I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. His blog is one of the first I read every day. (He posts Every. Single. Day. and it is usually something quite thought-provoking.)
I’m stealing this from Seth, via the good Doctor Rick Wilson, who writes it this way.
- Delight people
- Solve their (interesting) problems
The more interesting the problem, the better.
Do the unexpected. Go above and beyond what any customer saw coming. That’s how you delight. Surprise them with an extraordinary level of kindness and professionalism. Do things they never thought possible.
SOLVE THEIR (INTERESTING) PROBLEMS
Customers choose to visit you for a reason. Most often that reason is to solve a problem. Mistakenly, we too often think they came to buy a product, but the reality is the product is simply their idea of a solution to the problem. When you know the problem, then you – the expert – can offer the best possible solution.
A person in a camera store isn’t buying a camera, he is buying a picture, a memory. Don’t sell the camera until you know the picture he really wants.
A person in a toy store isn’t buying a toy, she’s buying a tool or a gift. Don’t sell the toy until you know how the tool or gift will be used.
A person in a shoe store isn’t buying a shoe, she’s buying a lifestyle. Don’t sell a shoe until you know what lifestyle she needs.
There is a lot of fun in solving problems. When you look at sales that way, you will find your staff enjoys it far more than just “selling”. Teach them how to ask the right questions to find the true problem needing to be solved. Teach them how to look beyond the product into what the customer truly wants and needs. Teach your staff how to connect in meaningful ways to be partners in your customers’ solutions.
Do all that and everyone (you included) will be delighted.
PS Sometimes the solution is to send the customer to a competitor. That’s okay. Solve their problem anyway. Call the competitor and make sure they have what your customer needs. Have your competitor hold the item. Get directions if necessary. They will remember that and they will talk about you to someone who has a problem you can solve. Remember that every transaction is about one thing… earning the right for another transaction down the road.