Shop assistant: Hello, can I help you?
Vivian: I was in here yesterday, you wouldn’t wait on me.
Shop assistant: Oh.
Vivian: You people work on commission, right?
Shop assistant: Yeah.
Vivian: Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.
If there is one thing I have learned in the world of selling over the past 18 years that I have been involved in it, it is to never, EVER, judge your prospects and customers. The above quote is a great example, and you may recognise it from the famous scene from the movie Pretty Woman, when Vivian, a call girl, walked into a high-class ladies wear store, with lots of bags of designer shopping, having been refused service the previous day because she wasn’t dressed appropriately.
When I used to work in a large investment bank, I was surprised every day by the behaviour of my various customers. Surprised in that my expectations of what they would do versus what they actually did, regularly differed. Supposedly small clients gave more regular trade than supposedly large customers.
People in the banking world or financial advisors, have to go through a process of KYC – Know Your Customer. But this applies to all businesses, whatever you do.
How much time do you actually spend getting to know your customer?
One of the very best salesmen I have ever come across, was a guy called Charles B. He used to wait on me at one of the UK’s leading menswear retailers. When I first met him, I had gone into the shop because I needed to buy a pair of trousers. That first time I went in, I left having spent over £1,000
Charles’ approach to selling was to take a completely holistic view of his customer. He did not ask the typical shop assistant question “How can I help you?” – No – he would ask me what event I was getting ready for; what part of my wardrobe am I having trouble with right now (i.e.. casual, smart casual, formal, or super-formal). He would draw me into a conversation that would go something like this:
Charles: Hello Sir, I’m Charles. How are you doing today, are you planning something special or just looking to add some versatility to your wardrobe? Are you having trouble choosing what to wear in the morning?
Me: Well, actually yes, I just don’t have any trousers that I really like. I have jeans, and I have suits, but I want some casual slacks for when Jeans are just to casual.
Charles: No problem Sir, why don’t you step right into the changing room, and I’ll bring you 5-6 pieces for you to try on. What kind of knitwear, and shirts do you tend to wear, just so I can get an idea of the styles you are comfortable with? You’re a size 32 waist, and small for shirts/tops right? What is your name Sir?
Jason: It’s Jason. Yes that’s my size. I tend to wear fitted shirts, block colours like white or blue – I try not to be too loud or ostentatious.
Charles: Okay, stay there Jason, and I’ll sort you out with an outfit. You don’t have to buy everything, I just want you to see how you would look with what you already have in your wardrobe at home.
I would then spend the next 2 hours in the changing room. I’d never step out of it. Not once. Charles would even bring me water to keep my hydrated (you know what it’s like in changing rooms – HOT!)
Charles would bring me trousers, along with shirts, shoes and jackets (that I hadn’t come into buy) just so that I could ‘try them on’. He would emphasise how I feel and then bring more clothes so I could feel even more. He made me look good, and that made me feel good. He said that I didn’t have to buy ALL the clothes.
But I DID have to buy them, because he found the best pieces in the shop that suited my taste. He even sold me my first ever PINK sweater! That first visit I left with trousers, shirts, sweaters and shoes. Oh, and a belt. I bought it all, because what he also did was ask me to wear all the items in different combinations. White shirt with the navy trousers. Then the black trousers with a green sweater. Then the green sweater with the white shirt, and navy trouser etc… showing me that I wasn’t just buying one outfit, I was buying multiple outfits. He showed me that in fact my money was going to stretch to six-times the amount it would have if I had just bought without his help. I would buy 8 pieces, but have 64 different possible combinations to wear them.
He judged me better than I judged myself when I walked into the shop. I say “trousers”, he says “Get in the changing room”. He sorted out my entire season of clothing in one visit. I didn’t need to go to another shop for 6 months…..and when I did, you can bet I went back to see Charles.
Try to remove the “How can I help you?” vocabulary, and think of alternatives, and properly engage with your customers. Get to Know Your Customer the Charles B. way. My sales guru Zig Ziglar, (R.I.P), would be proud of him.
Oh, by the way, Charles B. now runs a very successful jewellery company called Bead Brothers.
I’m always amazed at how course providers of professional qualifications spend no time educating their students on making a living. Architects, Doctors, Dentists, Chiropractors, Lawyers, Accountants can train for between 6-7 years (roughly between 1500-1750 days of studying for degree and professional qualification training) before getting that nice certificate on the wall.
And out of those 1500+ days of blood sweat and tears, how many days are dedicated to business development training? Zero, Nada, zilch. Not a one.
So it’s hardly surprising so many professionals struggle to make ends meet. I was speaking at an event this week. It was to a group of about 35 driving instructors. I asked them all, “How many of you have had, during the course of you getting your driver trainer training, any sales or marketing advice. How many of you have had an hour/day/half day covering ‘building your own business’?.
Only one person put their hand up, and even then, he said that it was a very brief talk. These guys had invested hours and days and a lot of their own money, to become trainers – but had no idea how to get the wheels turning (that’s pretty ironic for driving instructors, don’t you think?)
If you have taken a course towards a professional qualification, your next step is to invest some time (and perhaps some dollars) into getting your business turning.
There are some fantastic books you can buy like:
Zig Ziglar’s – Secrets of Closing the Sale
Michael Port’s – Book yourself solid
C.J. Hayden’s – Get Clients NOW! ™
And you can also visit the homepage of , Eco Business Academy, for a free tutorial every week. (half way down on the right – look for This Week’s Training Video)
If you are on a course already, and think that you and your fellow students could benefit from this ESSENTIAL business marketing training, ask your course leader to contact their favourite business coach (or myself) to come and give a talk, or host some webinars on the topic.
Calling all chiropractors, accountants, lawyers, personal trainers, building contractors, plumbers, electricians, real estate agents…..in fact, if you own a small business, then you CANNOT afford to miss the webinar this Thursday at 2pm
We will be covering the 5 step proven formula that all small business owners need to know to grow their business and their profits, and how YOU can apply this to your own business.
Tickets are valued at £65 (approx $100), but if you make sure you use the discount code EcoBiz100, you will get a 100% discount. (I.e. a free ticket)