Once upon a time, the only sales process salespeople had to master, was for foot traffic or, customers who physically came into the business and possibly the occasional phone call prior to them visiting. However, the nature of customer traffic and what constitutes a sales opportunity has changed. More and more customers are using the internet to research and purchase products and services, including big ticket items such as a new car or building a new home.
The old school salesperson may struggle to see online customers as genuine sales opportunities, believing if the person was legitimately interested in purchasing, they would take the time to visit the store or showroom. However, for a variety of reasons this is not necessarily the case. Today, people are time poor and shun the inconvenience of going from store to store to make a buying decision. With the amount of information now at people’s fingertips, many are choosing to start and continue a sales conversation from the comfort of their own home by browsing websites and submitting online enquiries.
This means, a shift in mindset for some salespeople is necessary, to not only see an internet enquiry as an opportunity but being open to learning a new process on how to handle them effectively and with confidence.
When a customer enters a store or showroom, a salesperson is able to greet, answer questions and chat with a customer to build rapport. With an online enquiry however, they are required to engage customers and build a relationship and trust without even meeting the customer. This is usually done through a combination of email and phone calls, depending on the nature of the business and requires a whole new set of skills.
Many businesses have mastered this process by bringing their procedures, systems and salespeople up to speed on engaging, nurturing and converting online customers. Those that haven’t, are running the risk of burning potential customers, not to mention the negative impact on their service reputation if online enquiries are being ignored, not responded to promptly or handled ineffectively.
Traditional foot traffic in many industries, is on the decline and large sums of money is being invested by businesses into having a website that attracts customers and encourages them to make contact or interact. These leads should be seen as potential customers or as opportunities that need to be maximised just like any other.
The question “Would you like fries with that?” certainly has negative connotations, with the notion of someone trying to sell us something we don’t need or want just to make an extra dollar. However, it can be viewed from another perspective. Let’s say, as you’re ordering a burger, the person behind the counter asks you if you’d also like some fries. It then hits you, that’s exactly what you feel like to complete your meal. All of a sudden that one question offers you a satisfying solution to your hunger.
There are plenty of examples where another product can compliment, enhance or even be a necessity to your initial purchase and it wouldn’t be good customer service if the person assisting you didn’t suggest it.
Take purchasing the latest toy for a child, which is to be that exciting Christmas present unwrapped first thing on Christmas morning. The excitement of that child is very quickly going to turn to disappointment, when they realise you’ve forgotten to buy the batteries that are required to make it work. A sales assistant, reminding you of the batteries at the time of purchase, is not just helpful but necessary to ensure you don’t go home without them.
This is also the case with complimenting items. For example, you purchase brand new large screen television and you can’t wait to get it all set up and watch your favourite action movie. The experience would be much improved, if the salesperson also recommended a sound bar or home theatre to ensure you get the complete experience and not be disappointed with the very basic sound that comes out of many of the televisions these days due to their slim design.
There are countless examples where a sales assistant would be doing you a disservice by not suggesting an additional related product; a hair straightener without a heat protector, a laptop without software, a barbeque without a gas bottle, a camera without a memory card or an expensive pair of suede shoes without the water and stain protecting spray.
Customers aren’t always aware of what else they may need or what is available to enhance their purchase therefore, it’s up to the person assisting them to bring it to their attention. Certainly when irrelevant items are recommended for no valid reason, this becomes a blatant attempt at adding on but good customer service is about offering customers the complete package or entire solution to ensure complete satisfaction. It is then up to the customer to say yes or no.