In the modern day retail environment, there is a lot going on. Customers are being marketed a ton of choices, they have done their research online, read blogs of other people’s opinions and are listening to their friends’ input — all before they walk into your store. This usually results in one of two things, either: 1. They know exactly what they want and you become less and less important or 2. They are overwhelmed and need someone’s help in the process. Well, congratulations … they came to you! Let’s look at some scenarios.
Customer A walks through our door and immediately starts asking very pointed questions about a specific model. Our natural response is to answer them. Obviously this guy has done the research and knows what he wants. We either close the deal at a discounted price because remember, he has done his research or we let him walk out the door and tell him to “come back when you are ready.” Customer B walks through the door and she has also done the research. However, she is overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. There are so many products, everyone has a different opinion and she doesn’t want to make the wrong decision. She comes in and starts asking our opinion and of course, we give it to her because that is what we are here to do.
In both of these scenarios we have done our jobs. The customer came in with questions, and we answered them based on our expertise. However we came in at the tail end of their decision to buy and not the front. The research that they have done could have been flawed from the beginning sending them down the wrong path into a product that might not best fit their needs. So how do we determine this? Questions, questions, questions. Slow down the process, take control of the situation and ask the appropriate questions that will lead you to the correct solution for your customer’s real need. He or she may not even know what they want, but relevant questioning will help them get there. We are all busy, understaffed and undertrained. But failure to take the time to get to the real want/need will result in us being the in store version of the keyboard cowboy who just throws out an opinion with no input basis.
Once we have the input we need from the customer it is time to present our recommendations. This is another slippery slope. We are salespeople, we like to talk and now it is our turn! Yeah! What we want to remember here is to present our solutions to our customers from their point of view. Your solution will ultimately satisfy a need, so explain to your customer the need you have identified and why this product will satisfy that need. Of course we need to present good/better/best options and then put it back on the customer for them to decide. After you have satisfied the need they sought help on, it is now time to upsell and to present other solutions for the needs that you have uncovered during your questioning. Personal anecdotes are fine and a great way to reinforce a product or decision, but we have to make sure to keep them relevant according to the customer’s point of view. If it is not relevant, you risk leaving the perception that you are self-serving rather than customer service focused.
Having a certain product or the best price on a product is no longer a reason for consumers to keep coming to your store. Being the guy who can identify a need and make relevant, appropriate recommendations which result in a more enjoyable riding experience is, and will keep your customers coming back to you.
Napoleon Tetreault is a sales representative with Tucker Rocky, an aftermarket PG&A distributor in the powersports industry. He works with powersports retailers on merchandising, profitability and management of the parts department as well as the education of dealership personnel. His experience includes being the GM of the largest indoor motocross facility in the US, owner/operator of a regional distribution company and current role with Tucker Rocky. He can be reached at: