PS For a more detailed explanation of Man Week and how to sell to men, please read the article I wrote for edplay Magazine here.
PPS Besides feeling like a hero, men also want to feel smart. Praise their purchases. Build them up. Help them be the Hero. It not only pays now, it pays later because you will make a customer for life when you make a man feel smart.
This month’s blog posts are short and simple because you’re busy. They are also reminders of tips, techniques, and tools you can use to increase sales, increase profits, and increase customer delight. This tip does all three.
Here is tip #9
EMPTY HER HANDS
If you don’t have shopping carts or baskets, your customers are limited to buy only what they can carry. Therefore, it should be a mission for all of your team to help unburden your customers whenever their hands are full.
Offer to take her items up to the checkout station.
This is good for two reasons. First, it frees up her hands to shop for more items. Second, it helps close the sale because when she agrees to your request to take the items up front she is giving her implicit acknowledgement that she has decided to buy those items.
When her hands are free she will shop longer, buy more, and be happier.
Don’t believe me? Believe Paco Underhill. He researched it for decades and chronicled it in his book Why We Buy. If you haven’t read it, ask Santa to bring you a copy.
PS Come up with a system for your team when they bring items up front—put a sticky note with a name on the pile and/or have a designated place for piles—something that helps you keep piles organized so that the wrong items don’t go home with the wrong people.
Keeping it short and simple for the busy holiday season, this next tip may seem minor, but at the end of the day you’ll thank me.
Here is tip #8
CHANGE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS
This time of year retailers spend for more time on their feet and far more time running back and forth than any other time of the year. By the end of the day your feet are killing you.
Two things you can do to help your feet get through this busy season are:
Change your socks midday
Alternate the shoes you wear
I used to keep a pair of socks in my office. During the Christmas season when I was working 7am to 9pm I would often change my socks in the late afternoon. Just that one act alone made my feet feel refreshed and gave me a little more spring in my step.
Not only was that good for me, it was good for my customers. It is hard to hide foot pain when interacting with other people. Like I said before, your last customer deserves the same level of enthusiasm as your first customer.
Alternating shoes is another way to keep your feet fresh. It gives your foot a different feel because different shoes work the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in different ways.
Encourage your employees working those long shifts to do the same. They will thank you. Their feet will thank you.
PS My routine was to buy quality shoes with, comfy, supportive inserts, change my socks frequently, and switch between my dress shoes and my tennis shoes regularly. At night I would sprinkle baby powder into my shoes to help them dry up and smell fresh by morning. This tip won’t show up in any book on customer service, but it will affect your bottom line when you have more energy to work with those late-in-the-day customers.
Of all the Christmas Quick Tips I will give you, this one will be the hardest to master and quite possibly the most rewarding when you and your team do master it …
Here is tip #7
LEAD WITH THE BEST
Your customer is looking for solutions. Yes, at this time of year we call them gifts, but at the end of the day, they are really solutions to problems.
When you offer suggestions, unless the customer has given you a price range right up front, ignore price altogether and start by showing the best solution you have.
It doesn’t have to be the most expensive. It just has to make the most sense.
The tendency of most retail salespeople is to sell from your own pocketbook and start by offering the cheapest solution. That doesn’t win hearts (or build profits). You can use the cheapest solution as the fallback when they balk at the price of the best solution, but always lead with the best.
A customer will expand his or her budget if the product offered truly fits her needs.
You are a solution provider. Your job is to provide the best possible solution first. Then the customer can decide what she’s willing to compromise to fit her budget.
Teach your team that goal number one is to solve the problem in the best way possible. Always lead with the best.
PS Never open with the question, “What’s your budget?” First, they almost always lowball you well below what they would actually spend for the right product. Second, it pigeonholes you and often keeps you from showing her the right product. She’ll tell you when it’s out of her league, and you can adjust your offerings from there.
PPS Some of my favorite stores have successfully talked me into buying a more expensive item than I planned. I love those stores because in each case the solution was worth the expenditure. On the flip side, there are stores I won’t visit again because they tried to upsell me something that wasn’t the bestsolution to my problem. Always lead with the BEST.
Since your time is tight, now through December 21st I’m keeping these blog posts short and simple with tips, tools, and techniques that make a difference.
Here is tip #5
START CLOSING AT CLOSING TIME
Yes, you’re tired. Yes, these are long days and you want to go home. Yes, waiting until closing time to wash the counters, count the change, empty the wastebaskets, etc. will make you have to stay a few minutes later.
Yes, your last customer of the day deserves the same enthusiasm as your first customer of the day.
Make it taboo for anyone on your team to mention how tired they are. This is your moment to make hay. This is what your whole year has been built around. You’re supposed to be tired at the end of the day. Just don’t let it show.
Treat the last customers with the same enthusiasm as the first customers. Don’t go around the store closing things down and making them feel unwelcome. Instead think of them as the icing on your sales cake and give them the red carpet treatment.
Even if you have to fake it.
It not only pays now with bigger sales at the end of the day, it pays down the road as a customer treated well is more likely to come back than a customer treated like a nuisance.
PS I was guilty of this far too often. It is the one mistake I wish I could go back in time to fix. Yes, they are long days for you. Have you ever considered it has also been a long day for your customer? Treat her with kindness and enthusiasm and not only do you get the sale, you just might make her day.
For the rest of the Christmas season I am keeping these blogs short and simple with one tip, tool, or technique you and your team can use to make this season rock!
Here is tip #4 …
NEVER SAY NO
You are going to be asked quite often for products you don’t have. Either you’re out-of-stock or you don’t carry that product (or maybe you’ve never heard of it).
When the store is busy and you have other customers waiting to be helped, it is easy to simply say No and move on to a customer you can help.
Resist the urge.
Train yourself and your staff to Never Say No. Try out these phrases instead …
I have some coming in soon. Can I arrange to have it sent to you as soon as it comes in?
Are you looking for that particular item, or can I show you something similar?
We prefer this brand instead (be direct)
What are you hoping to do with that item? (if you know this isn’t just meant to be a gift)
Can you show me what it is? (if you’ve never heard of the item)
All of these phrases are conversation starters. Often a customer is looking for a specific item because she doesn’t know alternatives exist or she has an idea in her head and can only think of one solution. When you start the conversation, sometimes you find better solutions than the one she asked for.
PS Here’s another tool I stole from a fellow toy store owner. Create a “No List.” Put it on a clipboard up front. Every time an employee gets asked for a product you don’t have or a service you don’t offer, write it on the No List. If one thing ends up on that No List several times, you should consider selling that item or offering that service. Your customers already think you would.
You’re busy. I’m busy. Our customers are busy. So in the interest of time, I’m keeping all the posts from now through Christmas short and sweet.
Here is tip #3
SIGN THEM UP BEFORE CHECKOUT
If you have a loyalty program, birthday club, or email list that you normally ask customers to join, you need to get in the habit of doing that long before they get to check out.
By the time the customer gets to checkout, they are in a hurry to leave. Anything you do then to slow down the line is an aggravation and leaves a bad taste in their mouth. They are not in a sharing mood then.
The best time to sign someone up is duringthe sales process. Not only are they in a friendlier mood, they are in less of a hurry and more willing to say yes.
Once you get them to say yes to your program, you make closing the sale that much easier.
Now is a good time to farm for your lists. Hire a seasonal person to wander your store with a tablet and/or clipboard and sign people up for your loyalty/birthday/email list. You’ll get more takers, close more sales, and keep your registers humming at optimal speed.
PS If you don’t have enough salespeople to have them all doing this job as part of their sales process, hiring a seasonal person for this will more than pay for itself down the road. Plus it gives you one more person on the floor to direct customers where to go and deter shoplifters.
It’s the busy season. You don’t have time for a lengthy blog with stories and explanations. So to make your life easier, now through December 21st I’m going to post simple, quick tips you can use and share with your staff to raise the bar for your customers. (Don’t ask questions. Just do these things and it will make a difference.)
Here is tip #1 …
SAY THANK YOU
Remind yourself and your staff to always say, “Thank You,” to every customer. Never say “Here you go,” or “No problem.”
Even when a customer says Thank you to you first, you respond with a thanks or use Chick-fil-A’s, “My pleasure.”Say it and mean it. Those customers have choices and they chose you. Be sincerely thankful.
One study showed that 68% of people switched loyalty in stores because of indifference. Be grateful and you’ll never have that problem.
By now you’ve probably already seen this ad. You may love it. You may hate it. You may wonder what all the hype is about. You may wonder who the heck is John Lewis and why should you care?
Since it is getting all the hype (and it made me cry, something very few ads do to me these days) I figure I would break it down for you to show you why it is going viral.
If you haven’t seen the ad, you can watch it below or follow this link here. It is just over two minutes long. (Note: spoiler alerts below.)
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know I teach six principles that anyone can follow to make your ads more memorable and effective. Those principles are:
Don’t Look or Sound Like an Ad
Tell a Story
Make Only One Point
Speak to the Heart
Speak to the Tribe
Make Your Customer the Star
Don’t Look or Sound Like and Ad:Check! When I first clicked on a link for this ad that a friend shared with me, I thought I had accidentally linked to a trailer for the new Elton John movie Rocketman. This definitely doesn’t look or sound like any ad you’ll see on television outside of the first Sunday in February—if even then!
Tell a Story:Check! I love how they tell the story in a reverse timeline. Like any good storyteller, they take you from what you know to something you don’t know.
Make Only One Point:Check! I’m sure John Lewis sells all kinds of products and offers all kinds of services. They don’t talk about any of that. The tagline “Some gifts are more than just a gift” is about the thought you give into gift-giving and the thought John Lewis gives into the products it sells.
Speak to the Heart:Check! John Lewis is known for their touching, moving Christmas commercials. This one brought me to tears. Twice. Once at 1:45, again at 2:12.
Speak to the Tribe:Check! If you read the comments below the video on YouTube you’ll notice that not everyone is gushing over this ad. In fact, while 90,000 have given it a thumbs up (at the time of this typing), 8,500 have given it a thumbs down. Several people have written comments that they don’t get it. That, in my humble opinion, is the most telling point of how well John Lewis is speaking to the tribe.
Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, has been teaching for years that, like a magnet, an ad’s ability to attract is equal to its ability to repel. The more powerfully you speak to your tribe—your customers, the people who share your Core Values—the more likely others won’t get it or like it. Roy also says, “Choose who to lose.” Don’t try to speak to everyone, just the most important ones.
This particular ad speaks to several tribes—Elton John fans, Musicians, people with Nostalgia as a character trait, Christmas saps, and people with Giving Gifts as one of their Love Language. I happen to be all of those. If you’re not one of those, you might not get why the rest of us are grabbing a tissue.
Some people loved the ad just because it was Elton. Some felt at the end he was lamenting the loss of his parents more than he was waxing nostalgic on the gift—another tribe. Some were remembering their own favorite Christmas gift that inspired them or that they still own today.
The ad evoked powerful emotions from several groups of people.
Make Your Customer the Star:No Check. I do have to agree with one comment on YouTube where the person said it looked more like an ad for Elton John’s next tour or movie than it did an ad for John Lewis. It certainly did feel that way up until the scene with the little boy coming down the stairs Christmas morning. Prior to that scene it was all about Elton. but in that one moment it was any one of us who has ever come down the stairs wide-eyed and full of excitement on Christmas morning.
That scene at 1:45 was the first part that really got to me emotionally. My first blog post ten years ago was about my favorite Christmas gift—a six-string guitar.
I’m okay that this ad didn’t fully make “you” the star. It works because of the story. The story works because we all know of Elton. You don’t have the budget to get Elton John into your commercials and that’s okay. John Lewis did and it worked for me.
Five out of six boxes checked. That’s why everyone is talking about this ad, and John Lewis.
PS Want to do a fun exercise? Go through all the John Lewis commercials here and write down the different tribes each ad is speaking to. It will help you when you start crafting your own powerful ads like these.
PPS If you didn’t get this ad or like this ad, that’s okay. It just wasn’t written for you. I watch ads every day that make me scratch my head until I remember, they weren’t written for me. Speak to your Tribe with your ads. That’s what really matters.