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Christmas Quick Tip #6 – Coins First!

Keeping it short and sweet, here is another simple, easy tip you and your team can do to make the holiday experience a better one for your customers.

Tip #6

GIVE THE COINS BACK FIRST

If you’re a regular, you know this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It shows both a lack of caring and a lack of training when the cashier hands me the bills first and then dumps the loose change onto my already occupied hand. The coins inevitably spill and now I’m wasting time on my hands a knees for a couple dimes.

Ugh!

The best thing you can do is teach your staff to “Count Back” the change.

The second best thing you can do is to at least have them place the coins in the customer’s hands first, followed by the bills.

Please, please, please teach and do this. Not only will you avoid those awkward hands-and-knees moments, you’ll subconsciously make your customer’s day (or in my case, you would consciously make my day and I would probably let out a rebel yell of joy!)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, I do think it is a big deal. There are little things that have bigger meaning. This is one of training and caring. A cashier taught the right way instills far more confidence than one who is bumbling around and making you drop stuff.

Two Books Every Manager of People Should Read

I had a gal on my staff a few years ago who was a hugger. She hugged me when I hired her. She hugged me when I changed her position from seasonal to permanent. She hugged me when I encouraged her to pursue her dream job. She hugged me when that didn’t work out and she came back to work for me.

I had no problem hugging her back.

In today’s #metoo world that might not be such a safe position. Hugging your staff, especially your female staff if you are a male boss, is probably a no-no.

But I had no problem hugging her back because to her, the hug validated her and made her feel appreciated. (Plus, if I were to need a defense, she did initiate the hug.)

Each person on my team had a different way of feeling appreciated.

Some needed words of encouragement. I would heap praise on them whenever I could. I knew a kind, affirming word here and there would rock their world, and they would, in turn, rock the customers’ worlds.

A couple of my staff members needed a little “token” of appreciation. I’d pass along a freebie or two their way, knowing that it was as equally powerful as the hug was to my hugger in terms of making them feel appreciated.

One person in particular just needed my time. This person needed me to just listen, just be there. My ear was her way of feeling appreciated.

Those of you who are familiar with Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages probably have already recognized what I’m talking about. In this book Chapman claims that there are five different ways we show and receive love:

  • Physical Contact
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service

He calls them our Love Languages. Each of us has a primary language we receive love and a primary language we show love (sometimes the same language, but not always). Knowing the language of my staff made it easier for me to show them Appreciation (love) in a way they would best receive it.

The purpose of the book is to help couples understand how to show love to each other. If you show love in a different language than your partner, if you don’t learn to speak his or her language, he or she might never feel the love you actually have.

As a boss, however, it also helps you learn how to show Appreciation.

According to Daniel H. Pink in his book Drive, what motivates your staff is Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. But what creates loyalty and happiness and job satisfaction is Appreciation. We all have a basic need to feel loved and appreciated.

If you manage people and haven’t read those two books, I know what Santa needs to get you for Christmas.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, some of my staff received Appreciation through Acts of Service. Fortunately for me, that was how I best showed love, so it was easy to appreciate those members of the team. Knowing that, you now know why I write this blog and give away so much on the Free Resources page. It is my way of showing love.

PPS No, I wouldn’t use The 5 Love Languages for hiring purposes. While it would seem that having a team that all spoke Acts of Service would be a good thing, remember that your customers speak all five of the languages. It is good to have a team fluent in several languages.

Giving Your Staff a Purpose

I’ve told you the story about the Simon Game that happened on Christmas Eve in 1980. I was only fourteen years old and it was a life-changer.

I haven’t told you what happened exactly two years later.

There was a guy, probably late 20’s, in his Carhart overalls staring at an empty place on the shelves. Back in 1982 we were a full-line dealer for this young and growing company called Little Tikes. They were making these amazing rotational molded plastic toys. They had a whole lineup of kitchen appliances including a stove, a refrigerator and a sink. (Yes, they were sold separately back then.)

This guy was staring at the empty hole where we would normally have stocked a sink.

Do you know the look of defeat? With his eyes glazed over, trying to hold back tears, this guy defined that look. I asked him if I could help.

“This hole means you don’t have any sinks left, right?”

In 1982 I didn’t have a computer to look up my stock numbers. I did, however, remember seeing one in a box in the warehouse. I told him to hold on while I checked just to make sure.

The one in back had just recently been canceled from a layaway. You should have seen his face when I brought out the box from the back room. It was magical!

We hugged and cried and I watched this guy literally dance his way out into the parking lot. It wasn’t until years later that I heard the term “happy-dance” but I saw one on Christmas Eve in 1982.

I don’t know if I am blessed, lucky, or just happened to have worked too many years in retail, but I actually have several more stories just like this one.

Twenty years later I had the staff together for our final meeting before the Christmas Season kicked into full gear. I called this our Pep Rally meeting. I liked to have a theme I unveiled at this meeting each year, something easy for the staff to remember.

In 2002 the phenomenon sweeping the nation was Harry Potter. The books were huge and the first movie had just been released. So our theme was Believe in the Magic. I told everyone the Simon Story and the story above. I told them a couple other “magical” stories.

We talked about the difference between service and “magical service.” We discussed the differences between selling toys and creating “magical memories.”

Then I handed everyone their own magic wand that said “Believe in the Magic!”

It was a powerful meeting, and it led to a magical season. The key was the theme.

I didn’t teach them anything new that I hadn’t already been teaching. I didn’t give them new information they didn’t already have. I didn’t introduce new concepts, techniques, or skills. It was the same stuff I always teach. The difference was the word “magical.”

By giving the season a theme and linking it to one single word or phrase, I made the meeting more memorable. I made the concepts come alive. I breathed new life into old teachings. I gave them one simple thing to focus on—being magical.

I gave them a Purpose.

As you prepare your team for this upcoming selling season, give them something to believe in. Give them a Purpose that makes it simple for them to remember their training.

One year I used the Super Hero theme. I told them stories about when we had been the hero for our customers and talked about what heroes do. (I even dressed up in a cape. If you’ve seen one of my live presentations, you’ve seen the picture of me in that cape.)

One year the theme was Become an Expert. We talked about how experts build trust through honesty and accuracy. We discussed how experts do research and know their stuff.

If you have read Daniel H. Pink’s book DRIVE, you know the three ingredients needed for motivation are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Your meetings give them Mastery. Sprinkle in some Purpose, though, and the recipe gets even better.

Create a theme for your Pep Rally meeting. Not only does it give them a purpose, it makes the meeting more fun and it makes it easier for your staff to remember one big thing rather than several little things.

(For more on planning your staff meetings and trainings, download the Free eBook Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Some of you are jealous. You’re thinking how fun it must have been to be a toy store and play all those games and have fun themes like magic or super heroes or Disney Princesses. You can’t do that because you’re an insurance agency, a dentist, or a doctor’s office so you have to be serious all the time. Or you’re a shoe seller or a pharmacy or a grocer, and there’s nothing fun about that. Oh really? We still need heroes and experts in all those fields. We still want magical experiences. Just imagine the difference when one dental office in your town decides to become “magical” or one grocer puts an emphasis on being your “hero.” That’s a game changer.

This “Free” is Really Free!

I was looking at the Free Resources page on my website yesterday. There are nine eBooks on Marketing & Advertising, twelve on Customer Service, and five on Money. You can download any and all of them for free. No strings attached. No limits to how many or how often you can download them. No limits to how far or wide you can share them. I don’t even ask for your email address first, just credit for having written and produced them.

Yeah, pretty stupid to give it all away like that for free.

Free eBook Icon from Phil's ForumYet, if you read yesterday’s post, you would understand why I do it. Of the three questions and the fifteen answers I gave yesterday to why I am doing what I do, the last question about the problems I want to solve and the last five answers were the easiest.

Helping other businesses succeed drives everything. It is the starting and ending point. If these eBooks can make a difference, you should have them.

  • You’re more likely to download them if you don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops.
  • You’re more likely to read them if they are short and to the point.
  • You’re more likely to share them if they are smaller files that you could even print if you wanted.

“A man who doesn’t read has no advantage over a man who can’t.” -Mark Twain

My sales staff got a copy of everything I had written about customer service at that time either through a staff training or by printing copies for their handbooks. (That included Generating Word of Mouth which is technically a Customer Service issue even though you’ll find it under Marketing & Advertising.)

My buyers all got copies of the Inventory Management and Pricing for Profit eBooks (the latter of which is the second most downloaded after Understanding Your Brand). 

While the stats counter shows how many times each gets downloaded, it doesn’t tell me how you’ve used them.

Would you do me a favor?

Drop me a comment on this post or an email and tell me which eBooks you’ve used and what, if any, difference they have made for your business. I’d like to know which ones have been most useful and which ones need to be revised, revamped, or removed for better content.

Thanks.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The five newest eBooks are:

Those first four make up the basis of the new half-day workshop The Ultimate Selling Workshop. (They also stand alone as great Breakout Sessions!) Yes, the live event for any of these eBooks is a far cry better than the eBook, itself. You get more stories and examples. You get the whole presentation tailored to your specific industry or region. If it is a session with owners and managers, you also get tips and techniques for teaching it to your staff. If it is a session with the staff at your business, you get hands-on activities to really drive home the points. While I encourage you to hire me for a live event, please keep sharing and using this information. Together we can tilt the playing field back in your direction.

Ten Mistakes, One FREE eBook

I actually did job interviews in a Halloween costume once. Okay, more than once. Several times, in fact, because the end of October was when I needed to start the hiring process. I’ve often wondered what an interviewee was thinking, sitting across the desk from a bird watcher, a king, Zeus, or Sorcerer Mickey.

Yes, we celebrated Halloween in costume!

When I was on my game I would have my seasonal help interviewed, background-checked, hired, and on the schedule by Election Day. That gave me two to three weeks of training before the Thanksgiving Weekend ratcheted everything up a notch.

There is one tool I now possess that I wish I had back then. It is a Free eBook I posted back in August called “Ten Mistakes that Sideline the Sale.”

While not the complete list of all the Customer Service issues I had to deal with in training, it is a powerful list of ten things you can easily correct, and that any employee of any experience can easily understand.

It would have been a mandatory part of the training packet I gave each new employee. It would have been a mandatory part of the post-training discussion to make sure they had read and understood everything clearly.

It is impossible to cover every issue, but these ten are so common and so simple to correct, that it would be a crime for any retailer to be losing business by making these mistakes. Before you download the eBook, let me tell you two things …

  • There is nothing in this eBook you don’t already know
  • Your staff are making these mistakes daily

Heck, I would find myself making these mistakes every now and then—especially #6 and #10—cringing every time it happened.

This is such a valuable training tool because it covers mistakes we make greeting customers, selling to customers, and ringing them up at the end—all the key things your new staff will be asked to do. It shows you what not to do, why you shouldn’t do it, and what you should do instead, all in four pages.

I shouldn’t be giving this away for FREE.

I should be charging you for this download because of how much it will improve your Customer Service overnight. Download it now before I change my mind. Download it, save it, print it, incorporate it into your training manual, and share it with your fellow retailer friends.

It will be the easiest staff training you do this fall.

Your team will be super heroes for your customers (and you won’t have to wear a costume to do it!)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You won’t even be asked to give your email to download this Free eBook. That’s how much I want you to succeed. (But if you want to subscribe to the blog and didn’t do it with the annoying little pop-up box, you can find the subscribe box here.)

PPS Yes, there is a Live Presentation of these Ten Mistakes. It is full of stories and experiences not in the eBook (including a bonus eleventh mistake you can also easily correct) that will drive home the points in a fun and entertaining way. It’s not too late to book me to teach this to your staff this fall. (I’ll even wear my super hero cape if you ask.)

PPPS Number Three is one of the most aggravating for me personally. Don’t tell me what I missed. Tell me what is going on right now.

Reviews: Good, Bad, Necessary Evil?

I remember the first presentation I saw about the power of online reviews. The speaker instructed us how to use our smartphones to take quick testimonials right on the sales floor whenever we had a happy customers. I looked at my notes from the presentation and read …

“Get them to post their reviews before they even checkout. That’s when they are happiest.”

I also remember around the same time reading about Yelp and the problems with reviews there. Yelp was accused of suppressing good reviews and only showing an equal mix of both good and bad reviews. Yelp’s argument was that most good reviews were false anyway and that the people reading the reviews needed to see both the good and the bad.

I had never even looked at Yelp because I thought it was only for restaurants and west coast businesses. I immediately checked out our listing. To my surprise (and delight), there were no negative reviews posted, mainly because we didn’t have any negative reviews.

Then I got the extortion letter from Yelp. If I signed up for advertising with them I could control (somewhat) my negative reviews. I remember thinking three things at that time.

First, I didn’t have any negative reviews to control on Yelp.

Second, I didn’t see the return on investment for running ads on Yelp, partly because I didn’t and still don’t see much return on investment for any brick & mortar running online ads, and partly because I didn’t see Yelp as a big deal for indie retail.

Third, anyone that was already looking me up or finding me on Yelp was either going to visit me because I was an indie toy store or not visit me because I was an indie toy store. The reviews were a minor part of the decision process. More importantly, anyone who didn’t know me, then found me on Yelp, and was debating whether to visit was basing their decision on every single interaction they had ever had with an indie toy store.

The reviews were just the reinforcement of their already-established bias.

That’s the reality of how we read reviews. We first have an established bias based on our own beliefs and previous experiences. We look at reviews to reinforce those beliefs. We’ll justify away negative reviews for places we expect to love, and discount the reviewer’s opinion when it is at odds with what we expect.

In the back of our mind, we’ll also wonder how many of these reviews—good and bad—are simply made up.

About the only time we’ll heed the reviews is when they are heavily slanted to the negative. When everyone is saying something bad, we’ll decide the business is an outlier and shun them.

(Note: I talked about how to deal with negative reviews here.)

Does this mean you should ignore reviews for your business? Absolutely not! You should always be checking your reviews. If they slant negative then you have a problem you need to address with how you run your business. Even one bad review might be enough to warrant a change in policy to make the experience better for your customers.

If they slant positive, great! Keep up the good work!

Only if you don’t have any reviews (because you’re a new business or have only recently claimed your online profile) should you actually go after getting them. If you’re running your business correctly, the good reviews will take care of themselves.

Because of confirmation bias, though, you don’t have to lose sleep over your reviews. Just keep an eye on them from time to time and make sure you run your business so well that the positive organic reviews outweigh the negative ones.

At the end of the day the most important “review” is the one-to-one where your current customers talk about you to their friends.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Of all the reviews online, pay most attention to your Google reviews. These are the ones that most people will see because A) Google is the top search engine. B) Google Maps is the top Map App.

PPS If you are a restaurant, reviews are much more critical than if you’re a retailer. How you respond to each review goes a long way to how people will view your restaurant. Read this about negative reviews.

How Fast Do You Solve Her Problem?

You call a number. You get a recording, a menu of options. You listen to all the options before pressing two. Another menu. This time you press one. Now a recording offers you yet a third menu. You select three and a recorded voice comes on to say, “Please hold while I try that extension.”

Twenty minutes of horrible music and a voice interrupting every so often to say, “Please stay on the line and the next available representative will help you,” you finally get a live person on the other end of the phone. You explain your problem patiently only to hear …

“Hold on while I transfer you to someone who can help you.”

Aaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!

Another fifteen minutes or so later you get someone equally unhelpful. You’re ready to hang up except you now have over forty minutes invested in this call. Your frustration levels are through the roof. Your anxiety is peaking. You’re about to rip someone’s head off if you don’t eventually get satisfaction.

We’ve all had that experience. Many of us have experienced it more times than we care to count.

Then we walk into a retailer with what we believe to be a simple problem, find a clerk to help us, explain our problem, and hear …

“Hold on while I find someone who can help you.”

We immediately go back to the frustrations and anxiety of all the other times this has happened to us.

Sure, you’re not a phone tree with endless menus and unhelpful people. Sure, you solve the problem with the second person she sees. Sure, your customer doesn’t have to wait thirty minutes like she did on the phone with that other company.

None of that matters. You still caused your customer to feel all those negative emotions first.

This is why the best stores empower the first person who greets a customer to be able to solve all of her problems and take care of all of her needs.

The customer walking through your door with a problem is already worked up. She brings with her the baggage of every forty-minute phone tree fiasco. She brings with her all the frustrations and anxieties of all the interactions with untrained, useless “salespeople.” She’s loaded for bear and ready for a fight.

Then you spring the, “Hold on while I find someone,” phrase on her.

When she explodes on you, it isn’t really you. You’re just the straw on the camel’s back. But those feelings she has are now associated with you whether you like it or not.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can empower your front line staff to solve her problem by teaching them this simple three-statement approach:

  1. “I’m so sorry you have this problem …”
  2. “Let me see if I have this straight …” (explain the problem back to her as your heard it and ask for clarification)
  3. “What would you like us to do?”

Always apologize. Notice that the apology doesn’t necessarily imply guilt or fault. The apology simply acknowledges that she has a problem and sets her at ease.

Then repeat back her problem to show that you were listening. Sometimes just being heard is all a customer really needs. It also gives you a chance for clarification to understand the problem better and time to think about how you would want to solve the problem.

The last phrase is the kicker. Great Customer Service is when you meet a customer’s expectations. The best way to know what she expects is to ask. And since an unhappy customer is your worst enemy because of the negative reviews and bad word-of-mouth, it is vital you know exactly what she wants.

Once she tells you what she wants, the best thing to do is give her that … and a little more.

More often than not, when you first put the customer at ease and show her you are listening to her problem, by the time you ask her what she wants she will ask for less than you were likely prepared to give. Even if she does ask for a lot, instruct your staff to give it to her. It is worth it in the long run because of how it makes your customer feel.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Empower and train all of your staff to handle all of the problems immediately and you will control how your customers feels. Speed does matter. (Plus, if your staff are handling all the problems, you’ll have fewer interruptions throughout the day to get your work done. Win-win!)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Every now and then a customer will make an outrageous request. It is still worth it to meet that request the first time. If she becomes a repeat problem then you have the right to adjust what you do for her. But since these requests will be so few and far between, they won’t cost you nearly as much as you think. Plus, since you’ll be better managing the way customers feel about you, you’ll have more happy customers than ever before. Instead of worrying about the cost, think of it as an “advertising” expense where you are buying positive word-of-mouth (or at the very least buying the lack of bad word-of-mouth), and the fact you just made a customer’s day. Those are two benefits that will help any business.

Connecting Through Stories (Part 2)

For twenty years my mom and I would meet every Saturday morning for breakfast. My dad joined us for several of those years. Occasionally my boys would get up early, too, especially since they loved the French Toast and pancakes at the restaurant where we ate.

For my mom it was a chance to tell me all the things going on in her life. She’d share all her stories from the past week, usually referencing previous stories, too. Some people believe that an event didn’t happen until you share it with someone else. It certainly wasn’t memorable until you shared it. In fact, the act of sharing your stories is what makes them more memorable.

The stories also make you more personable and human. 

When you are a faceless sales clerk, customers feel they have the right to treat you like a subhuman person. When you become more human, the relationship changes.

Image result for dale carnegie you can make more friends quoteOne way you become more human is by sharing your stories. Another way is by listening to the stories of your customers.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie

The way we get to those stories is through a Point of Connection. Find one thing about a new customer through which you can connect. Find something you have in common, something you can comment on, something about which you can ask a question.

“I love your shoes! I used to have a pair just like them. Where did you find them?”

I did an exercise with my staff where I posted a series of pictures of different people and asked them to find a Point of Connection. If it was a parent with a child, the child is an easy connection. The two things we love to talk about the most are ourselves and our children.

“Oh what a cutie-pie. He reminds me of my son at that age. How old is he?”

If it is a person who has some shopping bags from another store, you can ask about her previous trip.

“I see you’ve been to Toy House. I love that store. What did you find?”

If it is someone wearing the colors of their college, you can use that as an opening.

“A Michigan fan. Go Blue! My son goes there now. Are you going to the game this weekend?”

There are several ways to find that Point of Connection and it is an easy staff training to do. In fact, you can start each meeting with a quick Point of Connection quiz by popping up some photos on the screen and having your staff blurt out the Point they see. Within a few meetings they will be doing this automatically.

Now let’s break down the actual phrases used above to see how they incorporate storytelling.

First, each greeting starts with the point of connection. I love your shoes. Oh what a cutie-pie. A Michigan fan.

Second, each greeting has a (very) short story from you. I used to have a pair just like them. He reminds me of my son at that age. I love that store. My son goes there now. Yes, those all qualify as stories.

Third, it asks a question to get to her story. What did you find? How old is he? Are you going to the game?

Those three elements in that order change your relationship from customer/clerk to customer/human. 

The first part makes the connection and gives you the opening. The second part, sharing your short story, makes you human. The third part, by asking her about her story, makes her more interested in you. The more of her story she shares, the more you will remember her, which makes her next visit even better. The more of her story she shares, the more you will know what she is trying to accomplish. The more of her story she shares, the more likely you will find the best solution for her.

Once you get her sharing, keep it going. Keep asking open-ended questions. You can share your own (very short) stories along the way as long as you end with a question about her.

By the way, this isn’t a gimmick or trick. Dale Carnegie taught us this technique decades ago. Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is a way to create relationships and friendships. (If you have children going off to college who struggle to make new friends, teach them this simple technique. It will change their world.)

When you get your customers to tell you their stories, the connection becomes real. The event happened. (And it is going to happen again and again and again.) That’s how you connect through stories.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from American Author Alfred A. Montapert … “All lasting business is built on friendship.”

Go make some friends today.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Do you know people who seem to make friends easily? Watch them. They employ this technique effortlessly, subconsciously, likely without any understanding of it and why it works so well. I am one who has to work very hard on this technique because I know I have a tendency to dominate conversations. Because of this character flaw, however, I can testify how well this technique works.

PPS The more you get your customer to talk about something not business-related, the more likely she’ll tell you her business-related problem she came in to solve, without you ever having to ask those deal-killing questions like, “Can I help you?” You’ll learn this technique plus a whole lot more in The Ultimate Selling Workshop. Sign up by the end of the month for the best price on this intensive, power-packed, hands-on presentation. It will be the most profitable three hours you spend with your team.

New Technology Versus Old School: Where is Your Money Going?

She lived in Jackson, MI, but her folks, family, and friends were all still back on Long Island. After visiting our store, she knew exactly what she wanted for her new baby. With a clipboard in hand, we helped her choose her furniture, bedding, car seat, stroller, and all of the accouterments to go with it. The baby shower, however, was back on Long Island.

No worries. We had a phone. So did all of her guests. One by one they called and bought the items off her baby registry. We wrapped each gift and mailed a receipt and picture to the shower guest. She went to Long Island, had a party to remember, got almost everything on her list, and the gifts were all waiting for her back at her house when she got home.

Now that’s really old school!

We did it all by voice via the phone. Old school.

Earlier today I took a survey about which emerging technologies would have the largest impact on retail for 2019. One of those emerging technologies caught me by surprise …

Voice commerce. New technology.

What is voice commerce? The ability to order something by voice. Gee, haven’t we had that for a few centuries now?

Actually it is a fascinating new technology. At one end there is using voice through Siri or Alexa to order something. “Hey Siri, order my usual takeout from China House.” At the other end is you sitting on your exercise bike realizing your favorite water bottle has a crack, so you call Amazon and speak to a computer to order a new one because it is easier than trying to type while biking.

As I was pondering this new technology, however, several thoughts quickly popped into my head …

  • What if the computer doesn’t understand what you want?
  • What if you don’t know exactly what you want?
  • Will it make suggestions?
  • How much trust and bonding and relationship-building will it do for your business?

I can see on that last question, while many people have bonded with Siri and Alexa, they have the relationship with their device, not your store. Siri doesn’t work for you. Siri won’t curate a selection and “complete” a sale.

That’s my big fear with all of the emerging technologies. They decrease the interaction customers have with employees and decrease the relationships customers have with retailers.

The big chains probably love the idea of fewer interactions with employees, though. That removes any responsibility they might have to actually train their employees. Their don’t-care employees, poorly micromanaged by don’t-care managers, don’t know how to curate a selection or complete a sale anyway.

What if instead of spending money chasing these new technologies you spent your money training your staff? What if you taught them better ways to meet and greet customers that made lasting first impressions? What if you taught them better listening skills so that they could understand exactly what your customers were trying to accomplish? What if you taught them how to better solve problems and help your customers accomplish their goals? What if you taught them techniques that helped them make your customers’ days?

Here’s a better way to put it …

Would you rather go after the market that wants one specific item quickly and efficiently, and if you don’t have the specific item, they’re ordering it somewhere else? Or would you rather go after the market that has a specific problem, has an idea of the solution she thinks she needs, but isn’t quite sure, wants to find a trustworthy source that helps her understand her options, helps her make the best choice to solve her problem, and then brags to her friends about how wonderful you are?

If you want the first one, go after those emerging technologies. If you want the second one, train your staff.

One of the survey questions asked how I would measure the results of emerging technologies. Among the answers were things like Cost and Efficiency. I could choose two answers. I chose “Increased Customer Retention” and “Increased Customer Loyalty.” Those are the ones that truly matter.

Our shower gal not only became a lifelong customer, she bragged about us to all of her friends and brought them in to register for their baby showers. Two of her Long Island aunts continued to call us for Hanukkah gifts for several years after.

When Siri and Alexa can do that, the investment will be worth it. Until then there are smarter ways to spend your time, energy, and money.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Looking for a way to train your team to make the kind of connections that bring you more repeat and referral business? Call me today to schedule the Ultimate Selling Workshop, a power-packed three-hour workshop that teaches you and your team the best way to build those relationships and get those sales. I’ve discounted this workshop heavily this fall so that you can turn this holiday season into your best one ever.

PPS The most mind-boggling thing to me is how so many major retailers are spending huge dollars chasing all of the emerging technologies in this survey from AI to Augmented Reality to 3D Printing to Voice Commerce, when none of them have yet mastered the Customer Service Training they should be offering to their managers and front line employees. At the end of the day, no matter what fancy new technology you have, if your store sucks and treats customers like crap, you’re in the race to the bottom whether you want to be or not.

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.