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Large_uncle-samThe Adage "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" Doesn’t Work for Retail

In the last two days I have had the same conversation with two entrepreneurs who've been saying: "When I’m not here my customers want to know where I am and when I’ll be back. Customers just want me!"

This is both good news and bad news. The good news is you’re important to your customers. The bad news: you’re important to your customers. If you’re the only one customers ask for it’s likely your business will be in trouble — unless you want to be in your store all the time. You must be able to understand the process of customer service and then train your salespeople, or you will be forever “stuck” in your business. Not only will you be stuck but you’ve actually lowered the value of your business. If the business can’t run without you you’ll never be able to sell it. In other words, without you there is no business.

The reality is that some business owners love being the center of their businesses; others don’t realize they are the center of their businesses. Growing a business is not easy; in the beginning it may be fun; lots of people coming in, asking for you and then buying your products. But if you’re the only one they want to buy from, look out.

Building a business is building relationships with customers. If the customer doesn’t like you it’s doubtful that she/he will buy your products. The data suggests that the male customer doesn’t need a strong relationship with the salesperson. Traditionally men prefer to capture, not hunt. If you’re all about capturing you need to keep your eye positioned on the target and go in for the kill. This is a singular experience, and may the best man win. 

Women on the other hand traditionally enjoy the hunt. They like to look, compare, uncover and then determine if it’s worth capturing. If they don’t find what they want, they continue the hunt. If it’s not perfect a woman will go home empty handed and go back to hunt the next day. This is why women do their own hunting; how can you trust someone to buy the right thing unless they’ve searched and compared?

The word “capture” is rarely used by women. On the other hand, “going hunting” is part of their vocabulary. When you are on the hunt, you use all the resources available; this includes the salesperson. This is where customer service comes into play.
Women seek customer service experiences, not sales experiences. A female shopper will make friends with the salesperson — particularly if the salesperson is female. By the end of the transaction it’s likely they will be planning a luncheon engagement or meeting for coffee. The relationship is not about the transaction; it’s about two people sharing their likes, dislikes and in many instances their lives. Where salespeople screw up is thinking the transaction is just a onetime event and it’s all about the products.

Being liked by the customer is the essence of the business. Remember 80% of new business comes from existing customers.

Why let a customer disappear after the sale? They are your link to the next customer. If they can’t remember you how will they remember to tell their friends? The adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder" doesn’t work for retail.

Consider the following:

  • Are you building relationships with your customers after the sale? 
  • Do you hold events to bring your customers back? 
  • Are you watching your salespeople with customers, how are they doing? 
  • Are you teaching your salespeople what you know about people? 
  • Do your salespeople act like they care about the customers? 
  • Do they show the same caring you show? 
  • Are customers calling asking for your employees?
  • Do your salespeople talk about your product warrantees, give out product literature and let the customer try out your products?
  • Are you getting e-mail addresses from customers to keep them up to date with discounts, products and other information that will help them?

Remember your last sale is the link to your next sale.

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