The Unique Customer Journey

Your company has been successfully working with this wonderful client for years, but today seems a bit different.  Do you handle them the same way as in the past?  Do you start asking questions to learn what is different or do you simply listen a bit harder and slow down.  I vote for the latter, you?  

Truth be told, we must always keep in mind that every time a customer visits your showroom, their path on every purchase path is unique.  Not only is this meeting unique, but every meeting pertinent to this one purchase will be unique.  Your customer still retains the trust, but time moves on and situations change.  Who knows what has happened personally or professionally to any of the players since you last spoke? 

Your main job is not to expose any issues, but engage them in a way that they know you are there to help, listen and learn.  If you start probing and expose issues, you will have to deal with what is exposed.  If that happens, the underlying issue is their trust in you. You are the outsider, therefore, the easy scapegoat. Be carful here.

Am I digging too deep on this?  Most luxury showrooms,, on average, close roughly 35% of its bids.  We can improve that percentage if we improve the way we engage our customers.  
Little things matter.  One little flub can throw a monkey wrench into hard won trust and confidence of an old or new customer.

I think you will agree that every sale is unique. Understand that each time clients enter your showroom they are on a unique journey.  Engage with them to learn all you can. 

I suggest taking a few minutes in your net sales team meeting and discuss this.  This simple awareness is important for your new budding sales heroes to understand.  New salespeople are wrongly looking for repeatable sales processes to follow, and that will not play well in the long run. The best salespeople approach each meeting with an open mind. Their experience has them ready to engage each fresh opportunity and the unique collection of issues that job will drop in their laps. 

Image Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

A version of this post appeared in the January 10 issue of DPHA Connections

Okay, What’s Next?

It is 10am and you have just finished a grueling white paper that you have sweated over for weeks.  Job well done…now what’s next? You could start on the next report, visit your team in the bullpen or any of a hundred other easily quantifiable tasks.  How do you choose?

Gary Keller emphasizes in his book, The One Thing, when we are in a situation where we can decide what to do next, we should ask ourselves what is the one thing that will deliver the best result over time.  That’s it. It could be any of the above or more. Simply take a moment to review your options and get to work on the one you deem the best for all involved.

Simple, right? But I would like to add one more option to this selection process that many of us forget.  Take a break. We all know that multitasking is a term that does not exist in reality but we also forget that we cannot be “on” 24/7.  Work is work and home is home and both require your constant attention. But we need down time. Anything from taking a vacation to just taking a minute to stare out the window.  Let your mind rest, let it go blank. After your break, you will be shocked how much more focused you will be.

So when you have finished that killer project and you are deciding what journey to take your brain on next, add rest as one of the options to choose from.

Some insightfull links:

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

Where is the Space?

So much of bricks and mortar merchandising is about the products we sell.  We vehemently believe we have to have a lot of them. We have to have more than that other company  If we have some empty space, we find something to fill it ASAP. Imagine a pawn shop case versus a product presentation at Tiffany.  The product quality could very well be the same but the presentations are so very different.

Why do we do this??  Is more really better?  Is there to be no place for the customer’s eye to rest and download all these products? 

It is no wonder that people will continually buy the same products over and over.  With such an onslaught of products we are not able to notice something new, something that might be better for me and my needs.  

We have grown so used to going to the store to buy, not shop; we get just what is on our list and get out.  Never thinking to see what might be new and interesting.  

Instead of working to make sure every little space is drenched in product, why not focus on improving the presentations of what sells and where we make more margin.  Big brands are nice but I think making money is better.  

Why not incorporate an interactive screen where customers can swipe to see what is new in the store?  Why not mark new products where they sit on the shelf? The combination of the two will let customers know that you are the source for what is new and innovative.  

Anybody can show a lot and sell, sell, sell, play the price game and hope to survive on razor-thin margins.  If you work to tell your story and help you customers discover new products, you will set your store apart and above.  Your store will be THE source for product and information. The brand that attracts customers that are looking for new, better and different.  

These customers will pay a bit more for finding the new, the unique, the cool products…not the same old, same old.

Make Sure Everyone Knows

As we start out on our grand plans for the new decade.  Can we make sure to take time to thank all those that help us work to succeed.  We cannot improve in a vacuum. 

Over our journey we will encounter many interesting and talented people.  They will assist you in many ways, some of which never crossed your mind.

When you experience that helping hand, take a few seconds to look them straight in the eye and say thank you.  A simple, sincere gesture accented by two words can make another person’s moment a bit better.

P. S.  Even if they only crossed your life path, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night or Hello is a nice touch.

Should We Wait Or Should We Go?

There has been a lot of speculation on how AR, VR and AI are going to change the way we do business and no one really knows where theses platforms will affect their business next. So, instead of waiting, let’s turn the tables and decide where we would like AR, VR and AI implemented in our businesses.  Where can these amazing toods help improve and simplify your business right now?

Take a moment and meet with your teams and make a list of where they think theses programs can make you better.  Once you have the list go out and talk to people that work in these worlds. Find out what is available, now or in the immediate future and start planning.

Is it better to reach out to learn or stay in the dark wondering what will hit next?

Photo by Marlene Leppänen from Pexels

Thoughts For The First Day of 2020

Over the last decade brick and mortar retail stores rode an incredible wave, yet by decade end the weak had been smashed on the rocks.  Internet retailers had taken enough market share to expose those that had survived selling low margin commodities, poor management and stores with poor retail locations.  This is the formula for disaster in any market with any viable competition. Might I mention all of the e-commerce websites that have also blown up: Pets.com, etc.? A poor business model in any venue or time is a poor business model.

My focus in 2020 is to stop blaming the other guy, store or system for kicking my B-Hind.  If I did not see a new technology coming or was running a poorly constructed model, so be it.  

So if you are fearful of the next wave of something that will overwhelm your business…Catch Up.  Get to know what is coming and prepare. This means making time to explore and learn. Time to improve yourself and better your company.  

Let’s prepare for what is next make this next decade one of success instead of pointing fingers.

Best to all in 2020 and beyond….  Engage.

I always wanted to write that…

Image created by Hakeem James Hausley from Pexels

It’s Holiday Time, Yipee!

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
I hope everybody had a lovely Thanksgiving.  A wonderful holiday allowing American families to pause for one day to celebrate the passing year’s blessings. Then consume mass quantities of delicious food.   

As Thanksgiving fades into memory, Christmas Day is on its way.  The massive barrage of advertisements for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday have passed and they have been replaced by a consistent torrent of emails, ads and banners telling me that I can only have XX% off if I buy now!  It is all so annoying. 

Outside of that noise, I do enjoy holiday shopping.  I love to discover just the right gift for my family and friends.  Each gift I select has deep logic behind it, and I know it is something they never would purchase for themselves and will treasure for years.  I hope to watch them peel back the shiny paper and see a bit of delight on their faces when they discover what it is.  I love that look!  Then sometimes they unwrap the gift and look at me, what the….?  Off to the return counter.

The important thing is that my time searching, not dealing or discounting, is time that I spend thinking about the wonderful people in my life and in small, very small, way give them a bit of Holiday joy.  
 
Happy Holidays!  
 
Ohh, P.S.  As the 2019 Holidays pass, all will turn to talking about 2020.  Before that happens, find a moment and congratulate yourself, yes you, for all the hard work you did in 2019.  Every once in a while, it is good to look in the mirror and say, great job, well done!  Cheers
A version of this article appeared in the December 20, 2019 issue of DPHA Connections.

Tinder In My Showroom?

“I like that but could I see it in this tone of yellow?”  How often have you heard this on your showroom floor?  

This is a question that has been haunting showroom salespeople for decades and, I think, we just might have the answer.  At the 2019 Lightovation show at the Dallas Market Center, a leading luxury lighting manufacturer had strategically placed 4’ x 3’ interactive touch screens amongst its spectacular products.  The screens were programed so the user could simply swipe right to easily move from image to image.  Even amongst hundreds of beautiful lighting fixtures, these screens, with their larger-than-life images, were the draw.  An EXPERIENCE garnered more interest than the actual product.  People would stand and swipe to their heart’s content as the images were quickly delivered from its huge database.  Yes, it was a large screen that was the star of a show attended by the purchasing agents from the top lighting showrooms in the United States and Canada.  Not a specific fixture, product series or brand, but a SCREEN.  Are we focused on our screens or what?

Brick and mortar showrooms are not going away, but if a physical luxury showroom does not incorporate a 21st century experience, that will hurt its image.  Imagine a customer walking into your showroom and heading straight for the interactive screen.  In a matter of minutes, they are flipping through your products as fast as they can swipe.  Customers travel to your showroom to interact with the actual product and still want to be able to see everything imaginable.  They want to experience the best of both the physical and digital worlds in your showroom.

When a customer asks what this faucet looks like in another finish, no problem.  You can show it to them on your 4’ x 3’ screen.  You cannot physically show it all, but you can show a large image of your customer’s dream look by simply accessing your mighty, mighty database. 

The answer is to bring the internet power into your showroom.  Slap a screen on the wall and voila, millions of product images are alive!   Unfortunately, it is not simply plug and play.  It will take some programming, and access to properly configured vendor databases to make this dream a reality.   

When I returned home, I did a little digging and discovered these two “Kiosk” companies.  It seems kiosk is the preferred terminology in the self-serve retail world, as opposed to large touch screens.

Also note, these company’s understand that your screen needs are different from McDonalds and they have programers ready to deliver what will surprise and delight your customers.

I believe kiosks (screens) will be a big showroom draw and expand showroom offerings to infinity and beyond…

A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2019 issue of DPHA’s Connections

In the 20’s Your New Best Friend Will Be In The Cloud. But Will You Have Fun?

As our calendars flip from 2019 to 2020, we bid farewell to the iPhone decade.  Yes, the iPhone was announced on stage by the late Steve Jobs in 2007, but its monumental effect changed the way we lived, worked and played in the last decade.  That (toy) tool enabled Facebook, Twitter and numerous other apps to help, hurt and advise us through our days and it is always by our sides. For many people, their smartphone is their first interaction of the day and the last thing they touch before going to sleep.  It has truly changed the way we live and is poised to remain a large part of our lies in the 2020’s

So where do we and our phones go from here.  Will the 20’s be the decade of iGlass? Everything from our toothbrushes to our homes are completely connected to the internet or automated vehicles take us wherever at the tap of an app.  My guess is that by December 2029 artificial intelligence, AI, will be the glue in all of these deliverables. It will be our constant companion at work helping us create better products and deliver exemplary service.  While we are brushing our teeth the toothbrush will communicate our vitals to our AI in the cloud and it will make sure all is good-to-go for the day. AI will be up there, with us everywhere we go.

Where all this amazing tech will take us, I have not a clue.  But just like each decade before, it will be the most amazing decade ever.  Okay that is where the world around us wants to take us. Where do we want to go in the 2020’s? 

How about more FUN in the 2020’s?  I challenge all this tech and AI to add more jot to our lives?

We have always worked to make life easier, more fulfilling…what about FUN.  Let’s contemplate that. Yes, fun, you know those amazing moments when you laugh so hard tears stream from your eyes and you think you are going to have a heart attack.  FUN. When you ride a wave and it spins you like a top and your nose is full of the ocean and your shorts are full of sand, and you just take a moment and laugh at what just made you feel alive.  That is it! I want more alive, fun time in the 2020’s How about it, AI, are you listening?

Do Enjoy…

Is Everyone Ready for Your Sales Call? Really?

It is the third Tuesday of the month and as usual, this outside salesperson will be visiting account ABC at 9am, DEF at noon for lunch, LMN at 2:30 and finish the day at XYZ at 4:00.  

This looks great. During a full day of outside calls, you have the chance to tell your brand stories to your targeted customers. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hit the road.  One question: are you prepared?   

Some interesting questions to ask before you schedule any and all outside calls: 

  • Do they know you are coming?
  • What do you want to accomplish at each call?
  • Do you have plenty of samples to share?
  • Have you checked the companies’ websites and social media posts to know what they are working on and promoting?
  • What happened on your last call there?  Did you review your notes?
  • What have been your company’s interactions with each customer since that last call?  Do you need to bring any parts or soothe any ruffled feathers?
  • DO THEY KNOW YOU ARE COMING?

This call routine was the first thing that was drilled into my head by my mentor, Al Dubin.  If I couldn’t answer all of these questions, Al told me to get back in that chair!  Unprepared salespeople were his number one pet peeve. R-E-S-P-E-C-T your customer and do your homework. You have to give to get.

I am still amazed at how often salespeople, sales managers and local representatives would stop by with no plan, no product samples and no idea of what was going on with our shared interests.  

They would show up when staff was busy selling, purchasing agents purchasing, designers pitching, plumbers fighting inspectors and builders trying to find subcontractors.  They would drop in at 11ish just to say hello and see if there were any issues or questions.  People, time is incredibly valuable for all involved and must be used effectively. Put simply, no one should call on anyone if they do not have an appointment and a beneficial agenda for all parties involved.  

Management has to be on top of this.  Every sales call made should align with your company’s focus and what your marketing team is promoting.  It is amazing what a company can accomplish when all the teams have the same game plan. 

Let’s stop unprepared calls; take that time and generate the quality and additional sales from your showroom visits that you and your clients expect and deserve.
A version of this article appeared in the December 6, 2019 issue of DPHA’s Connections