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Now that I have your attention...

I’M in Las Vegas at the mall. Not just anywhere. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. If you’re a storeowner, it’s the most expensive retail rental property in America. I’m a shopper. I look inside stores that are attractive to me or have something that I would like to buy. And in this mall, more than half the stores fit that criterion. All the merchandise is attractive. Like the lure of Las Vegas, everything glitters. And the customers are all in a festive mood. People with big bags full of purchases they just made walking around the mall looking to make even more purchases. The paradox is the salespeople. As good as the mall is, as good as the merchandise is, as good as the customer ready to buy is – that’s how bad the salespeople are. “Can I help you?” “No, I’m just looking.” Or, if you actually need sales help, often the sales clerks are talking to each other. At the more expensive shops, there’s a security officer at the door looking stoic, almost mean. Interesting personality to set the tone for your visit. In Las Vegas, none of that matters. In spite of a stern security guard, in spite of lousy salespeople, the customers will still buy. I’ll challenge every store owner that if their front-door people were greeters, friendly greeters, and their salespeople were engaging, their sales could double. But most retailers, especially in this city (where everyone is pretty much fat and happy), haven’t figured that out yet. How are you engaging your customers? Not greeting them. Engaging them. Let me give you the elements (no, the rules) of engagement and let you judge for yourself. 1. Smile. Your smile tells the customer that they are welcome. Do you smile every time you greet someone? 2. Friendly. Friendly is a manner that comes from within. It’s a personality and an attitude. It also allows the customer to be more open with you. Are you friendly all the time? 3. Asking a question that creates meaningful dialogue. An engagement question. It can even be a statement, as long as it engages. In retail, it can be “I have something perfect for you”. In your business it can be, “When I say (insert your product here) what one word comes to mind”? Do you have five compelling engagement questions or statements? 4. Sincerity. This is an element of engagement that is as obvious in its absence as it is in its presence. If you don’t love your job, if you don’t love your company, your sincerity will be in question, and so will your sales. Do you love what you do enough to be sincere about it? 5. Eye contact. Look people in the eye when you greet them. It gives them confidence in you. How would you rate your eye contact? How can you improve it? 6. Knowledge of the product or service you sell. When engaging a customer, this is a given. Are you the master of product knowledge? 7. A genuine desire to help. This element comes from who you are as a person. Your character. Your service heart. How willing are you to serve others? 8. An incentive (commission) to sell more. If you know there is a reward at the end of a successful journey, you’ll work harder to learn it and earn it. What’s your incentive? 9. An ability to answer the customer’s question(s) in a manner that leads to the sale. Don’t just answer the question; try to find out why they’re asking it. What kind of answers are you giving to your ten most asked questions? 10. Tell me what you can do, not what you can’t do. Don’t tell me you’re out of stock, tell me what other store has it and how you’re going to get it to me. How easy is it for your customers to buy? 10.5 Ask for the sale. Most sales opportunities are lost because salespeople fail to ask for the business. Are you asking for the sales every time? (I doubt it.) Engagement is one of the most powerful, yet least understood and least utilised aspect of the selling process. And when you add my mantra, People Don’t Like to Be Sold, But They Love to Buy, it puts all of the other elements into perspective. Engagement challenges you to get one on one with a customer in a manner that puts the customer at ease, excites them, and makes them want to purchase from you. If your store or your business is not in Las Vegas (a given for readers in Perth), you better pay attention to the rules of engagement. And taking them one step further – train your people on the rules of engagement. And if you’re a salesperson, master the rules of engagement. It never ceases to amaze me that people in business fail to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to them when a customer calls or walks into their store wanting to buy. In these challenging times, the power of engagement can help you get to the one word in business that you seek: Profit. Want a few real smart questions? Well, since everyone sells something different, I’ll give you the lead-ins to the questions and you adapt them to whatever you sell. Fair enough? Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter the words SMART QUESTIONS in the GitBit box. By Jeffrey Gitomer

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