When you’re selling a product, be it a snazzy car or a box of kettle corn, customers only understand its true value by trying it. They rev the engine, drive the car, and kick the tires. They taste the kettle corn and reach for more.
Find a way to incorporate this into your sales strategy, no matter what you have to offer.
It’s one thing to explain something, to wave a chart around, and to talk about how a person’s life will be enhanced if they buy your product. But if they touch the fabric, hear the clear tones of a piano (or better yet, sit down and play a song), savor the dark chocolate, or smell the cinnamon-scented wreath, you can just about guarantee a sale.
The very successful Whole Foods grocery store has taught its produce people what to do when you ask “How is the cantaloupe? Are the peaches ripe yet?” Before you’ve finished your sentence, the produce person has a knife out and says “Let’s try it.” Soon you’re both snacking on a juicy peach. He or she has made a sale because you’ll certainly fill up a sack, but other people will try it too, people who may not have known they needed peaches. It’s a universal, openhanded, and generous gesture to share food with other people, the opposite of the crabby punitive sign that announces “You break it, you buy it.”
It’s obvious that when someone can try your product, you have a much better chance of selling it. How else could you apply this philosophy?
First, you have to have a product that you believe in, one that’s good, solid, something you would want yourself. Why would you sell junk? You would never get a second sale.
If you invest a little of yourself in the product and in the sale, customers will be happy to pull out their credit cards and they won’t feel guilty when they get home. Here are some examples:
- If you’re selling houses, you’re already dealing with someone who wants to buy. You’ve studied their likes and dislikes and taken notes on what they consider important in a new home. Being part psychologist, you also know they’ll toss that list if they spot a stunning garden room, a huge rock fireplace, or built-in bookshelves. You know they’ll be looking at many places, so make this one house memorable. You could give them a blank layout of the house on paper and encourage them to “furnish” it by sketching in where they would place their own furniture. If you can tell they like the house, take a digital photo of them sitting in that garden room or in front of the leaded glass front door and e-mail it to them that evening, along with a thanks-for-looking note. What you want to do is help them see themselves happy in that house.
- If you have a high-end cosmetic line in a department store, try to carve out a space for “makeovers” that’s slightly hidden from the hustle and bustle of the store traffic, with flattering light. Most women don’t want to be seen without mascara and lipstick. Serve some coffee or even wine if that’s allowed; make it social. As your cosmetic expert helps the customer enhance her features with your products, she should also be teaching her the best ways to apply makeup and introducing new products. The customer should be given a lot of choices and feel free to handle the test products as if she were at home. It isn’t far from that to a sale. If she buys or doesn’t, send her away with a few giveaways of the line she is interested in.
- Walking into a computer store can feel like an IQ test to many people over 40. If someone who’s already slightly intimidated is met by a bright young person who uses words such as “Bluetooth” or “terminal adaptor” or “SCS1,” they may be back in the parking lot before you know it. Choose and train your staff well to put all your customers at ease. They should be good “people readers” who can talk on a level the customer understands, without feeling the salesperson is being condescending. You don’t want to just make one computer sale; since electronics have a short life, you want to build a relationship where the customer comes back to your store over and over. Now the hands-on part: Get them to start using a piece of equipment quickly; let them be successful from the start. And check in on them to make sure they are not sitting there feeling confused. The salesperson should always aim at establishing a personal relationship with customers.
The point is that you’re more likely to make a sale and keep a customer if they actually get to use the product and see that it works well (or tastes good). Help them feel comfortable using it. Then send them away with something that will help them remember your store and your products.