Every now and then, I am out and about during my work week or scouting out my new neighbourhood in beautiful Vancouver & surrounding areas when I stumble onto a business that has either executed really poorly or really well.
More often than not, I am "under"whelmed as opposed to overwhelmed.... but not yesterday!
In the hunt for our veggies for Thanksgiving Dinner, we came across Ralph's Farm Market in Langley. From the moment you arrive in the ample parking lot and sneak a peek at the twin, white tent awnings to admiring the trio of gazebos out front; you start to notice a job well done.
My "a'-ha" moment didn't happen until after I had perused the fabulous selection of baked goods, fresh produce and jolly orange pumpkins. Every package of gluten free pasta was stacked perfectly in unison, every bag of rice faced forward in perfection, with groupings of no less than 3-5, whether vertically or horizontally arranged. Abundance sells as we all know!
I then came around the stacked corner of specialty sodas at the rear of the store and saw the most well executed produce display I have ever seen! It seems so simple, a few heads of lettuce, some carrots...slap them together right?
Look at the originality of this display, the shape blocking, colour blocking and visual interest somebody took the time to apply here. I was so impressed I finished my shopping and had to go back and snap this photo. I may need to go back and ask who is doing their in-store merchandising! Whoever it is, killer kudos coming your way!
I will never look a veggie display quite the same ever again, well done Ralph!
PS - the produce was delicious too!
How many retailers have heard this old stand-by phrase in their stores and on show room floors? How is it that we allow our sales staff to ask such generic questions that will ultimately lead us to this flat, lifeless and profitless response?
5 Worst Openers:
1. May I help you? Can I help you?
2. Are you looking for anything in particular?
3. Do you know we have a sale on right now?
4. Do you have any questions?
5. These just came in, aren't they great?
Why are these lame questions so unproductive? Because they are closed endings, they leave little to no wiggle room to engage the customer in an educational or probing dialogue. Every customer that walks through the door is a potential sale for your business, regardless of how they ended up there. They may be killing time while hubby is next door looking at golf clubs, or ducking in to get out of the rain. Either way, They are in YOUR store. They already have a subconscious desire to own what you are selling!
Where to start?
Brainstorm a list of at least 50 questions and phrases that you can imagine asking or stating to a customer to break the ice. Step out on a limb and have some fun. Make a point of noticing details about your customer. Is she carrying a purse that you sell in your store, or perhaps you have been drooling over at the local Coach store? Comment on it. Are they pushing a stroller you have never seen before? Ask her how she likes it? What's it's best feature?
Think beyond the sale and work on starting small talk. Imagine yourself at a dinner party and you are trying to engage a stranger in conversation; it's no different!
10 Sample Opening Sentences:
1. Those grocery bags look heavy, would you like me to put them behind the counter while you walk our store? (Offer to carry them out to the car afterwards of course)
2. I noticed your toddler has her ears pierced. Where did you have them done? My daughter really wants hers done but we are a little nervous.
3. Did you get a chance to enjoy the long weekend? Did you do anything exciting?
4. Lottery is at $50 million this week, did you buy your ticket? We have a group pool going!
5. Are you shopping for yourself today or for somebody else?
6. You've got your arms full, would you like to use our complimentary stroller while you visit our store?
7. Your son looks like he may need to use our bathroom, can I show you where it is?
8. I see you have a Chapters bag, do they have any good sales on right now?
9. We are doing some instore category changes; can I ask your opinion on what your favorite body wash/baby carrier/toy brand etc.. is? (Only ask for one product reference)
10. We just stocked our kid's play area with new coloring books and crayons; would your kids like to break them in?
These are just some ideas on how to get sales staff to break out of the robot routine of asking the same generic questions. Any top sales person will tell you that they succeed best when they can get a customer engaged and talking, even if at first,it is not even about the products or services you sell!
So now you have broken the ice, now how do you move into the sales portion of your conversation? The first rule is try and develop a person-to-person relationship as opposed to a customer-to-salesperson one. This is done by being genuine in probing the customer to determine their needs and responding accordingly. If they have clarified they are shopping for a budget conscious toaster oven, don't show them your top of the line, most expensive model.
Asking the right questions such as:
By taking the time to pay attention to the details, you can win your customer's confidence and ultimately increase your chances of a win-win situation for both of you. The best suggestion in a sales environment is to spend more time listening and less time talking. When your customer is talking; they are interested in buying.
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!