Recognize who they are and what they need, then sell accordingly
You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can categorize customers
within a few minutes of conversation, says Kate Peterson of Performance
Concepts LLC, a Seattle, WA, company that provides education and training
Teach your sales associates to take a few minutes before they start
to sell to chat with a customer to find out where he or she fits
among the following three basic categories.
You know the type: they come into the store with business cards from 10
other stores with diamond grades scrawled across the back. They're tirelessly
searching for the greatest value, and they think they know exactly what
- Strategy: "Get him to realize there's something he doesn't
know without making him aware you're doing it," says Peterson. Tell
the customer how refreshing it is to deal with somebody who's done his
homework. Instead of letting him concentrate on the grade specifications,
ask what message he's trying to convey with his purchase. Most importantly,
don't be condescending: this customer wants to believe he has the upper
Romanticist With a Purpose
It's anniversary time, or birthday, or Christmas and this customer
hasn't done his shopping. Most of the time this customer will simply say
"I'm looking for something nice for a special occasion." He's
usually not price driven and is truly interested in the salesperson's suggestions.
- Strategy: Here's an opportunity to show some of your best products
and discuss beauty and quality before price. "Price shouldn't come
up before the customer brings it up," says Peterson. In these cases,
ask a lot of questions to discover the customer's true needs, and talk
up the product to build expectations and create a sense of value when price
is finally mentioned.
Lookers Who Need To Be Led
How many times a day do you hear "I'm just looking" from people
wandering into your store? "Nobody's just looking; they just haven't
made a conscious decision to buy and they don't know what they want,"
- Strategy: When they here those three words, most salespeople
either back away and let the customer look around or lead the customer
to something that's an "easy sale," says Peterson. The challenge
is to approach lookers without scaring them away or making them feel like
you're hovering. Engage them in conversation or show them your most spectacular
piece of jewelry to get the ball rolling, she says. In the meantime, never
let a person who is waiting for a watch battery replacement or a small
repair stand idly at the back of the store; use the opportunity to show
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.