Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you possessed a specific need, but felt very vulnerable when offering information? The first thing that comes to my mind is taking my car to the auto repair center. Clearly I am there to have something done to my car. However, to not look ignorant I act like I know what needs to be done and offer very little information. I do this because I have the sneaky suspicion that they are going to rip me off, or overcharge me for their services. The simple facts are that I know nothing about car repair and the person who can help me has not yet gained my trust.
This is exactly how many of your customers feel when they enter your store for the first time. It all goes back to the disconnection between sales associate and customer that I spoke about in last month’s article.
After reading that article, you now possess the skills to connect with your customer by offering a service that benefits them and helping them relax. Now they will be open to listening to what you have to say, but guess what: many of them still do not trust you.
At this point it is vital for you to establish a bond of trust with your customer, so the information will flow more freely and things will be more efficient. You do this by creating a clear and effective approach to meeting your customer’s needs by communicating effectively.
The best way I can think of to illustrate this is by sharing a car repair experience of mine, where my tires were sliding when it began to rain. In this story you will see with clarity how trust can quickly be established.
As I entered the store I explained to the first guy my situation. He proceeded to offer a long-winded explanation using his knowledge, skills and plenty of foreign terms, like “popcorn in my tires.” This was followed with the closing line that my tires needed to be replaced. I left feeling like I was being taken advantage of and, needless to say, no tires were replaced that day.
The next day the problem with my tires presented itself again. I went back to the same place and asked for help. I shared with a new salesman my previous experience and told him that nobody that I had talked with had ever heard the term “popcorn in your tire.” The salesman then proceeded to walk me to my car. He pointed at the wear on my tread and showed me where some wire was breaking through the surface. He then followed it up with these words, “I bet you are sliding around like crazy when the roads are wet, aren’t you? You got popcorn in your tire and they need to be replaced.” How did he know that? I did not share that with him. Without hesitation I replaced the tired and have continued to go there with all my tire needs. Trust begets loyalty.
So, let’s recap the situation. Two guys told me the exact same thing. In truth, the first guy seemed a lot more knowledgeable, but he was unable to gain my trust, and thus my business. They both were confident, knowledgeable and skilled enough to assist me. What the second guy did that was more effective was create a visual of the situation which made it very clear that my tires needed to be replaced. This assured me that I could trust him and that he was looking out for my best interest. My last two visits there have been quick and easy because the bond of trust has been established. I was now a simple-minded customer.
The important lesson to learn is that understanding product knowledge and selling skills will only get you so far on today’s sales floor. It’s the ability to connect with people and build trust that will set you apart and bring you greater success. Sure, product knowledge and selling skills are important, but I will take someone who can connect with customers over a product guru or a selling shark any day of the week. This is an area that we as an industry have failed to focus on until now.
Someone who can connect with their customer will be more effective in giving their customer a pleasant experience. Have you ever witnessed a product guru’s presentation? Can you say marathon?!! By the end of their rant, the customer would rather stick a pencil in their ear than have to listen to any more knowledge. Sure, they may have closed the sale, but that customer will most likely not be returning to see them again. Meanwhile, they did not even realize that they missed a $10,000 sale opportunity while they were selling that $300 opal pendant for two hours. The sales associate who can connect with people would have closed that opal sale in 15 minutes or less. It’s that simple.
In my seminars I call this the “look-at-me-sales-associate” and every time people in the audience will begin to giggle because we all have witnessed one.
In order to establish trust, you must be able to speak clearly and effectively to your customer’s needs. This assures them that you are a professional and that you want to help them.
I encourage you to explore this insight in greater detail by using the self-examination skills I teach about. Your homework for this month is to read my article entitled “The Power of Self Examination,” which can be found at www.SouthernJewelryNews.com and www.MidAmericaJewelryNews.com under columnist Brian Barfield. This article will give you the skills necessary to implement this new knowledge and insight and help you connect with your customers.
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