Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Extra Mile – Meeting Three – Shop Salesmanship

The last entry (Meeting Two – Pre-service) discussed the fact that many PGA pros that I have known that are in charge of golf shop staffs are put off by any serious discussion of salesmanship as possibly being perceived by members or guests as ‘hard sell’ and put off accordingly. I recently googled retail salesmanship in preparation for writing about a staff meeting that would discuss in-shop salesmanship and came across an article called “7 Truths of Retail Selling” written by Chip Averwater. I thought I would use these truths as themes for our meeting as could the Leader at your meeting.

  Truth 1.   Good salesmanship begins before the customer arrives.

               Salesmanship is 10% presentation, 90% preparation                                                     

“We need to have a compelling presentation of product in order to inspire the customer.”

“We should rehearse helping customers. The first step should be learning about the products and practicing communication. Our FootJoy rep on his last visit volunteered to provide a product knowledge seminar for the staff.”

“We should wear what we sell - most vendors agree and seem to want to help us accomplish this.”

    Truth 2.   Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

Great salespeople are easy to spot – they engage the customer and then listen when they speak.

“We should resist the temptation to tell the customer all we know until we have heard their needs and concerns.”

“We should ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the customer’s answer. A customer who is talking isn’t listening we should empathetically listen and then address his or her needs as best we can with our suggestions.”

“People buy from those they grow to like and create a relationship with – listening conveys empathy and is an important relationship builder.”

Truth 3.     An eagerness to help is the solution to the eagerness to sell.

This truth clearly distinguishes the difference between service and hard-sell.

We don’t always need to be selling our product to be helpful; customers that feel genuinely serviced become loyal customers. We want to bring the expertise and trust we have at the lesson tee onto the floor of the shop.

“The most effective way to sell is to focus on the customer’s needs. Find out what they are, who the product is for, how it will be used and what criteria he has in mind for it. That information allows you to suggest products you honestly believe will meet his needs. When he sees you are genuinely interested in helping him he will open up, work with you and want to buy from you.”

 Truth 4.     Nothing sells like a personal relationship.

 When possible, customers - certainly members - should be welcomed to the shop by name and in the same  manner they would be welcomed to your home.

 “Customers rationalize their buying decisions on many factors - price, brand, service, warranty, etc. –     
       but the key criterion is often a salesperson they have come to know, like and trust."

        Good retail salespeople work to build these relationships; they profile their customers as to occupations and   hobbies, likes and dislikes, backgrounds and family.
        There is software now that profiles golfers down to what clubs are in their bag and when was it last    gripped.
         After any sale follow-up goes a long way to creating a loyal customer.
          Truth 5.     There’s no magic close.

“Retailers often talk about ‘closing’ as if what the salesperson says at the end of the conversation makes everything that came before it irrelevant. There is no magic phrase that causes customers to buy indiscriminately. A customer buys when all the pieces are in place: he has a need: the need is correctly identified; the correct products are intelligently shown; the customer believes a product is a good match for the need; the customer feels the price is fair, the money is available, etc.

True, once an appropriate product is identified and properly explained the salesperson should ask if it’s correct and what else needs to be done to facilitate the sale. Many customers need that focus and

Obviously none of this can properly happen from behind the counter.

  Truth 6.    A return policy is a tool, not a rule.

“The purpose of a return policy is to encourage sales, not to limit when and how a customer can return something they are unhappy with.”

“Take it with you. If you don’t like it you back.” Smart retailers don’t reluctantly offer a return policy – they promote and advertise it. Not only does it create more sales, but if a customer is unhappy with something they’ve bought, you don’t want him to keep it and be continually reminded of the unsuccessful experience with your shop.

“Forget about the few who abuse a return policy and focus on the 99% who will buy more because of the reassurance. If returned merchandise isn’t damaged, the cost is still negligible.

Truth 7.      Just because they don’t complain doesn’t mean they’re happy.

“Customers don’t like to be complainers. Most would rather stew in their dissatisfaction, tell their friends and neighbors about it, swear off any further business with you than tell you they’re unhappy.”

Our market is our membership. Our reputation is our continuing success.                                                   
Let’s do a survey!

Waiting to meet friends in a pro shop recently, there was an assistant pro on the phone who never acknowledged my presence or even looked my way. I roamed the entire shop as I usually do and stopped a number of times to ponder the merchandise inquisitively. Ten minutes later my friends arrived as we made our way into the bar the assistant was still with his call. Interestingly the bartender knew one of my buddies and began making him a stinger before he sat down while inquiring as to his friend’s names and libations of choice. My guess is that the golf shop and bar are not run by the same person and that if you brought up the subject of customer service with the golf pro he would probably tell you about budget cuts. One thing I don’t have to guess about is that I am not buying anything from his first assistant.

I was on my way to an Orioles game about a year ago and my friend asked if I could wait a few minutes while he got a haircut. I was sitting in the salon and the owner came over, introduced himself and asked if I would like a glass of wine while I waited. I thanked him and said that would be great and he asked if I wanted red or white. I answered red. A few days ago – same situation – same friend – same need for a haircut - only a year later. I’m flipping through a magazine and the owner shakes my hand and says “red, right”. I’m thinking this is where I should start getting my haircut.

The Extra Mile - Meeting Four - will be about follow up.