Monthly Training Article

Your Most Effective Sales Strategy

Case Studies Details Content

Jessica Chin, partner and consultant of Quest Learning, is a pragmatic and hands-on trainer who has tackled many roles throughout her professional career. Chin is a member of UK’s IPMA (International Professional Managers Association) and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. She taps into the power of stories/games/life experiences to ignite the passion and bring out the potential in other people so as to allow them to take charge of their lives.

Your Most Effective Sales Strategy

Gauging the performance of a sales personnel is not tough at all; simply observe the way he introduces himself and the company and you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

In fact, that few opening words can tell you a great deal of a company’s service attitude and philosophy.

On New Year’s Day 2016, I was invited to an out-of-town wedding reception and went to a hair salon near the hotel to do up my hair. Before starting on the hair wash, the junior hairdresser asked me if I prefer to use the premium or normal shampoo. Without thinking too deeply about the question, I told her that the normal ones will do.

Shortly into the wash, she deliberately pulled on my hair and said, “Miss, are you aware that you have a severe hair loss problem?”

“Yes, the problem worsened ever since I gave birth, but I have been taking care of it since and the condition has improved tremendously over the past two years,” I replied and got back to my reading.

The brief two-line exchange already brought up the feeling that the junior hairdresser is not being professional and committed in hair washing, but was more interested in hawking the store’s products than in providing services.

The message that was conveyed is that the salon is in the business of targeting the customers in order to improve sales of products through introducing shampoo upgrades and other means to sell the products.

I have always been clear on my needs and budget I have for specific goods and services. In other words, I am willing to pay for goods and services if I find them worthwhile. However, the overtly direct approach by the hairdresser took away the motivation to spend. I am confident that the result would have been very different if a different approach is taken to promote the products.


Remove the Defensive Wall

The success of a retail store is intricately linked to the 5P of sales – Product, Price, Promotion, Positioning and People. The importance of front line staff cannot be overstated as they need to be able to build a rapport with the clients in order to establish trust before one can even begin talking about closing sales.

Malaysians love shopping and there are retail shops in every neighbourhood big or small. As such, consumers are generally very experienced in the whole retail dance and are resistant to hard-selling. Under such challenging conditions, capturing the heart of the customer the moment they walk through your doors in the biggest challenge facing retailers, more so under the current lacklustre market. If you are unable to leave a positive impression on your customer when they are in store, you can be sure that you will not be their first choice once it comes to making the buying decision.

From my experience, retail success often hinge on how effective the salesperson is in breaching the defensive line of the customer and tapping into the motivation to buy.

Take the hair salon example I posted above, the hairdresser tried pitching the product before even establishing a good rapport with me. In doing so, she inevitably caused the customer to become more guarded and this made any further sales advances more difficult.

The famous Zig Ziglar once said, “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

In general, customers who step into a store are already prepared to spend for goods and services, so the stage has already been set. What is left is for the salesperson to handle the situation professionally and apply the right technique so that the customer will appreciate the professional opinion and services rendered.

2 Techniques to Sales Success

Asking the same question in different ways to achieve better results:

Technique One – Putting the customer first and bringing out the company’s philosophy through the conversation

“Miss, we have been taught to pay attention to our customers’ hair condition. From your hair condition, I recommend that you try our deep nourishing shampoo. This is a product from France and will only cost RM 5 extra. Is that okay with you?”

Customers tend to be more willing to try the product if the question is worded in such manner that offers a value proposition. In addition, the couple of sentences actually bring out the following important points:

  1. The salon is concerned about the customer’s hair health (company philosophy of putting customer first)
  2. I recommend….. (showing professional knowledge)
  3. Is that okay with you?… (giving the power of choice back to the customer)
  4. Product from France…. (increase the product value and highlight that it is a good value)

Technique Two – Going with the flow to guide the customer to make a choice

The hairdresser can continue using the same method with some modification.

“Miss, do you prefer to use the normal shampoo or would you prefer to try our premium shampoo? (*do not use just words, present the two different kinds of shampoos to the customer so they can have a feel of the actual product) This premium shampoo is imported from France and is highly recommended by renowned hairstylists. It nourishes the hair from deep within the roots, giving you soft hair that will be very easy to comb. It also has a very pleasant scent, would you like to smell it?”

In sales of goods or services, it is important that you remove sales resistant and put your customer in a position to accept your proposal.


3 Ways to Warm Up the Customer

Method 1: Reaching Out with Words – Lead the customer into a conversation

The moment the customer pushes open the door, immediately greet the customer and ask about the services required. Then usher the customer to a comfortable seat. If possible, get to know the customer name, and start addressing the customer by name throughout the conversation. During the hair wash, if the customer is open for a chit-chat, you can apply the F.O.R.M.+IN (I will share in greater details how to bridge the distance and build rapport in the future) and open up the conversation. Subtly bring up some aspects of the product or service philosophy, but remember that this is not the time for making sales unless the customer brings up the topic on his or her own.


Method 2: Touch the Heart – Open the heart of your customer

In the Asian countries that I have visited, Taiwan is home to the best hair salon services that I have personally experienced. The hairstylists not only share their extensive professional knowledge, but are very particular about details such as the beverage offered. Customers often have a selection of quality drinks to choose from and the service staff will even replace drinks that have cooled with a fresh warm cup. Such quality services and attention to details make it such a joy to spend for services whenever I am in Taipei. Do you have the same attention to detail in your shop that makes spending money a joy for the customer?


Method 3: Professionalism in Contact – let your effort show through your every touch

Customers visiting a hair salon are ultimately looking for a relaxing and quality experience. When serving the customer, particularly when your hands are in contact with the customer’s scalp, are you putting the customer at the centre of your attention? Always remember that the customer can feel your effort through your hands and hence it is crucial to not be distracted from providing top quality services.

Make sure you are attuned to the customer’s preferred level of strength, water temperature and areas that need more attention. Treat the customer’s hair as how you would treat your own. When the customer is back on the seat after the rinse is one of the best times to close a sale or give a professional suggestion as the customer is satisfied with the effort and professionalism you have shown thus far. Promoting the hair treatment at this time will increase the chance of success.

I believe every front-line salesperson has his or her set of marketing methods, but being able to achieve the desired results is the most important and I wish everyone a happy time closing sales!