Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Retail selling: Three things that elevate a buying experience to the extraordinary

Over the last one week, I have had occasion to observe three wonderful and unique salespersons in action; each selling a different product and each ensuring that the buying experience was extra ordinary. I have been immensely impressed with each of them. As the products were being sold to the person I was with, I had the unique opportunity to completely observe and imbibe their selling strategies. If I were to analyse each of these three experiences, three lessons have been driven home to me.

1.  Story telling as a way of customer engagement:
The first pit stop - A branded store renowned for its premium and luxury writing pens.
The requirement - A fountain pen
I almost gave this store a miss, and was egged into the store by my companion. I cry myself hoarse in retail training sessions that story telling is a means of capturing the customer’s interest. I saw it in action and made me a firm believer. Little known stories of brands that I can scarce pronounce, let alone afford. However it got me interested enough to take a tour of the store for myself. The best part: the stories of the luxury/ premium brands did not stop when it was clear that our intention to purchase stopped with pens of very nominal value i.e. nominal for the store, not for us. 
Do those stories have drawing power to take me back to the store? Definitely yes. This master story teller cast a sensory spell around the experience of something as mundane as purchasing a writing pen, elevating the buying experience to a few notches above the ordinary to the extra ordinary.

2. Patience:

The second pit stop - a regular footwear store
The requirement - A pair of formal shoes
Having been disillusioned by the choices available and the salespersons in some of the branded stores offering formal shoes, we decided to take a chance in this store. What we received was painstaking patience on the part of the salesperson. Pair after pair of shoes brought out to try on, till the right comfort, fit and looks were obtained. He never gave up in the face of the customer’s exacting requirements. Always offering more choices, even if it meant getting them from the backroom. Only to be rewarded by the smile of a satisfied customer who has finally got the product of his desires. 
Would I return to the store? A resounding yes: I felt a valued customer.

3. Understanding customer needs & communicating product benefits to suit the needs:

The third pit stop – a leading branded sports footwear store  
The requirement - A pair of running/ walking shoes
This master salesperson sold us a pair of premium running shoes, at a price which was double of what we had in mind. How did he do this? 
  • First he understood the customer’s requirements for the shoe. Then he offered a vast range of choices: about 5-6 at least.
  • Secondly, he took just one shoe design, explained 3 unique features and their benefits. He linked these benefits to the customer’s requirement for the shoe.T
  • Thirdly, he never downgraded any of the other shoe designs. Only pointed out different benefits of each, ultimately ending in how this particular shoe design is so unique and so suited to the customer.

Needless to say, we were sold. Never mind that we had just exceeded our budgeted price by double. 
Would I want to return to this store? Yes, since I know that the salesperson is confident and knowledge about his products and is not selling for selling sake, he is selling what the customer needs.

Three different stores, three different salesperson, three different learning’s to take home. Each with the potential to elevate a regular purchase to the level of an extraordinary sensory experience for the customer.