Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Art Of The Soft Sell

Photo from Container Store
The Soft-Sell is back. Many businesses are using customer centered selling tactics to build loyalty,  revenues and to increase return visits.

If you've ever shopped at an Apple Store, you already have experienced this type of selling, at least from the receiving end. At Apple, customers can attend ongoing screenings about the latest iPhone or get free technical help from the Genius Bar.

At a Container Store, sales associates are screened for problem-solving ability, affability, creativity, and experiences that will help them connect with their customers, who are mostly women in their mid-30s to mid-60s. Sales staff then go through many hours of training to help them excel at the light and informative touch. Rather than working on commission, full-time salespeople start at an annual salary of roughly $45,000, about 50% to 100% more than most retailers pay.

On the surface, that may not sound groundbreaking, treat your customers well, figure out what they want, give them information about your product, and sell them something you care about.

But wrapping it all together and persuading your sales folks not to obsess over, well, sales, is something different: customer-centric or consultative sales. A customer centered sales process emphasizes a low-pressure environment that lets your sales staff act as consultants, offering information and showing how your product or service can help solve a customer's problem. The end goal of customer centered sales is not only to boost sales and trumpet your brand but also to make customers happy they picked your store, building the foundation for future sales.

Consultative sales has its roots in the early history of retail, when our grandparents went to buy something from the local five and dime, where they probably knew the name of the clerk who retrieved their items and told them how much they cost. But the art of the low-pressure sale got lost somewhere on the way to the big payoff, and in the mid-1990s, big companies realized they were jeopardizing their relationships with customers, and the possibility of repeat sales, by being overly transaction-oriented.

Today, companies both big and small are rethinking the way they sell their products.  Customers like to buy what you do in a store.  It's a mistake to think customers simply purchase a product or service. They are buying an entire process, including the customer service, the knowledge of the salespeople, and the quality of the interaction leading up to the sale.

When it comes to a soft sale for your business printing let MI Printing help you understand and meet your needs.  Just give us a call at 623.582.1302 and see what we can do for your business.

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MI Printing
Phone: 623.582.1302