After collecting my daughter from school yesterday I headed to ‘town’ to make a couple of necessary purchases. I am not the type who shops for the sake of shopping. I was completely out of a couple of necessities: shampoo and foundation.
One of the local chemists stocks nice ‘posh’ brands of make-up. I had made my last foundation purchase there and I decided to head there first. I headed to the Christian Dior display, as that was the foundation I had previously purchased. (Stick with me men, we’ll be getting to the sales bit soon.) There was no one manning the cosmetics counter, so I proceeded to test a couple colours on my hand and picked one I thought suited. I was looking around for a tissue to wipe the splodges of make-up from my wrist, when a young woman came behind the counter. She didn’t approach me, but went down to the other end, where another woman was standing. She didn’t even look my way. She pulled out a pack of cleansing wipes and took one out. She didn’t pass it to me, she wiped her own hands. Then I approached her and asked for one. She didn’t really even offer one to me, I just reached over and pulled one from the pack. I then asked about the cost of the foundation. She said €40-something. Before I could say I wanted to make the purchase, in less than a couple minutes, she was gone from the back of the counter. She wasn’t attending to another customer, there were only a couple other people in the shop, she was just fiddling about with other items. I looked at some blush as I was thinking of purchasing some as well, but she didn’t come back to the counter. Instead she was chatting with a young man who came in to the shop, who didn’t look to be about to purchase anything. I decided to head to the next chemist shop down the street where I could just pick a bottle of foundation from the stand.
So thank you, young sales lady at the chemist shop, for saving me about €100; because I was about the purchase the €40-something bottle of foundation and a blusher and I probably would have decided to get that expensive Clarins face cream I love and who knows what else, if you had engaged with me.
AND I probably won’t bother going back into that shop, because it’s not the first time I’ve had this kind of treatment there. I will go back to the other chemist, where I do normally go anyway, and pick out my own make up and get service from the nice friendly ladies, who appear to give a damn, even if they may not.
After being completely annoyed and wanting to tell the World about this terrible deed done to me and poor Christian Dior, I thought about how this is a good example of bad salesmanship and perhaps I am sometimes guilty of doing similar things in selling my services. So thank you also, young lady for teaching me a few things about making a sale!
What were the poor elements of this sales transaction?
1) There was no one to assist or make a sale initially. Now, we don’t like pushy salespeople, but we do like to get answers and assistance when needed.
* Are you ‘there’ when a prospect is making first contact with your business?
* Does your website or social networking profile have clear contact details.
* Does your phone get answered? Do you respond to emails?
2) When a salesperson did arrive, she did not engage the customer. Even a smile in my direction would have gone a long way, but when she saw me testing colours, she should have realised she could easily have made a sale. Her move to the other person in the shop, who had arrived later and appeared to only be browsing, set my mind to thinking there was something about me which appeared less worthy to the young saleslady.
* Does your website ENGAGE your visitors?
* Does a visitor to your site know how to move forward (make an enquiry, make a purchase, etc.)? Does your site have clear ‘calls to action’?
* Do you interact and provide useful information? Do you use social media channels to interact with prospective customers?
* Do you provide content which addresses the needs of your target audience?
* Do you make your audience feel valued?
3) When I enquired about the price of the product, a very clear sign of a sale to come, the saleslady didn’t close the sale. If she had waited a couple of minutes or asked a question or gave more information on the product, the sale would have been made.
* Do you follow-up on good leads, or are you too busy and let them drop?
* When a prospect makes an enquiry do you give the bare minimum answer, or do you provide additional, relevant information which will help the person to make the decision to move forward?
* After a couple of emails, or another sign that a prospect is truly interested, do you pick up the phone and ensure the prospect has all the necessary information to make a decision. This further engagement is most likely to lead to a sale.
4) The young saleslady was either poorly trained/supervised, not given incentive to make sales or carrying out a poor attitude passed down from management.
* Is your staff, and all who interact with prospects and customers on your behalf, well trained — about your products/services, as well as in communication and selling — and given incentive to make sales (whether this incentive is a commission/bonus scheme or just to keep their jobs)?
* Do you INSPIRE your staff and others you deal with to strive to do what’s best for your business (great customer service, making the sale and all other day to day and longer term activities).
5) The saleslady and the shop didn’t appear to value existing/past customers. Selling to existing clients is easier and more cost effective then getting new leads.
* Do you provide incentives for current/past customers to continue their relationship with you? Customer loyalty days, discounts or just information about special offers and new products will provide opportunities to communicate with existing customers.
* Do you have a system in place, email marketing or postal direct marketing, to keep in touch with existing or past customers?
Businesses of all sizes have challenges in addressing these issues of salesmanship:
– Small businesses and sole traders are short staffed and stuck for time.
* If you don’t have a budget for support or dedicated sales staff, consider using a virtual assistant to answer phones and/or emails and to follow up on prospects and enquiries. Just make sure the person you are using is trained in what you do and has the right attitude and communication skills.
* Look at what questions are most asked and set up autoresponders for emails received and FAQ sections on your website so those that contact you can get basic information quickly.
* Determine which information is required in order to make a purchase, then be sure to ask for this information on your contact page, or even in an enquiry form, to reduce the amount of time going back and forth to get the necessary information.
* Many small business owners and sole traders are really good at what their business is, but not good at selling themselves or their products/services. Good selling is about good communications and building relationships, key skills for any good business person. You must work on these skills in yourself or find a way to get a partner or hire someone who is highly skilled in this.
– Large businesses have a large number of prospects and enquiries to deal with and sales and customer service staff may have less incentive to make sales.
* Make sure you have the systems in place noted above for dealing with questions which are most asked and the information required in order to make a purchase. You should have the resources to do this in a more refined way: details collected for a more personalised, but automated approach; more content on more channels of your website and social media networks, etc.
* Provide ongoing training for staff in communications, customer service and sales. This will give them the skills, but also show them that you are investing in them as people and reinforce these things are critical to the business.
* Lead your staff by example when you are dealing with prospect, current customers; as well as the staff themselves and all others who you deal with in your business.
Selling has become more about engaging with prospects and customers than about traditional old time used car salesman type techniques. This is why social media has become such a large part of marketing for businesses of all sizes, but it’s important to ensure your business is using social media — and the website and all forms of contact with prospects and customers — in the most effective manner.
Learn how to get more leads & sales using the internet:
Get Real Results with Social Media Marketing
11th October 2011, 10am-2pm Book Now
19th October 2011, 6pm-10pm Book Now
Click to see more upcoming Online Marketing Workshops
What are the challenges you are facing in making sales? Have you found any good ways of overcoming any of these challenges? Please share in the comments below.