There are many people who were fortunate enough, often without much education, to move into jobs that paid well and provided a good retirement. It would appear that many of these jobs have disappeared. In addition, consumers have transferred much of their trust from the salesperson to the Internet. The role of the salesperson has been altered.
Salespeople have long been in a position to provide important product and service information to inquiring customers. Now, customers ask their friends or get information from many social media outlets. Let’s face it: A good salesperson has to think differently now. Salespeople are still part of the equation but must see themselves as more than salespeople. Having an entrepreneurial spirt will help.
As entrepreneurs, we are always looking for ways to find new business and come up with new ideas, and we realize that we can make or break a business. A successful entrepreneur is always looking for ways to understand his or her customers and find ways to become a trusted confidant.
I believe that anyone who receives compensation for a job is a partner. Many people often say, “I just work here,” implying that they have no say or effect on the business. These days, everyone needs to realize they have an effect on the business, and the customer certainly does care what they have to say.
Whether it is online or in the store, customers are seeking them out for advice, information and as a connection. Changing the salesperson’s role will have a tremendous effect on your business.
Here are some thoughts on how to take the employee-employer relationship you currently have and forge it into a new partnership:
- Ask your salespeople daily about their customers. What did they find out, what do they know and what changes do they think you should make in your business? Learning how to be inquisitive is one of the skills that should be taught. More than ever, it’s important to know how the customers got into your store and how the Internet has affected their decision to purchase.
- Encourage salespeople to seek new ways of engaging customers—new ones as well as existing ones. It’s likely that the satisfied customer will be your link to your next customer, since 90 percent of your business is from referrals.
- Engage and teach your salespeople skills that will help them connect with their customers. These days, whoever gets to the customer first will probably win. Getting there first means getting to them before they get into your store. Once they’ve connected to the customer, the salesperson must be building a marketing plan to stay in touch and link to the next customer.
- Determine what tools your salespeople will need in order to continue to become the customer’s partner. Will it be contests, holding events in your store or writing a blog to engage the customer?
All of our roles have changed; it’s no more business as usual. A partnership implies helping each other achieve goals and bringing more talent and expertise to the table. How will this work in your business?
Lisbeth Calandrino has been providing consulting and training for businesses for over 20 years. If you would like to book a consultation or have her speak with your team, reach her at 518-495-5380.