Beyond (A)lways (B)e (C)losing
Several of us at Terra grew up in the audio business of long ago. We spent our formative years taking care of customers in fondly remembered audio stores, a retail concept certainly on the wane today. Because there was substantial consumer interest in getting the best audio performance for the money, salesmanship was top priority. The best sales people were educational consultants. Amazingly, many of the systems sold in those days are still in operation today, although some may not be used very much.
This brand of consultative sales wasn’t entirely unique to the audio business, but was quite strongly represented in the field. You could be fairly confident that asking a question would get you a knowledgeable and worthwhile answer whether you were shopping for speakers, an office chair or pretty much anything else.
Today, not so much.
Sure there are exceptions to the rule in some retail venues. A substantial part of Apple’s retail success has been the Genius Bar, and the fact that the sales staff is actually fairly well informed about the products and services they sell. The sales staff is very helpful, far beyond what is typical of retail environs today. It is ironic that the advanced technology Apple store is reaping the rewards of treating customers like they used to be treated in most stores.
Here are FOUR TIPS for improving the performance of your sales team:
- Up your knowledge game: In order to stand out, your staff should constantly be working to ensure their product and system knowledge is up to date. It would behoove your operation to research competing products too. This will help you understand the benefits your product and services offer to your clients compared to the competition. Clients trust knowledge, and they spend where they trust.
- Offer value-added communication: To understand your value, clients need to understand what you are offering. Communicating useful information to the client in a non-intimidating and non-confusing manner is essential. It is key to remember your clients are most interested in the benefits that you and your chosen products offer, not a line listing of features. And at the top of the list should be superior performance, simplicity of operation and reliability.
- Adjust your attitude: While they cliche “The customer is always right” is not always true, the customer is always the customer. They are the lifeblood of your business and vital to your continued success and growth. A happy, well-regarded, highly attended-to customer will almost always send you referral work, giving you the opportunity to make more happy customers. Even when the customer is wrong, try your best to accommodate their needs and desires, as long as it doesn’t severely compromise system design or installation. Try to gently correct misconceptions, but not at the expense of your relationship. In most cases, reasonable compromise is—well—reasonable.
- Keep up to date: Throughout the consultative and installation process it’s essential to keep the client appraised of the progress you’re making and any issues that arise. Without overwhelming them with technology, make them a part of the process and they’ll be much more connected to you and the final result, and be less likely to feel let down by unclear expectations.
Your customers should be treated like the kings and queens they are. Everything from your printed proposal materials to the written instruction you give them during your final meeting as you turn over the system to them should represent your professionalism and let them know how important they are to your company. The result will be happier clients and more referral business for you.