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Author: Phil Wrzesinski

Phil Wrzesinski is a Retailer, Speaker, Author, Golfer, Singer/Songwriter, and Klutz Kid who enjoys anything to do with the water (including drinking it fermented with hops and barley), anything to do with helping local independent businesses thrive, and anything that sounds like fun.

Did Nike Make the Right Call?

Legendary UCLA basketball coach and hall of famer John Wooden had several rules for his teams. One of them was no long hair and no facial hair.

“One day, All-America center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. ‘It’s my right,’ he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. ‘That’s good, Bill,’ Coach said. ‘I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We’re going to miss you.’ “  -Rick Reilly “A Paragon Rising Above the Madness”

I have always loved that story. Sometimes, to “have strong beliefs and stick by them” will cost you. Are you willing to make that sacrifice?

Image result for Nike 2018 just do it colin kaepernickThat is basically the heart of the new advertising campaign by Nike that features Colin Kaepernick with the slogan …

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.”

Not only is that their campaign, it is what Nike itself is doing. The company has taken a hit for this campaign. Stock prices have dropped. People are threatening a boycott of the company. People are making videos showing them burning and destroying their Nike clothing.

The funny thing is these protesters are doing the very thing the ad purports. They are sacrificing ever buying Nike clothing because they believe so strongly against Mr. Kaepernick’s form of protest.

But I’m not here to talk about the politics. Let’s explore instead the decision Nike made to release this ad.

TAKING A STAND

The ad itself is about taking a stand. Nike had to believe there would be short-term backlash. I also believe they will see those gains comeback in multiples. Why? Choose who to lose.

Advertising is interesting. It works primarily like a magnet. Its ability to attract is in equal proportion to its ability to repel. In other words, for every person out there burning a pair of shoes, there is someone else lining up to buy Nike that wouldn’t before. I saw one post on FB from a friend showing the ad. He wrote one word … “#nikeforever.”

Nike is betting on a large segment of the population becoming more engaged with their brand because of their stand. Millennials and Gen Z are two generations who want to know where you stand, and will use that to influence where they spend their money.

One more thing to understand … Nike never actually endorses Colin’s protests, only his willingness to sacrifice for his beliefs. While not everyone will see it that way, many do notice the subtle difference.

NOT AS BIG OF A RISK AS YOU THINK

The other thing at play here is that general public opinion favors the side Nike has taken. According to a 2017 Seton Hall Sports Poll, 84% of Americans believe it is okay for NFL players to protest. 49% did express that the players should find a different way to protest, but that means 51%, or a slight majority, are okay with what Kaepernick has done. I am pretty sure the Nike advertising team knows those numbers and are willing to piss off a handful of people for a chance to more strongly attract the other 84%.

Plus, when you look at the demographics more closely, the number of athletes, especially African-American athletes, who support the protest is even greater. At the end of the day Nike is an athletic apparel manufacturer. Appealing to athletes at the expense of others is a smart marketing plan for an athletic apparel company. Choose who to lose.

WINNING WORD OF MOUTH

Another positive for this campaign is the way it has gone viral. I’m talking about Nike. Every news channel is talking about Nike. Bloggers all over the world are talking about Nike. Social media is sharing the ad by the millions. Nike has probably now received enough free advertising exposure with this campaign to pay Kaepernick ten times over.

The only question left is to see how strongly are these Nike beliefs and how much is Nike willing to sacrifice in the short run to stand by these beliefs (and the gains they will make in the long run).

The lesson here is that it is okay to take a stand. In fact, the two youngest generations who will be influencing most of the spending over the next couple decades are looking to see where you stand on issues. But you have to do it smartly. Nike took a stand that aligned with their Core Values and more strongly attracted their base customers. Back in March I gave you this post to talk about when you should take a stand. Read that and you’ll see how Nike’s decision to include Colin Kaepernick in this year’s Just do it campaign makes even more sense.

Although Colin Kaepernick probably wouldn’t be allowed on a John Wooden team, I believe John Wooden would have admired him.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The only thing that would make this Nike campaign better, in my opinion, is if the company aligned its own business practices with the same slogan. While founder Phil Knight vowed to clean up the company after reports in the 1990’s of child labor and sweatshop conditions, reports and protests of sweatshops surfaced again a year ago.

PPS Although Nike doesn’t like to see anyone burning their clothing, they probably took into account the fact they have contracts with dozens upon dozens of colleges which will keep some of the demographics of the protesters still in their camp. I doubt too many hardcore University of Michigan fans are going to drop Nike completely. Maybe they’ll cover up the logo, but they already paid Nike for the shirt. I predict Nike’s stock will climb back up by early next year after a strong fourth quarter in sales. They also took into account that many people shop for shoes without a care in the world of the political leanings of the company. Athletic apparel is also a fashion industry. If the fashion fits, people will buy it. If the shoe works because of fashion or design or fit, people will buy it.

PPPS You should see some of Nike’s other ads in this year’s Just do it campaign. From an advertising stance, I love them.

“Attracting Millennials” and “Ten Mistakes:” Two New Free eBooks for You

I have a file on my computer named SCHEDULE. It has every schedule I ever created for the Toy House staff dating back to the fall of 1996. That was the year my dad turned the hiring, training, and scheduling of the staff over to me. In 1997 I hired my first Millennial. Granted, the term was still in its infancy, and the defining characteristics of this new, emerging generation born between the years of 1981 and 1996 (according to The Pew Research Center) or 1982 to 2000 (according to the US Census Bureau) were yet to be labeled.

Regardless of the years (or labels) you use to define “Millennial,” in the twenty years from 1997 to 2016 I hired, trained, and worked alongside dozens of people from this generation. I even raised a son born in 1998 who falls under the US Census Bureau’s definition, and while I laughed at all the jokes and negative stereotypes given to this group of people, I knew many of the older guard were missing something.

I often run into people who hear the word Millennial and automatically think Lazy, Self-Absorbed, Selfish, Entitled, Snowflake.

Yet in 2005 when I was called for a job reference for the first Millennial I ever hired, I told the employer, “If you don’t hire this person, you will be making one of the biggest mistakes in your HR career.” She was one of the hardest, smartest, most intrinsically motivated people I have ever known. She just celebrated her thirteenth year with that organization.

What is funny to me is all those negative stereotypes assigned to Millennials were previously assigned to Gen X, and before that used to describe the Baby Boomers. I think we tend to look down on the younger generations and never believe they work as hard as we did. Do that at your own peril.

If you are looking to hire or sell to Millennials, instead of looking down your nose at them, I suggest you look up to what they aspire and meet them there.

They don’t have all the answers, but they are asking some interesting questions that we all should be considering.

Questions like …

  • How do I live more Eco-Friendly?
  • How do I create a more Sustainable world?
  • How do I stay out of Debt?
  • How do I avoid falling for the Hype?
  • How do I help the Collective to grow?

If you want to attract this generation and all their spending power to your store, you need to help them answer those questions and more. You’ll find plenty of ways to do that in my new Free eBook Attracting and Selling to Millennials on the Free Resources page of my website.

(PS The eBook is great, but this is one presentation where the live version is so much more mind-blowing than the print version. Contact me to schedule a time to talk to your team or organization.)

 

The other new Free eBook is called Ten Mistakes That Sideline the Sale. This is strictly a Customer Service book that focuses on some easily correctable mistakes we all make. Some of them are mistakes we make thinking we are offering Great Customer Service, when really we’re killing the mood. Some of them are mistakes that happened to me just this past weekend.

If you’re looking for simple things your team can correct that will immediately affect your bottom line, you might want to start with this list. Pick one or two to work on each month and you will be pleasantly surprised at how many more repeat and referral customers you’ll get this holiday season.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You might be wondering why I give these away for Free. Heck, I don’t even make you subscribe to my blog to get them. One reason is that I have subscribed to several blogs myself just to get information, and while I get some information, mostly I get email after email trying to sell me something to the point that I am afraid to subscribe to anything new.

I don’t want to be that person to you.

Another reason is that I want you to succeed. If the point of writing this blog is simply for me to make money selling stuff, then it doesn’t fit with my Core Values of Having Fun, Helping Others, and Education. The point of this blog, my website, and my purpose for Phil’s Forum is to help as many small businesses as possible. The money will take care of itself.

Finally, while I know you can bypass the whole concept of paying me to be a speaker or coach and just download all this content, I also know by hiring me you get an experience and information that goes far beyond these three to six page eBooks. In the live presentation you get this information tailored to your specific industry. You get context and relevancy and tips and ideas directly related to what you do day in and day out. You get the chance to ask questions, get clarity, and expand the topics to fit your needs. These eBooks are simply the notes from presentations, written generically to fit the most possible industries. They are reminders for those who have sat through a live presentation, minus some of the stories you’ll never forget that drive home the point but take too much ink.

PPS One last thing … I also know not every independent retailer has the budget to hire a coach or go to a big retail conference. If you’re in this category, you deserve to have access to this kind of information as much as the next person. Consider me a library. Borrow as often as you’d like.

How to Push for “Yes” (Without Being Pushy)

I remember being in a presentation where the speaker told us that the average retail store only closes two out of every seven customers, and that five out of seven walk away without buying. As I was researching for a new presentation I did a couple weeks ago at the Independent Garden Center, I came across some numbers that were disheartening.

That conversion rate is getting worse.

According to ShopVisible, LLC conversion rates for typical brick & mortar stores are now only 20%, two out of ten instead of two out of seven. (Online is less than 2%.) Eight out of ten customers are walking out of your store having said, “No.”

The scary thing is that at least eight out of ten walked through your door hoping to say, “Yes,” yet somehow you let them down. Why do I believe that many wanted to say Yes? Most independent retailers are destination stores. You don’t sell milk, eggs, and bread. You don’t sell diapers and formula. No one had to walk through your doors. They chose to walk through your doors, hoping to find a solution to a problem or be enticed to buy something they didn’t yet know they needed.

You let them down.

You let them say No and didn’t take the steps necessary to turn it into the Yes they wanted to say.

I have just published another FREE eBook in the Free Resources section of my website called How to Push for Yes (Without Being Pushy). If you want to see your conversion rate and sales go up, you’ll want to download and read this eBook several times. If you want to see more happy, satisfied customers walking out your door, you’ll want to download and read this eBook several times.

If you want to teach these principles and ideas to your front line sales staff, you’ll want to read the rest of today’s blog post.

(Hint: download and read How to Push for Yes (Without Being Pushy) first. It will help the rest of this post make sense.)

NO, I DON’T WANT IT

To overcome this objection you have to go back to trying to solve the customer’s problem. You need to ask more questions and get to the heart of the matter. The QUESTION GAME from The Meet and Greet is a great place to start.

Another game is the PARROT GAME. The goal of this game is to work on listening skills. Pair off your team and have them each tell a fun story about themselves to the other person. Then get back together as a group and have the person who heard the story relate it back to the group. Do it a second time, but this time have the person hearing the story repeat it back line by line as it is being told. When they return to the group a second time, they find their memory of the story and their accuracy of retelling it both go up dramatically.

NO, I CAN’T AFFORD IT

Often the reason for this objection is the customer doesn’t see how the item will truly Benefit her. Playing the DUTCH AUCTION from Assumptive Selling is one way to get your staff more attuned to offering Benefits instead of Features.

Another activity is to have the staff identify the items that cause customers to balk at the price the most. Then work as a team to find ways to raise the Perceived Worth of the item either through better signage, better displays, or simply coming up with better Benefits.

NO, I CAN’T MAKE THE CALL

Since Analysis Paralysis is often the culprit for this particular No, play the BEST SOLUTION GAME from The Meet and Greet. The better you solve the problem, the more likely she will justify the purchase (and ask for forgiveness instead of permission).

NO, NOT RIGHT NOW

Once again, the customer is not seeing the Benefit of owning the product. Work with your staff to find the Benefits that truly speak to the customer for all of your top products. (Read the post Closing the Sale with Assumptive Selling.)

NO, NOT FROM YOU

One big reason for this No is the fear a customer has of paying too much. She is going to check it out in your store and buy it cheaper online (in theory). We call this Showrooming. If this is the No you are facing, you’ll want to download the FREE eBook Selling in a Showrooming World that talks about the two types of customers, their motivations, and how to appeal to each one based on their needs and desires.

THE SILENCE GAME

Here is a simple activity you can do with your staff that serves double-duty. While discussing any of the topics from the past three blogs, ask your staff an open-ended question. Let them answer it freely without having to raise their hands. When they have answered it, don’t say anything. Just sit intently quiet, staring at them for one minute. Count to sixty in your head if you need to. At some point within that minute someone will start to talk again and the discussion will continue. Afterward explain the concept of White Space and show them how easily it worked. You’ll not only get a deeper discussion from the second go-around, you’ll be able to make the point about letting the customer talk to really get to the heart of the matter.

GENEROSITY

What can you give away for free without expectation of return? Show them the Johnny the Bagger video and then ask them for ideas. This might take two meetings before you get really good ideas worth implementing.

Recognizing and embracing the No is the path to Yes. When you empower your front line sales staff to push for that Yes in the ways described in the eBook How to Push for Yes (Without Being Pushy) you’ll see your conversion rate rise. Think what would happen if you consistently turned just one of those eight Nos into a Yes. Yeah, that’s growth we all could live with.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Here’s a little food for thought … Most customers feel good when they walk out of a store having made a purchase. Most customers feel bad when they walk out of a store and haven’t made a purchase. Wouldn’t you rather have happy customers who feel good? That’s why you want to turn that No into a Yes. It is as much for them as it is for you.

PPS I have two more new FREE eBooks I’ll be publishing in the next few days. I’ll have the training idea blogs for you at some point next week. Happy Labor Day!

Closing the Sale with Assumptive Selling

Our realtor turned to us and said, “Now, where would you put your couch in this room?”

Immediately we started mentally arranging the furniture in the house she was showing. By the time we had visualized the family room, kitchen, and office we were ready to write the offer.

Visualization is the key to getting a shopper to move from gathering information to making the purchase. Realtors know this technique. You should, too.

I have just posted a new FREE eBook on the Free Resources page of my website titled Close the Sale with Assumptive Selling based on the presentation I did for the Independent Garden Center Show a couple weeks ago. The eBook shows you how to get customers into Visualization Mode and also shows you other smart things you need to do at the close of each sale to help your customer solve the problem that brought her into your store.

Today’s post talks about how to teach these concepts and techniques to your front line and sales staff.

(Hint: you should read the eBook Close the Sale with Assumptive Selling before reading the rest of this blog. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

FINDING THE BENEFITS

If you have ever been involved in sales training you have heard about Features and Benefits. You have to show the customer the Features and Benefits to make the sale. While I agree wholeheartedly with that approach, the real problem is that most sales people spend all their time on the Features without showing the true Benefits. Why? Because Features are easy to explain. The packaging often tells you everything a product does. Benefits are a lot harder to determine, especially because the Benefit for one person might be completely different than the Benefit for someone else.

DUTCH AUCTION

The best game I ever played with my staff to get them to think about Benefits was a “Dutch Auction.” I broke the staff into teams and asked each person to pick three items off the shelf. Each team ended up with a dozen items. Then I would call out a Benefit. The team had to bring me one item from their collection and explain to me how that item offered the prescribed Benefit. If they were successful with their explanation, they got a point.

Some Benefits you can use are:

Show me an item that …

  • Saves a customer time
  • Makes a customer healthier
  • Keeps a customer from having to bend over
  • Helps a customer feel smarter
  • Helps a customer feel stronger
  • Will make all of her friends jealous

This game gets your staff into a different mindset away from just what an item does, but how that will help a customer.

A Feature is what an item does. The Benefit is why that is important.

Another quick way to get your team up to speed on the Benefits is to bring your top ten new items to the next meeting and have the staff brainstorm all the possible Benefits of each item. Write up the list after the meeting and give a copy to everyone.

COMPLETING THE SALE

Have a contest at your next meeting. Have each person pick one item off the shelf. When they bring that item back to the group, explain the importance of Completing the Sale. Then send them out to collect every possible item related to the original item that a customer might need. Once they return, tally up the prices and reward the person who had the highest total. (Note: if no one has Completed the Sale to your satisfaction, send them back out with a total amount they have to reach. This will stir their creative juices.)

Follow up: Have each person create a checklist for their item of the complimentary items you’ll want to ask the customer to see if she has. Do that with your top ten items in your store. Those checklists will bring you gold.

TIPS AND HACKS

There are certain items you sell that people often misuse. There are certain items you sell that have a downside to them that sometimes kills the sale. There are certain items you sell that get the most negative feedback post-sale. Identify these items and bring them all to the next meeting.

Assign a different product to each person and have them research how and why each item is misused, mistrusted, or complained about. At the next meeting have them do a quick presentation with two points:

  • Here is the issue
  • Here is the tip you can give to make the customer enjoy the product and get the best use out of it

Nipping objections and complaints in the bud before they even happen makes happier, smarter customers who will return more often and bring their friends with them.

Now you know how to get your team to Close the Sale with Assumptive Selling.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS One Assumption I am making is that you have read and followed the steps in The Meet and Greet eBook I published yesterday. If you Meet and Greet properly at the beginning it is far easier to Close the Sale at the end.

PPS Yes, you can hire me to do these presentations for your organization. You can even hire me to do a workshop with your sales staff using some of the activities I have shown above and in yesterday’s post. A training workshop like the latter takes about 1.5 to 2 hours and will transform the way your staff works with your customers. When you’re ready to make your customers happier to buy more, contact me.

The Meet and Greet: Starting the Relationship Off Properly

“Always Be Closing.”

Alec Baldwin said it back in 1992 in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross and we’ve all been following lock-step behind him ever since.

If your business is one-and-done like Halloween USA, or you’re running a huge clearance, or you’re going out of business, that might be a sound strategy. But if you’re hoping to be in business for the next several years or even decades, you’re missing an important element when you only focus on the end of a transaction.

You’re missing the critical relationship-building at the beginning that not only makes the close easier, but makes the repeat and referral visits much more likely.

I have just posted a new FREE eBook on the Free Resources page of my website called The Meet and Greet (follow the link to download the pdf). It is based on the new presentation I did for the Independent Garden Center Show a couple weeks ago. The download tells you what to do and why to do it.

One of my favorite staff trainings was the Dollars on the Table Game

The purpose of today’s blog is to give you some ways to implement these ideas and teach this to your front line sales staff.

(Hint: before you read any further, you might want to download and read The Meet and Greet first.)

TAKE A PICTURE

You might walk through your front door every day. If you do, you’ve become blind to what first-time customers see. (If you walk through the back door, then you are really blind to what they see.) The best thing to do is take a high resolution picture of the front entryway. Then blow it up onto the largest screen you can and start evaluating it. The photo is unforgiving and reveals the blemishes that have faded into the background for you. You’ll immediately see what needs sprucing up and what needs some TLC. Get your staff involved, too. Have them look at the picture with a critical eye.

ROLE PLAY

Telling someone how to meet a customer and actually doing it are two different things. Since I have given you a script to use, the best way to teach your staff is to have them grab a clipboard (or other prop) and do the walk-by. They can walk by you or another staff person or even a mannequin. I once had my staff grab a clipboard and time themselves doing a slow crawl around the store. The timing was not to see who could do it the fastest, but to measure how long a typical stroll would last, and then see how long it lasted with live customers. It was an eye-opener for them.

BEST SOLUTION GAME

Have each person on your team select a basic product off the shelf. Have them present the product with a focus on what problems it solves. Once you’ve figured out the problem it solves, then brainstorm as a team what product would “best” solve that same problem. It might be the same product. It might be something different. This game gets the staff into a mindset of always looking for the best solution to whatever problem a customer has.

POINT OF CONTACT

Take random photos off the internet of customers shopping. Put them up on a big screen and ask your team to find a point of contact, some kind of conversation starter that has nothing to do with shopping. Practice this several times until it becomes so natural they are shouting out answers as soon as the photos appear.

THE NAME GAME

Make it a game to see how many customer names each person can remember between staff trainings. Give out prizes. Share what people are doing to learn and then remember those names.

QUESTIONS GAME

Have two sales people square off, each with a product they would like to sell. Have them try to sell each other their product with one rule. They can only ask questions. No statements (even as answers to the other person’s question). At first this game seems simple and stupid. But eventually they start to get that asking question that have nothing to do with the product, but that have to do with the customer, are much more effective. Advanced Level: They can only ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with yes or no.

DOLLARS ON THE TABLE

I played a memory matching game where I put forty dollar bills on a table with forty different statements on the back of the dollar bills (email me for a list of the statements). The statements either said, “I earned this dollar …” or “I left this dollar on the table …” The game was a simple. Turn over two dollars. Read them out loud. If they are both “earned” dollars, you get to keep them. If one or both is a “left on table” leave them both on the table. We played until all the bills were read. Some people got money, others did not. The lessons were two-fold. One, life is not fair. Two, our job is to not leave money on the table—and now you know what to do.

There you go. Six ways to get the most out of The Meet and Greet.

By the way, if you are reading this list of training ideas and thinking to yourself, “but we don’t do trainings like this,” you might want to think again. Check out the Free Resource Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend. It will open your eyes to ways to make your meetings and trainings more fun, more effective, and better attended.

Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Those were quick and easy descriptions of games and activities I have done with my staff with much success. If you have questions or want to know more about each activity, simply shoot me an email.

PPS Today is about Opening the Sale. Tomorrow I’ll post on Closing the Sale (I have my own take on that, too.)

Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem

I was a little harsh last week on a radio station for playing eighteen commercials in a row. I said they were purely paying lip service to their advertisers (their customers) by putting them into a block that long where it would be hard to stand out and be memorable.

Yeah, part of that stand-out-and-be-memorable burden lands squarely on the shoulders of the advertiser, but the radio station did them no favors. From the outside it looked like the radio station was trying to decrease their customers’ chances of success and thus decrease their chances of being repeat customers by scheduling the ads in the least effective way.

What was really happening was the radio station was choosing between two distinct and different customers with distinct and different needs. They were choosing listeners over advertisers.

Image result for listening to the radioThe radio station needs listeners. Those are as critical to the station’s success as the advertisers. Without listeners there are no businesses lining up to pay to reach those listeners. Therefore, radio stations develop programming designed to attract the most possible listeners. Gimmicks like 25-minute rock blocks are designed to attract listeners and keep them from switching channels.

When you’re the only station in your market playing your genre of music, those gimmicks are unnecessary. But when you’re competing with other stations playing the same music, the fight for listeners is real. The winner gets to charge more for advertising. Unfortunately, if the winner, in the process of getting listeners, convinces the advertisers that radio doesn’t work,” they not only bring their own station down, they ruin it for other stations as well.

There is a parallel to indie retail.

If you fail to service a customer in your independent retail store, you jade the experience of shopping local for that customer, affecting her propensity to shop at other local stores.

Here is where the parallel gets interesting …

Most radio stations have no clue that scheduling eighteen ads in a row is hurting their paying customers. Most radio stations have no clue that writing boring, sounds-like-everyone-else commercials is hurting their paying customers. Most radio stations have no clue that scheduling ad campaigns that don’t reach the same listener at least 3x per week are hurting their paying customers. They get so focused on their listeners that they forget to take care of their customers.

The radio stations think that just by having their advertisers on the air those businesses will grow leaps and bounds thanks to the listeners they have attracted. (That’s the sales pitch they give you.)

Most indie retailers have had no training on customer service. Most indie retailers have invested no money into training programs or services to help increase the level of service they offer their customers. Most indie retailers have no formal training program for their front line staff to help them be better servants and salespeople.  We get so focused on the products, prices, and promotions we offer that we forget that our real goal is to service the customers.

Most indie retailers, however, believe they offer better customer service than their competitors and that if they just have the right products, their customers will be happy.

How? By accident? Just because they “care” more?

As an indie retailer you have a much easier opportunity to offer better service than your competitors. First, you have a better customer-to-sales-associate ratio. That allows for more one-to-one sales (assuming you have more than one person working at all times.) Second, you often have the owner—someone passionate and thoroughly knowledgeable on the products—on your sales floor. Third, you can take on the mindset of being awesome, compared to the corporate giants who are just trying not to be lousy.

Whether you take advantage of that opportunity or not, however, is a choice as clearcut as whether a radio station runs eighteen ads in a row.

Here is a place to start.

Two weeks ago I did five presentations at the Independent Garden Center Show on selling and customer service (which go hand in hand). Those presentations were:

  • The Meet & Greet: Working the First Step to the Sale
  • You’ll Score the Sale with Assumptive Selling
  • How to Push for the ‘Yes’—Without Being Pushy
  • Ten Mistakes that Sideline the Sale
  • Yes You Can Get Millennials to Shop in Your Store

Over the next two weeks I will be posting the notes to these presentations in the Free Resources section. Each time I post a new pdf, I will write a blog that focuses on different ways you can teach these concepts to your sales and front line staff. Knowing it yourself and teaching it to your staff are two different beasts.

(Note: those were the titles I used at the IGC Show. The bold words will be in the titles of the pdfs as I post them.)

Not only will you and your team raise your own bar of customer service while selling more at the same time, when your customers run into their friends who won’t shop local because of their experience somewhere else, your customers will be saying, “Oh, then you need to go to …”

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Okay, maybe this time I am being a little harsh on the retailers. Here is the thing. If a retailer ever thinks he or she knows it all, that retailer is part of the problem, not the solution. I spent six months researching those five topics above and learned things in the process I wish I had known years ago. I also learned better, more efficient ways we could have done what we were already doing. Even if it is tweaks around the edges, when you take on the mindset of personal growth and individual growth, it will help your business growth.

PPS I understand the balance for radio stations between catering to the listeners and catering to the advertisers. It is a fine line every advertising-revenue-based entertainment venue must walk. But if radio stations would start by looking at how best to help their paying customers, they might just find a way to create programming that serves both needs. Imagine the radio station where you didn’t mind listening to the ads because they were interesting, heartfelt, memorable, fun, and helpful. Heck, a station like that might just get a few more listeners regardless of their musical genre. Likewise, if a retailer would start by looking at the best ways to service a customer, that retailer would know exactly what products, prices, and promotions make the most sense.

Are Your Ads Standing Out or Getting Lost?

Last Monday I had to rent a van to move some furniture for my son’s new apartment at college. While the rental went smooth, as did the delivery of the furniture, I did something I hadn’t done in a while. I listened to FM radio. In my vehicle my phone is connected via Bluetooth so I listen to my own playlists. In the rental van I didn’t have that opportunity.

I tuned in a classic rock station out of Lansing (94.9 WMMQ) until it broke up as we got closer to Ann Arbor. There I was able to get a classic rock station out of Detroit (94.7 WCSX – yeah, didn’t have to move the needle much). 

Image result for old radio in carOn the ride home, as 94.7 was breaking up, I switched back to 94.9 just as a song was fading out and an ad-block was starting. Nine minutes and eighteen 30-second ads later, the commercials ended and the station started up a 25-minute rock-block.

Nine minutes of advertising! Eighteen advertisers all in a row!

Two days later and I can only remember one of the ads. It was about a golf scramble. I don’t remember when, where, or who it was supporting. I just remember that it didn’t make me want to play golf or support the charity (the only two reasons you would overspend for an outing like this).

The other seventeen ads had nothing memorable. There was a cheap poke at men being stupid, although I forget why. I’m pretty sure there was a car ad with a bunch of numbers thrown at me for how much down, how much a month, and how much interest over how many months if I was an employee. There had to be a drug ad because I distinctly remember being bombarded with all the legal fine print talk of all the ways this drug will make my life worse.

That’s it. That’s all I can remember of eighteen advertisers in an ad block I listened to intently.

How much do you think someone who doesn’t care about advertising is going to remember?

This isn’t a knock on radio. (Although if I were an advertiser on that station, I would be drawing up my contract to make sure I was never in a block longer than four minutes. It is hard enough to stand out among eight commercials, let alone eighteen.) This is a knock on lack of creativity and lack of understanding just how much we tune out advertising.

If you want to get someone’s attention, you have to say something unexpected. If you want them to remember you, you have to make them feel something—anything—happy, sad, angry, nostalgic, or even frustration!

I might have remembered your ad if you ran something like this …

I served them ice cream. 8:30 in the morning and I served my staff ice cream. Some looked at me like I was crazy. Others dug right in. Yeah, I’m a little unconventional that way. Kinda like how we staff the store. I have more staff on the floor than stores double our size. Some think I’m crazy. Others love it. There’s always someone available to help you. It takes a little more ice cream, but it’s worth every scoop. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

Or this …

She almost fell out of the pew. Her pastor actually called Toy House the Promised Land for kids. Right there in front of a packed church. The lady on her left leaned over and said, “You work there, don’t you?” She nodded. The lady leaned in again, “I love that place.” She couldn’t help but smile. “Me too,” she whispered back. It’s the promised land for kids and adults. Just ask the lady sitting on your left. Toy House and Baby Too in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

Your advertising is up against a bunch of obstacles. First, our brains are wired to tune out all ads. Second, we purposefully do what we can to avoid ads. Third, your ad is competing to be seen and heard among thousands of other ads.

  1. Boring doesn’t cut it.
  2. Data doesn’t cut it (see rule #1)
  3. “Me too” ads that sound like everyone else’s ads doesn’t cut it.
  4. An ad that doesn’t connect emotionally doesn’t cut it.

Get me interested by saying something different and original. Then make me feel something. That’s how ads truly work.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS This doesn’t just apply to radio ads. This applies to Facebook and all other social media. This applies to your email newsletter. This applies to the posters you put up in your store about upcoming events. Do something surprising, unexpected, and heartfelt. It doesn’t cost you more—but it does make you more.

PPS This actually is a knock on radio, this station specifically. Just like your goal is to get your customer to want to come back, the radio station’s goal is to want to get their advertisers to sign up again. When a radio station puts this many boring ads together in this long of a block, they are simply looking at their advertisers as short-term money. That’s a lets-pay-some-bills block, not a lets-make-our-own-customers-happy-because-their-ads-are-effective block. I would hate to be a salesperson for this station because they are creating a huge base of businesses who “tried radio” but didn’t see the results. Don’t create a bunch of customers who “tried your store” and don’t ever want to come back.

Another Example of Winning – Chicago Style

Have you ever had a meal ruined by a kid at the next table? Half of the time you’re wondering why the parent doesn’t do something to fix the situation. The other half you’re wondering why the parent brought the child to this particular restaurant in the first place. Some kids are too young for certain restaurants. Some parents are too inexperienced to bring their kids to restaurants.

Yet we do take our kids out to eat at inappropriate places all the time. Sometimes it is the only choice we have. It might be cheaper to take the kid than get a sitter. it might be a gift certificate you have to spend before it expires. It might be that you just don’t realize what a nuisance your kids are to others because you’re used to their antics (and/or find them cute).

Whatever the case, if you are a restaurant owner, you’re going to have children in your establishment who might potentially ruin the experience for other guests. Yet, you’re the one who gets ripped on Yelp.

Unless you’re proactive and have planned for this contingency.

I was in Chicago yesterday doing presentations for the Independent Garden Center Show (#IGCShow) at Navy Pier. After my last class I headed out to meet a fellow toy store owner and dear friend for lunch. She directed me to Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market in the Lakeview area. It is both a Fish Market and a Seafood Restaurant. It is apparently run by a smart person who is either a parent or someone who has been annoyed by children in restaurants too often.

Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market, Chicago, IL

Seafood restaurants are typically the kind of restaurant you don’t take young children. They often haven’t developed the palate. While some seafood restaurants offer kiddy meals and other options, this restaurant took it to a whole new level.

You see the picture with all the cereal boxes. That’s only about 35-40% of their wall of cereal. Yes, you can quiet your children with a bowl of cereal. (You can even have one, yourself. They offer a substantial breakfast menu—not all seafood.)

I want you to look more closely at the bottom of the picture, though. Yes, those are children’s books. Books you can read to your children while you wait for your meal. Books your children can look through while you eat your meal. Books that keep kids quiet and occupied.

Kiddy meals are expected at restaurants, but a Wall of Cereal and Books to keep the kids occupied is certainly Surprise and Delight.

My hat is off to you, Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market, for taking it a step above your competitors. My guess is that the children LOVE to go to the fish market with their parents which means they are more willing to behave in the first place. Plus, it increases the average ticket for the restaurant and just might get those kids to develop a taste for seafood at a younger age.

That’s winning times four!

What can you do to take it to the next level?

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

Check out their Bloody Mary!

PS The New Orleans BBQ Shrimp was fabulous! I highly recommend it!

PPS There are little things we do to appease the reluctant tag-along to our primary customer such as the “man seat” near the dressing room in a women’s clothing store. How can you take that to the next level? (Magazines? TV? Beverages?)

Winning the Millennial Vote

While doing research for a presentation I am making next week on selling to Millennials I came across an interesting statistic …

Only 51% of eligible Millennial voters voted in the 2016 presidential election compared to 63% for Generation X, 69% for Boomers, and 70% of everyone older.

Image may contain: Phil Wrzesinski, smiling, closeupOf course, the young adult vote has always been hard to come by, but even by comparison, Millennials are behind the other generations at this stage of their development. When Gen X was this age, they were voting at 57%. When Boomers were at this age, they were voting at 60%.

Some of my other research has led me to a possible conclusion why they vote at such low numbers and it can be summed up in one word—Lies.

Millennials were born into the world of hype. They grew up with marketers lying to them. Their BS Meter is more fully attuned to what they read, see, hear, than any other generation before them. They don’t like being lied to. They don’t like being misled. They can spot the BS faster than the FBI. They’ll forsake you at the first hint of falsehood.

They don’t like politicians in general because of how they constantly twist and mangle the truth.

I believe this is what keeps them away from the polls. If you were to give them a “None of the Above” box to check, not only would more of them would vote, but our candidates would become a lot better.

(Note: I have yet to prove this theory. If you know anyone who already has, let me know.)

As for an election, appealing to the young adult voters is not always the best strategy because they typically are the smallest voting block.

As a retailer, however, this group is the current customers of today and the bulk of your customers tomorrow. How well you reach them now could go a long way toward how well you are doing in the future.

The recipe is simple. Avoid the lies. Avoid the hype. Avoid the misleading statements, half-truths, and generalizations. Be honest, especially about the downside of the product. This group of consumers is savvy. If they don’t figure out the misdirection on their own, their online community will spell it out clear as day.

It might not win you an election, but it will win you a whole lot of long-term customers.

I’ll tell you more of what I’ve learned after next week’s presentation.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Although many generalizations are being made about Millennials, (including the one I made in this blog), I caution you to avoid the stereotypes, especially the negative ones about Millennials being lazy, self-absorbed, and entitled snowflakes. You’ll find an ample supply of those people in every generational group, and plenty of amazing kick-ass-motivated, hard-working Millennials making a difference in this world.

I Thought She Was the Owner

Often someone from my staff would enter my office and say, “I have an idea.” Often I would answer, “Great! Run with it!”

“But don’t you want to hear it first?”
“Is it consistent with our Core Values?”
“Yes.”
“Will it cost the company a lot of money?”
“No.”
“Run with it. I hired and trained you. I trust you.”

In Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive, he shows how “autonomy” is one of the key elements for motivating your staff to do their best. Autonomy gives them a feeling of ownership and a sense of pride. Autonomy also empowers them to make decisions and take care of customers the best way they can.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

I know. This is scary. But what if they screw up? But what if they don’t make good decisions? But what if they aren’t as good as I am?

Have you ever thought if you hired well and trained well, they just might end up being better than you?

Sure, giving autonomy to your staff is scary, but in the long game it is how you build a winning team.

I was in Athens, GA recently when my tennis shoes died. I went to the New Balance store where Cameron helped me find the perfect pair for my needs. (Did I mention I have odd-sized feet? Oh yeah, yesterday.)

She was smart. She was well-versed on the products she sold. She studied how I walked. She asked questions about what I did when wearing these shoes. She listened, repeated things back to me, asked more questions, then told me why she was suggesting the pairs she suggested. She was amazing!

As I was checking out, I just had to ask, “Are you the owner or manager?”

“Oh no, I just love working here.”

Cameron had the autonomy to make decisions and act as if she owned the place. She was in such control that I believed she was the owner.

That should always be your goal—to hire and train so well that your customers are so impressed by your staff member that they think he or she must be the owner.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Autonomy is letting your team members do the jobs they were hired and trained to do without someone breathing down their neck or constantly looking over their shoulder. Note the word “trained.” Don’t give them autonomy until they are trained, but once trained, set them loose. They’ll make a mistake or two at first, and you’ll help them learn from those mistakes, but in short order they will become the person you expected them to be when you hired them.