Nail the Sale Chapter Three: Shopper Marketing Choice Cuts

In Chapter Two of Nail the Sale, I shared my suggestions for improving Best Buy’s in-store sales process along with ways that other retailers are forfeiting sales, sometimes after providing superior “customer service.”

Chapter One was picked up by Retail Wire last week and can think of no better way to wrap up the conversation than by sharing some choice cuts from the Retail Wire panelists and contributors.  I love, love, love the insights that these guys and gals brought to the table!

Nikki Baird related a ball-dropping experience at The Container Store, another retailer venerated for its customer service (but obviously not immune to disconnects).  To Nikki, staffing issues are at the root of the problem.  Marge Laney echoed the staffing concern, making a distinction between personal service, in which the customer is in control of the level of interaction, and one-on-one service, which can feel intrusive.

Pulling the rug out from under an already unsure customer by compromising their comfort can throw the “idiot switch" according to Bob Phibbs.  He suggests preparing customers for delayed gratification throughout the sales process rather than dropping that bomb at the end.

David Zahn’s take is that true customer motivation wasn’t established early-on; what my friend was hoping to accomplish by purchasing the home theater system in the first place.  From there, he saw the salesman’s delay in writing up the components as a forgone opportunity to reinforce the potential sale.  He too thought that putting the customer in charge of delivery and timing choices could have mitigated the delayed gratification problem.

According to Anne Howe, delayed gratification can be a motivator instead of a “deal killer” with a bit of aspirational positioning.  By stating up-front that purchases will be “so worth it,” retailers have a greater chance of nailing sales of higher-end products.

Doron Levy thought the sale was “doomed from the start” by Best Buy’s delivery ranges which would make the prospect of renting a van, picking everything up at Costco and using a local handyman or Costco’s own support line seem like a viable alternative by comparison.

To Bill Emerson, allowing buyer’s remorse to build up before the sale is the biggest killer of them all and he cited the low-margin television vs. high margin ancillary accessories and services as an “imbalance” that compromises the overall sales process.

The ever-anonymous "Scanner" thought that managing the details at the end of the process killed the fun and excitement built up until that point.  So true!

Max Kleiman saw failure, not in one or two disconnects, but in how multiple disconnects added up to kill the sale including over-complexity and inadequate staffing.  He, Ralph Jacobson and Herb Sorensen reiterated the need to simply ask for the sale, with Herb suggesting an affirmation step after that.  He noted that retailers can further boost buying confidence by making it clear which items are best-sellers.

Not every sales associate is a salesperson according to Cathy Hotka.  To her, if a shopper is considering a major purchase, then a mechanism should be in place that will put a real salesperson, not just an explainer, on the scene.

Ted Hurlbut’s point, that Best Buy is actually a service supported by a product, was spot-on.  Under that premise, the entire process would have been wrapped together seamlessly before the customer even came into the store.

Arthur Rosenberg was one of several panelists who relayed personal frustrations with Best Buy.  To Arthur, Best Buy corporate is to blame for seeing the customer as they want to see them and failing to “walk in the customer’s shoes.”

Not all of the suggestions were low-tech, however . . . Joel Warady thought that if the salesperson been armed with a handheld or smartphone, the order could have been rung up on the spot.  From there, a hand-off to an in-house “home logistics expert” would have ensured that of all of the details were managed appropriately.  I love this idea because hand offs don't have to be cumbersome and they have the added benefit of moving the process forward by signaling when one phase of the sales process has ended and another has commenced!

Thanks, BrainTrusters for sharing your best thinking!


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Lisa CarverComment