Solving a Customer’s Problems

That’s how I define selling. As I understand it when a customer enters my store, he or she is there for a reason. We are not located in a shopping center and in fact are a destination store that faces a very busy expressway. With the exception of automobile dealers, there is really no other retail store within a mile of my store.  This makes it very unlikely that a person walking into my store is just killing time.

Much has been said about how to welcome a customer when first approaching them. Personally, I find that asking them about the weather does nothing to build the relationship and most importantly it does not build the trust required to assure that we will get the sale. Of course, if it is snowing and twelve degrees without the wind chill outside it can be assumed that the person walking in the store is a serious customer otherwise they would be home in front of their fireplace.

My goal is simple. First, I want to find out why the customer has come to my store. Have they bought from us in the past, were they referred to us and/or did they see one of our ads. I also want to know exactly what they are looking for. We carry a large array of products ranging from synthetic carpet to custom cabinetry. Unless I understand the scope of their project I cannot solve their problem. Now comes the fun part.

Our business has been in the same location for 57 years and we are a fixture in the local community. Over the years I have developed relationships with all types of local business people. In my opinion nothing puts a customer more at ease and develops trust than the ability to refer other local businesses when a potential customer has a problem. Specific examples include the customer who comes in with their daughter to re-carpet her bedroom because the bright pink carpet that was installed when she was two is not appropriate for a fifteen year old. Bingo, bells and whistles go off and I inquire whether they are repainting the walls that feature Winnie the Pooh! If the answer is yes, then I believe that you can develop the trust needed to ultimately make the sale by letting the customer know that you would be happy to recommend a couple of local painters that you know do great work.  The worst thing that can happen is that they already have a painter and your offer is politely declined. The best possible outcome is that they need a painter and did not have any idea how to find a good one. Problem solved.

In the same scenario I would also guess that the window treatments in the bedroom will be changing in addition to the wall color. Did I mention we are a Hunter Douglas Gallery Dealer and I would be happy to help find the perfect window treatment to compliment their new carpet? It is amazing how one project can lead to another. It is also amazing how many people just make the carpet sale and send the customer off into the abyss and never get the opportunity to make the add on sale because they did not take the time to find out the entire scope of the customer’s project. Finally, I know that they will get a great paint job and I will in return have the opportunity for both a referral from the customer in addition to the painter!

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