I have a new game I play when I walk into a retail establishment. I try to guess the “emotion” that store is selling based on the look of the store, the approach to the store, the front door, and what hits me when I walk through the door.
One store I went to was selling “disgust.” There was trash all around the front door. There were old, faded, torn signs in the window. There was an ashtray right by the front door and the staff obviously used that location to smoke while on break.
As I mentioned before, retail is a game of managing emotions. The last thing you want is a customer who feels scared, frustrated, or disgusted walking through your front door.
Have you ever had a serious discussion about emotions with your team? Have you ever looked at your store through the lens of “emotion?” We did all the time when we talked about our Smile Stories.
Now, when I play my game, I try to think about not only what emotion the store is selling but what emotion they should be selling.
Did you ever wonder why insurance companies build these beautiful buildings with waterfalls in the lobby and nice brick facades? They are selling Security and Peace of Mind. They are selling Trust. How trusting would you be if your agent was in a run-down double wide at the end of a dirt road?
If you’re a shoe store, depending on the type of shoe, you might be selling Confidence or Performance or Comfort. Does your store design echo that concept? Does your staff embody that ideal through their dress, actions, and attitude?
If you’re a grocery store you might be selling Fresh or Healthy. Does the store look Fresh or Healthy? Are your signs up-to-date? Are your displays neat and clean? Nothing undoes a grocery business more than the feelings of “old-and-stale.”
Clothing stores have lots of options for the emotions they could sell including Comfort, Joy, Confidence, Relaxed, Hip, Elegant, etc. The trick is to develop and train a staff that exudes that emotion.
The same is true in my new role working for a vendor. If I want HABA USA to be known for the high-quality products we sell, then everything we do from our catalog to our website to the displays we create for our retailers has to be done with the same high-quality standards. Our team has to be one of high-quality, too. Extra training, extra knowledge, and extra care must go into every hire.
One of HABA’s strongest traits is Caring. In my short time on the team I’ve been able to see it in several forms such as how our products have multiple levels of design to give children the most opportunity for growth.
I’ve seen it in how HABA cares for the environment by only sourcing wood from sustainable growth forests, by only using non-toxic, environmentally-friendly stains and finishes that exceed safety standards the world over, and by using renewable energy sources at their factories.
I’ve seen it in how HABA gets involved in organizations like ASTRA and the All Baby & Child Expo serving on boards, offering sponsorship, and lending expertise.
(Since one of my Core Values is Helpful, can you see why I was so excited to have this opportunity?)
No matter what you’re selling, at the core of it, you’re selling an emotion. The better you align with that emotion, the better your sales.
Roy H. Williams said it best, “We use logic of the mind to justify what the heart desires.”
Sell the heart.
PS Sorry if this felt like a plug for HABA USA. I’ve been studying all the lessons I learned as a retailer and applying them to my role as a vendor. As you can see, the principles are still the same.
PPS It is hard to overcome a negative emotion. In a couple days the brewery where I would often play guitar will be closing. When it first opened three years ago, they didn’t have everything up to the standards they are today. I had several friends who never came to see me play because they had a negative experience early on. As hard as the brewery tried, it couldn’t overcome the early impressions. I will miss his beers and whiskies.
Emotion is extremely important when I’m shopping. One emotion I felt in a store that I visited recently was “disinterest.” I went in looking for something, and not only was I unable to find it, but the staff seemed disinterested in assisting me to find either what I had come for or a suitable alternative. Could it have been a bad day at that store? Sure, but I’m not going to go out of my way to go back. It’s the same with restaurants – we have “our” Red Robin because we know and like the staff and the atmosphere is, “you’re welcome; we’ve got dinner,” while at other locations the vibe isn’t as nice so we don’t give them our business.
As a teacher, this also applies to my classroom. “How would I feel if I walked through that door today?” is a question that I ask myself sometimes as I prepare for the day or week. It helps me to get my mindset right, and also to adjust seating arrangements or materials in the room.
Oh I hate that indifference!!
John Gattorna at MacQuarie Graduate School of Management published a report showing that 68% of the customers lost by a business were lost due to “Perceived Indifference”. If you’re gonna be ignored in a store, you might as well go to Amazon. At least there you expect to be left alone.
Absolutely this applies to being a teacher, too. No, the students don’t always get to choose which classes they take, but you’d be a fool if you thought emotions didn’t play a role in how much they learn.