sales through defining your processes, cloning and automation/simplification.
How can you make it easy for YOUR customers to buy. You should share your ideas below in the comments section.