Don’t call the cops! I’m not stalking you, but I did stop by for an inspection. When it comes to increasing sales and profits, nothing trips up the flow of commerce faster than the absence of a positive first impression.
When a person makes the decision to buy, they are unknowingly retracing their steps from the moment they stepped foot into your store, until the point where they find themselves standing at the counter. Everything in between must remain congruent with their initial perception upon entry. Even before they break the threshold, and that little bell hanging above the frame jingles notifying you that a potential money spender has arrived, your message is being broadcasted in hi-def surround sound.
Your business does not simply exist. It tells a story, and if the story’s chapters fail to unravel into a solid plot, you’ll begin to lose business faster than you can make the necessary edits. In plain English, if the outside of your building is run down, ragged, and has forty coats of paint on it dating back to the early 70’s, you’d better not attempt to sell high-end jewelry!
Just the opposite applies as well, if your store front resembles that of something you may find cruising down Rodeo Drive, and your in-store selection consists of mediocre jewelry sprinkled with below average stones, you can expect your sales numbers to sink.
As consumers, we swipe our credit cards to make the purchase final, but the selling process begins with using all of our senses. The colors, textures, layout, smells and organization of displays should all be included in your predetermined sales journey.
The word journey best describes the process in which a person goes from wanting something to owning it. Remember those “choose your own destiny books?” The ones where you decided which path to follow, and the decisions you made determined the overall ending of the story. When a prospect or customer first drives past your storefront or lands on your website while surfing the web, at that moment, the journey begins. They will ultimately choose their next path, but there are an abundance of tactics you can employ to help guide them on their journey.
1) Lower cost items placed up front
When is someone most inclined to pick something up and make a purchase? The farther back they move in your store, the faster the brain is sending signals to the body directing them to turn around. The end has been reached, and the there is no more room to move forward. But at that same moment, the customer is thinking that they have to buy something!
They came all this way, and what a waste of time if they left empty-handed. They rush to find something that both interests them, and is within their price range. Plus, the person standing at the register is watching them, and that adds even more pressure to make a purchase. The shopper eagerly looks around, but they are surrounded by high-priced items that they can’t afford.
Finally, they take action, and begin to move toward the exit. As they are leaving, they notice a moderately priced scarf hanging toward the front of the store. They grab it, feel the finally woven fibers, and put it back on the hanger. They walk swiftly out of the door, and their journey continues. As they travel to the next shop the woman who handled the scarf leans over and says to the other, “I would have bought that scarf, but I didn’t want to waste the time walking back to the register.”
2) Outdated magazines in waiting area
This is one of my biggest pet peeves, and is usually paired with medical offices and attorneys. Never leave outdated reading materials out for your client’s enjoyment. That’s like walking out into the waiting room and telling them that you could care less about their time. Stocking a waiting area with current reading material is insanely simple, yet it is one of the most overlooked details in business. Even worse, is when those magazines are tattered and torn!
Do yourself a favor and subscribe to some commonly read national, as well as local publications. Have them sent directly to the office, and toss them neatly on the coffee table after you grab them out of the mailbox. A quick and easy fix that leads your customers to believe that you care…
And hopefully you do!
3) Overwhelming smells
I’m super sensitive to overwhelming perfumes or cologne. I start to sneeze, and my throat begins to itch. I don’t know if it’s an allergic reaction or what, but it sends me running out of from the scene like a convict! Sucks for me, but it was your job to make me feel comfortable. What you like to smell throughout the day is of no concern to me. Your goal is to make your customers spend as much time as they can looking at your products or listening to your sales pitch.
By infusing the air, especially in confined spaces, with strong odors, you are limiting the number of repeat visitors. People remember smells! We all remember an old girlfriend’s perfume, or the smell of a newborn baby’s skin. Scents have been known to trigger all sorts of emotions ranging from fear, lust, anger and sadness.
Do you want your store associated with any of those feelings?
Well, maybe lust, but the others are pretty bad for business!
4) Failure to acknowledge a welcomed customer
I want you to start taking notice of when a person welcomes you into their place of business. It’s probably not as often as you would like to think. Common courtesy in this country is fading like a spring rainbow.
And it’s disappearing even faster in the world of business!
Be sure to train your staff on proper customs and courtesies. Institute a “Yes sir”, “No ma`am” policy. If a man or woman would rather you not refer to them in that manner, they will politely introduce themselves using their first name. But I’d rather be corrected than viewed as disrespectful!
Also, always look at someone in the eyes when you greet them. The eyes tell the story of the soul. That may sound dumb, but think back to when you gazed into someone’s eyes who was excited. Maybe a child after opening a present on their birthday, or a co-worker who just received word of a promotion!Remember the twinkle? That subtle detail could motivate a well-trained salesman to really crank up the enthusiasm. On the same note, misery loves company, so if someone walks into your store and is down, maybe it’s OK for your sales staff to throttle back the joy cannons, and start figuring out what seems to be bothering them.
Appeal to their emotions, and sell more stuff! It’s that easy.
5) Looks like a consignment shop
If you know me, you know I love poppin’ tags at the local consignment shops. But there is absolutely no reason for the inside of your store to resemble a hodgepodge of various pieces of furniture. Now if that’s you theme and it’s laid out nicely, than roll with it! But if you were simply trying to avoid buying a matching set of quality furniture in hopes of affording that new Mac Book, then you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Your theme needs to be congruent throughout your place of business. If you have a set of high-end couches perched nicely in the patient waiting area, then be sure to outfit that area with similar quality lamps and other accessories. Don’t cheapen the décor by placing tacky advertising material in a basket at the foot of every chair. No cheap plastic pens or laser printed mini footballs! Spend the extra cash and develop some marketing freebies that convey success. Have a few nice ball-point pens etched with your contact information, and have them lying in individual pen holders placed nicely along the highly polished oak coffee table. Advise your clients that the pen is a gift, and to be sure to tell everyone where you got it.
If you want to be viewed as an intelligent, tech savvy, or top of the line business, your appearance needs to speak the same.
6) Ensure everyone is kept in the loop
Here’s another issue that boils my blood! If you are going to dunk some money promoting a sale in your local newspaper, be sure to inform your sales staff that the promoted event exists. Not only exists, but when it starts, ends, and what products are included. I’ve walked into many a store where the sales associate looked at me like my yellow lab does when I tell her to get off the couch! They are confused by my question, and rush to find out what this mythical sale is that I am speaking of. When they return, they always apologize, and are sure to notify me that their ignorance was not a fault of their own.
“My boss didn’t tell me!”
But at this point, I’ve already lost interest.
Your marketing needs to be a group effort. Not a secret kept between the manager and the marketing department. Before every advertised event, gather everyone into a common meeting area and go over all of the fine details as listed above. Be sure to leave time at the end for questions, or suggestions of ways you could improve the sale for the next month.
No voice should ever be silenced!
You never know who will provide you with that next million dollar idea.
7) Dress for success
I’ll keep this last find short and sweet. If you fail to dress for success, you will never attain it!
Perception is reality.
P.S. Just be yourself! If you try to fake the funk, your customers will notice. ~Andy
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