By Ron Kustek
We’ve all heard people say products are “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 though sales is the result, the No. 1 focus of every owner, manager and employee should be on helping customers.
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 different enough, or what if it’s not what the customer wants or needs?
Sometimes helping customers takes 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 they are interested in.
They go on about why we should buy 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 learning 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 likes?
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 they are 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 that help the restaurant reach its daily goals.
You may be answering the phone at 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.
And make sure you’re keeping an up-to-date database on each of your customers. If you already have every sales transaction linked to a customer, based on what they bought and when, then you’re on your way! If you need a program that helps you capture this information so you can run reports as well as reach out to your customers via email or text, consider SQUARE.
This company provides extremely competitive credit card transaction processing and mobile payment apps, plus for an additional low monthly fee, provides easy to understand customer management tools for you to analyze sales, repeat customers, lapsed customers, promotional responses and even more! Contact SQUARE at 855-700-6000 or online at www.SquareUp.com
The point is, 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 former senior marketing executive of The Coca-Cola Co. and serial-entrepreneur who is currently a business instructor at Cabrillo College. Contact him at [email protected]