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How to Tell an Amateur Retail Salesperson From a Professional

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article |Retail Salesperson|How to Tell an Amateur Retail Salesperson From a ProfessionalPerhaps, upon entering a retail establishment, you have heard one or more of these commonly used sentences:

“Hi, can I help you?”
“Is there anything I could show you?”
“Do you need anything?”
“Did you want to see anything?”

These are hallmarks of retail sales amateurs. Notice that all of these questions are invitations to give a familiar, too-often-heard, two-word answer: “No, thanks.” Variations include: “No, thanks; just looking,” and “All set.” No real questioning mastery here. Bottom line: No conversation. Which, to be fair, is an outcome the amateur is used to producing.

That’s how it is with questions that are built around words such as can, is, do, does, will, could, and should. Technically they’re called “closed-ended” questions. There may be a time and opportunity to use these types of questions however true professionals in retail sales do not use them to open a conversation.

You may have found yourself giving the same “No, thanks” response to any salesperson who asks you a closed-ended question. Notice what happens when you do. The protective defense walls go up immediately between the retail salesperson and the buyer. You are locked down. No one can get to you. Now, from this locked position of defensiveness, you will stay in say-almost-nothing mode. You may even make a misleading statement or two. Who knows?

Although you may assume you already know the reasons behind this defense, it makes sense to look closely at the motivations in play here. I believe customers raise this defensive posture to protect themselves from presumed manipulative behavior from the salesperson. They have a good reason for doing so: they don’t want to be sold to. This ties into a classic selling rule from David Sandler: “Buyers love to buy yet hate to be sold.” Food for thought.

Another example of amateur retail selling can be seen whenever you observe a pushy, highly assertive, and all-too-aggressive salesperson who sees one and only one potential outcome to a conversation with a prospect: Dollar signs. They say all the right things in an attempt to convince the customer to buy their stuff. This type of salesperson is everywhere. Take a moment to think more closely about what’s happening in such exchanges.

The salesperson manipulates. They cajole. They bombard. No matter what the customer’s reasons to buy, their approach is to say and do everything they can to convince the customer that their solution, product, or service has the best value, is the fastest, is the coolest, is the prettiest, is the most amazing.

This is not so much a conversation as a situation in which customers find themselves standing in front of an open firehose. These are amateur salespeople. But it’s worth noting that they can be very creative in their approach, using all kinds of information about what they are selling and even asking plenty of rapid-fire questions to accomplish the all-important goal of closing the deal.

Don’t let the presence of questions fool you — no nurturing is taking place. Although this may be a memorable experience for the customer or prospect, it might not be the ideal memory you want the person to share with friends and family.

But isn’t this what salespeople are supposed to do? Sell? The answer is yes — but the process of selling has to be mutually engaging and mutually beneficial for both sides. The firehose approach fails that test. Even though it may sometimes produce a close, you have to ask if it will produce a glowing positive recommendation to family and friends.

Remember: A customer who has had an unpleasant buying experience, due to a pushy, inattentive, or otherwise nurturing-impaired salesperson, will tell far more people about that experience than someone who enjoyed a positive buying experience! As we in the retail sector ponder the best ways forward from the current crisis, we should consider the possibility that an untrained, amateur retail salesperson may end up doing considerably more harm than good.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Rob FishmanRob Fishman is the author of RETAIL SUCCESS IN AN ONLINE WORLD: How To Compete – And Win – In the Amazon Era. He is an experienced Sandler trainer who plays an important role in Sandler’s worldwide organization. He currently heads a Sandler Training Center on Long Island, New York. For more information, please visit www.Sandler.com.

How To Make Sure You Stay In Your Customers’ Good Books Indefinitely

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Customer Relationship|How To Make Sure You Stay In Your Customers’ Good Books IndefinitelyHaving a great product that satisfies people’s annoyances, or creating a wonderful service that solves problems is obviously great. If you can do the job that’s required of you and do things swiftly, then you’re going to have more good days than bad. In business, however, it’s not just about doing the job on the day and bringing in the cash – you need to be able to keep the work flowing; you need to be able to make people want you again and again and again. You want to maintain your business for a while, and then build on what you have, after all.

If you can’t keep your relationships with your customers/clients healthy, then you may end up falling a little or going stale. You’ll survive if you manage to monopolize your market, but that’s not really how most verticals stay. Competitors will come along and take people away from you in an instant if you’re not careful. You need to stay perpetually in your customers’/clients’ good books. Want to know a few ways you can do this? Well, here are some for you now:

Work Hard For Them

If people see that someone is working hard at their craft, then immediate affection is thrown at them. We all appreciate a trier, after all. If you actually get off your backside and bother, then you’re going to be seen as a group that will do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Sitting idle and shrugging your shoulders when things get tough will not exactly boost customer satisfaction, will it? You need to show that you mean business at all times.

Don’t Make Constant, Quick, Dramatic Changes

People gravitate towards your business because they feel as though they can relate to it in some way or another. If they don’t and they still find you magnetic, then it’s because you’re doing something that they feel is correct. You should stick to the fundamentals of what you’re doing – that foundation is what got you to where you are now. Sure, change a few things, but don’t make massive alterations. It’ll more than likely upset the applecart and cause people to question where you’re going with things. They’ll wonder what else you’re going to shake up.

Focus Your Energy On Customer Experience

From the initial meeting onwards, you’re going to want to ensure you treat customers with the love and respect they deserve. Customer experience is absolutely massive in keeping relationships flowing. If you’re unfamiliar with the whole idea, then you can always read something like this guide to customer experience here. Basically, if you nail your interaction with your customer base at every single point, then you’re going to be in a much better position in the long-term.

Build On What You Have

This may sound like a contradiction regarding the idea of not changing too dramatically, but it’s not. You don’t need to move things around when you’re looking to grow. If you show that you’re ambitious and are looking to add more to your repertoire, people are going to be even more attracted to you. Wanting the best, and wanting to be the best is a very emotive idea for most.

How To Encourage Your Customers To Stay Loyal

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Loyal Customers|How To Encourage Your Customers To Stay LoyalThe money, time and effort that you put into building your business is always at risk. One day without the right number of customers could see your company suffer catastrophic failures, and that’s why it’s so important that you can take steps to attract loyal patrons that will support your business for the foreseeable future. Many businesses can find it difficult to retain customers and encourage them to shop again, yet it really doesn’t have to be this way. There are so many tips and tricks that you can utilise to ensure your business can thrive with repeat patrons that appreciate your service time and time again, and it couldn’t be easier to get started today! So, if you’re ready to find out more about how you can encourage your customers to stay loyal to your business, then read on to uncover some of the best steps that you can follow to see results in no time at all.

Quality Customer Service

It’s absolutely vital that you are able to offer the highest quality customer service to all patrons that come into contact with your business, as this is one of the key features that can influence whether you can secure or lose a customer. Perfecting your customer service skills is such an easy task, as there are so many training courses and guides or tutorials that you can utilise to develop your interpersonal skills and learn how to handle yourself over the phone, via email and in person. This training must be carried through to every member of staff that can come into contact with the public, as your customer service has to be reliable and consistent no matter what. If a customer feels unhappy with the service that they receive then it’s likely they will post a negative review, which can then influence whether other potential customers decide to shop with your business or take their money elsewhere. On the other hand, taking the right steps to provide excellent customer service will motivate happy patrons to leave positive reviews, therefore attracting other people to spend with you too. Customer service can seem like a difficult feat when you operate a business that works solely online, however there are certain techniques that you can implement that can really help in providing constant customer satisfaction.

Take Part In Regular Testing

Another essential activity that you must take part in to ensure that you can gather loyal customers is regular varied testing. You have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and use your service to identify whether you have to make any specific improvements, otherwise you will be completely honest the wiser to the faults that might litter your organisation. Gather a few different people, perhaps with varied responsibilities and backgrounds to offer a less biased insight, and test the different features and services that your business can currently offer customers. Collect each individual’s feedback on how they felt their experience went, and utilise this information to move forward and make improvements to increase your levels of customer satisfaction. There are also many other important types of testing that you can explore, including regularly examining the skills and knowledge of glue employees to ensure that they can stay in line with your business’s high standards. Always offer training opportunities and information to those who need it, and encourage an open atmosphere in which employees can share their issues if they should ever have any. As well as this, learning how to understand and assess your SaaS customer health score can aid you in identify some of the downfalls that your company may be experiencing, as it can offer an in depth look into when and potentially why your customers decide to leave your business. There’s no point in gathering all of this information if you’re not prepared to act on it, so it’s important that you can utilise the data that you collect to make improvements and progress to provide a better standard of service.

Encouraging customers to stay loyal has never been so simple when you are able to make the most of the top tips and tricks detailed above! Start off by focusing on the customer service that you provide, ensuring that you and your staff have all of the right training, knowledge and interpersonal skills that are needed to offer the best quality experience. Always take part in regular testing to ensure that you can identify problems and seek solutions in super fast time!

5 Ways to Show Customers They Are Valued

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Valued Customers|5 Ways to Show Customers They Are ValuedA satisfied customer is all well and good, but if your customers do not feel as if you value them, you could be facing an uphill struggle for consistent growth. A customer who has bought from you in the past is up to 70% more likely to buy from you again, whereas new prospects may only convert at 20%. It’s not a question of whether or not you should be making your customers feel valued as, without happy customers, you do not have a business; the question is whether you are doing enough to make them feel valued. You must go beyond delivering customer service and take steps to build and nurture trusting and lasting relationships while recognizing them as individuals, not as sales.

Here are five ways you can show customers that they are valued and improve your relationship.

1. Respond to and engage with customers

We all know the frustration of trying to get in touch with a brand and waiting days or even months to get a response. You may feel that you are too busy and push them to the bottom of the list, but when you consider that customers are the lifeblood of your business, this is crazy. Whether you’re a startup with no staff or a huge corporation with thousands of employees, you can make time to reply to your customers in business hours. When you receive messages on social media, positive and negative reviews, or comments on your blog, use it as an opportunity to open up a conversation and show them the human side to the brand.

2. Establish a relationship of trust

Your customers need to have confidence in your brand, which does not happen instantly. If you are considering two products and one salesperson has bombarded you with features, benefits, and prices while the other has taken time to ask you questions about what you are looking for, which are you most likely to trust? When a customer trusts a brand, they are more likely to return to that brand in the future.

3. Try to get to know them

Brands and customers are closer than ever before, and much of this has been made possible by social media platforms. We can get to know people in a very personal way through social media interactions and digital marketing analytics, which will tell us where they are in the world, their gender and age, their interests, their profession, and even their relationship status. With this information, you can tailor not only your marketing but also your product development to reach them on a much more personal level. Find out how to use social media for market research.

4. Give your brand some humanity

Humanizing your brand is incredibly important when it comes to building positive and meaningful relationships with customers. You need to maintain yours professionalism, but allowing your brand’s personality to come through can help to deepen the brand-customer relationship. Customers will see you as more than just a money-making machine and be more inclined to engage. You can do this very effectively through social media such as sharing profiles of your team or behind the scenes photos. You could also give your product packaging a handmade, personal finish with crafted labels using letter stencils or a handwritten note of thanks.

5. Thank them

This leads on nicely to the final but crucial tip – thank you, customers, as much as possible. Whether you include thanks on a contract or invoice, on a written note with the product, in an email, or on social media, you need to make sure that you acknowledge how important your customers are to your success.

Building Better Relationships with Your Customers

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Customer Relationships|Building Better Relationships with Your CustomersIn the modern world, relationships are more important but more complicated than ever. Social media means that we form relationships with people that we’ve never met. It means that we feel connected to our favourite celebrities and brands, even without contact. Communication is available in many different forms, and it’s easier than ever before to get in touch with people.

But it is fast-moving. Our social media feeds are changing at lightning speed, our email inboxes are filling up daily, and even though it’s easier than ever to send a message, it’s often harder to convey meaning without face to face contact and easier to be overwhelmed and miss things entirely. It’s easier than ever to talk, but it’s also easier to be misunderstood and harder to hear.

This can make it very hard for businesses. Today’s consumers expect relationships with the people that they shop with. They don’t just want to be able to make an easy purchase. They want communication, relationships, advice and responses. They want to be able to ask a question at any time of day and get an immediate reply.

For a smaller business without a large team to help, this can prove tricky. You might be wondering How Connected Are You As A Business? In this modern world connectivity is everything, and building relationships with your customers is more important than ever. Here are some ways that you can begin to improve these relationships.

Make Sure It Is Easy For Them to Get In Touch

Everyone uses social media to communicate today, right? Well, actually no. If your target market is primary people in their teens and twenties, they might, but even then, chances are they are using newer platforms like TikTok instead of good old Facebook. If your customers are older, they might still prefer to speak to you over the phone. Every now and then you may even receive a letter.

It’s impossible to know how people prefer to communicate. You can do your research, but even within demographics, the results can vary wildly. The best thing that you can do is give people options. Make sure contact details like your phone number, email, address and social media channels are clearly displayed on your website, but also in any offline marketing materials and on invoices. A simple contact form online can also be hugely effective. Make it as easy as possible by giving your customers options, and make sure you respond to all types of communication, not just those that you prefer to use.

Always Follow-Up

Follow-ups are important. Generally, customers won’t get in touch if there’s a problem, and they are even less likely to get in touch if they are happy with products or services. They walk away from your store, or checkout online and you never hear from them again.

Have a business policy to follow up sales, enquiries and other communications within a certain time. This can just be a quick email or call to make sure everything is going well and to ask if there’s anything that you can help with. This not only boosts relationships, but it also gives you a perfect opportunity to ask for feedback and a chance to make further sales.

Make Customer Service a Priority

Customer service is the most crucial ingredient when it comes to building positive relationships with your customers. It should be something that you insist upon from your staff, and that you spend time training in. Go the extra mile for customers when you can, greet them warmly in-store and take the time to get to know them. Customers should always leave your store happy, with something positive to take away, even if they don’t make a purchase.

Online, customer service is just as important. An easy to use website, fast transactions, easy to find information and clear policies go a long way. Clear communication, fast replies, and a personal touch, with a handwritten note with purchases, or a personal thank you online can also help.

Value Honesty Above All Else

Honesty is so essential when it comes to building relationships and offering excellent customer service. If something is wrong, or a delivery is going to be late; If you can’t deliver the product or service that has been ordered, or changes need to be made, you need to be honest about it.

It can be tempting to hide away when something is wrong, out of fear of letting people down, or conflict. But, most of the time, people would much rather know the truth, and they’ll respect you more for being honest with them. You are more likely to damage future relationships by lying, or not saying anything at all. As soon as you know that there’s a problem, think of ways to make it better, get in touch with your customers and offer them some alternative options. Being proactive like this can even turn a negative into a positive.

Be Realistic

Being realistic is a big part of being honest. You should always aim to under-promise and over-deliver. It’s much better than the other way around. Don’t promise to deliver the next day if it’s not feasible. Don’t offer great deals if you can’t keep it up. Give your customers realistic expectations and set yourself realistic goals, and it will be easier to keep everyone happy.

Ask for Feedback

You can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. Your customers won’t always want the same from you, and you would drive yourself mad, trying to give absolutely everyone what they want. But, knowing what they want is a great start. Ask them. Ask your customers what you are doing well, what you could improve, how they feel about your relationship, how they like to communicate and other basic questions. You can do this on social media, with an email survey, with poles and even face to face.

Appreciate Them

Asking them for feedback is a great way to make them feel valued and appreciated. Another is simply saying thank you. Loyalty schemes can be another way to boost relationships and acknowledge loyalty.