… Just walked into your store
By Mason Knight, Contributor
I kinda miss that guy, the older dude with the grey beard that appeared on the Dos Equis beer commercials. It seemed like he had been everywhere, done everything and was loved alike by all the men and women he had met along the way.
It wasn’t often that he drank beer. But when he did, it was Dos Equis. Who wouldn’t want to be like him?
It would have been cool to bend an elbow at a bar with The Most Interesting Man in the World. I’m sure I would have hung onto every word he spoke about his life.
But imagine if you had an opportunity to listen to The Most Interesting Sales Trainer in the World. You could get a one-on-one session for only $50. Recording the information on your phone is forbidden — it’s a one-time shot — and the session would only last 20-30 minutes. But you would gain all the knowledge needed to close a sale.
Chances are good that you would clear your mind of the day’s distractions. The information would be worth more than the U.S. Grant that you laid down. You’d want to listen to every word. You might even take written notes of what was said. Since the session only lasted a half-hour, you’d let the Most Interesting Sales Trainer do most of the talking. You would be the active listener, giving occasional verbal confirmations.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to find or hire The Most Interesting Sales Trainer in the World. She probably will walk into your store today. She will be disguised as a normal customer. Because that is what she is.
You already paid the $50 to meet her. It’s generally the advertising cost of bringing a shopper into your store (cost per guest). Her time with you is limited; she’s got other things to do today. If you average it out, she will be in the shop for 30 minutes or less. Everything she tells you can lead to a sale, but only if you are an active listener who remembers why we have two ears and one mouth.
Most sales trainings and many salespeople are more concerned with which words have to be said, rather than which words have to be listened for.
You must listen to her as if she is the most interesting person in the world. The information she conveys has the clues you need to develop a solution to the problem she wants to solve.
Your shopper will give you clues about what she wants to talk about. In fact, you may have already heard some of these comments from prior customers:
- “We were on vacation last month and slept on the best mattress ever.” (Ask where they went on vacation and what they did there.)
- “I saw this online for less money.” (Ask how much less, and follow up with “That sounds like a great deal, tell me why you didn’t buy it.”)
- “I can’t buy until I bring in my spouse/partner.” (Ask “If your partner were here, do you think they would choose this mattress, or would they like something different?”)
- “This is the first place I shopped.” (Ask what else they are looking for that you didn’t show them. Hint: most of the time this is a price and not a product objection.)
Sometimes you will need to nudge the conversation with brief questions:
• Tell me about your shopping experience so far.
• Tell me what part of your body hurts when you wake up.
• Tell me what you love about your current mattress.
• Tell me what you would change about your current mattress. Why aren’t you getting a full night’s sleep?
• Tell me what else you’ve seen out in the market that you really like. (Follow up with “Why didn’t you get it?”)
We all want to be heard. Show your customer that you are an active listener. Occasionally nod your head in agreement. Ask if it’s OK for you to take notes. Ask her name and use it sparingly in conversation. Add agreement to her comments.
Most of all, don’t feel the need to fill in the gaps in conversation. Don’t butt in. She will direct the dialog at her own speed.
We of the retail world are truly fortunate. We meet all kinds of people. They each have their own story to tell. Be the one that treats them like the Most Interesting Person in the World. Because for the moment, they are.
Mason Knight consults with home furnishings companies that want to further develop and grow their sales and profitability. Contact him care of firstname.lastname@example.org.