By Ron Kustek
Does Everyone In Your Company Know How To Sell?
We’ve all heard of something ‘flying off the shelf’ or that ‘it sells itself’. For those of us involved in any small business on a daily basis, we know these sayings just aren’t true. Whether you’re selling coffee or clothing, you likely have daily targets for sales that you’d like to reach or exceed. And since those sales don’t just happen, the number one focus of every owner, manager and employee should be selling.
Selling is a little like dating — there are lots of choices out there for people, so why should they choose you — i.e., your service or product? You may have the best “X” with the highest quality backed by the greatest service at the most competitive price — but what if that’s not what the customer wants or needs?
Sometimes selling takes on the form of target practice. We’ve all been in situations where a well-intentioned sales person starts telling us all about something that they’re excited about or what we may be interested in. They go on about why we should have it, how it will make us feel or look — all the while not even knowing if we either want or need the item, which we may have just casually glanced at or picked off the shelf to look at for some reason.
I like to eliminate the word ‘selling’ and instead replace it with ‘helping’. And part of helping is knowing what your customers actually need help with — is it a decision based on price or convenience, or are they looking to take a selfie with an item that will get them attention? The more we ask questions that help to uncover what a potential customer is in the mood for or actually looking for, the greater the likelihood that you’ll be able to help them with their purchase.
People who go to a restaurant are obviously hungry — but how hungry are they? If we only ask some questions with a smile, like how hungry are they or what they’re in the mood for, or even if they’ve been here before and had a favorite dish – it gives us more information than walking up to a table and blandly asking ‘how can I help you?’ We may be able to help them experience a new dish, or an additional appetizer, or desert, or, iced tea instead of tap water – all higher-margin items, which help the restaurant, reach its daily goals.
You may be answering the phone to a spa that offers massage and facials. Asking the person on the other line a few helpful questions about what they’re wanting to experience may uncover that they’re now considering making a visit to your location more of an event, more of a special occasion, or perhaps a celebration. Engaging with them on the phone to ask if they want to bring a friend along where they could get a couples massage together in the same room — just doubled your purchase transaction, and more importantly, helped the person with more of an experience that they’ll be looking forward to and talking about long after they’ve enjoyed the day at your spa.
The point is, that unless everyone in your business is focused on learning more about your customers by actually talking with them and truly listening to what they’re saying and telling you, then you’re not optimizing each and every opportunity to truly help someone or provide the best customer experience, as both will help you reach your #1 priority: sales – the result of listening to and focusing on the customer!
Ron Kustek is a Business Instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California.