There are a great many reasons why your customers come in looking for a new appliance. The old one is broken beyond cost efficient repair. They’re refinishing their kitchen and opting for new appliances. They finally got tired of having the microwave take up counter space so they’re replacing it with an over-the-stove model. And here’s one of the bigger ones in today’s markets: They’re looking for something more energy efficient.
Something often taught in the car-sales market is, “See what you sell; sell what you see.” In that line of sales, the emphasis is selling what’s on the lot rather than custom ordering anything. The typical car dealership will invest a week or more in training a new salesman. The question begs of us in the home improvement market: Do we spend any time training our sales associates / customer service assistants in actual sales strategy?
We have all had the experience of walking into a hardware or home improvement retailer and asking for assistance in finding something. There’s a huge difference between the 1) employee who doesn’t know where that is and has to ask someone else for help; 2) the employee who knows exactly where that is and can point you in that direction; 3) the employee who not only knows where it is but walks you over to it and helps you make a selection; and finally, 4) the employee who knows where it is, walks you over there and can school you in the benefits, pros, cons, etc. of the various options you have to purchase.
Now here’s the kicker: The BEST customer service representative can not only explain the various benefits, pros and cons, but can do so in a way that upsells the consumer. That’s right: the employee who can convince your customer than spending the extra XX number of dollars is actually a good idea because of… pick a reason: long term savings, performance measurement, warranty… something.
Sure, sometimes that just comes with time. Those employees tend to become management personnel in the long run. But while they’re on your sales floor, even if their primary purpose isn’t selling, could they be doing you more good? Could they be upselling your customers? Could they be educating your customers in a way that helps the customers buy better products that might cost a bit more? Can they do something that increases your profit margin or sales efficiency?
The answer is that they absolutely can but it’s going to cost you a bit more up front. A bit more what? Time and labor cost. If each employee you hire, whether they’re assigned a particular product section or not, was given a week’s worth of training in the various products in that section, how those products compared to each other, and what current market trends are for improvements to the next generation of product… then that employee can become an efficient sales associate even if their primary purpose isn’t sales.
How do you do that? You start out by identifying those veteran employees you have who have this talent and can coach or mentor the new employees. If you don’t already have identified training personnel – even if it’s not their full time focus – then you need to do so. Identify the employees you have who can not only tell you where the products are and which ones are good, but WHY the good ones are good… and more importantly, why they’re better than other products. Develop a system for asking one question and getting a good, reasonable, and logic based answer from each employee: Why would I want to buy that instead of this? This can be especially effective and profitable in the appliance department.
Hands down one of the biggest reasons the market currently prefers some appliance products is for future energy savings. Let’s be honest: a refrigerator that is 20 years old isn’t going to be as energy efficient, nor have the features of, a new refrigerator. The long term energy savings can be an excellent selling point and one that your employees are prepared to address. At a bare minimum make sure your employees know how to read and explain the energy tags on any given appliance. If your employee can understand, discuss the differences between and strengths of one over another energy tag, then that employee can effectively upsell your customers in any appliance purchase.
Give your customers a reason to buy a better product. Have your employees ready to explain why that’s a benefit to them.
Appliance product image courtesy of LG.