First impressions make it — or break it. You won’t close a sale unless you start the conversation the right way. Everyone remembers the line in the movie Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise tells his love, “You had me at hello.” Female viewers sighed a collective “aaaahh” and smiled knowingly.
Recently, I was talking with a friend about how millions of dollars are spent at corporate offices on marketing to women initiatives, as I detailed in the article, $1 million cost of non-strategy. I reiterated that without appropriate retail training, those bucks are wasted. The first words out of a salesperson’s mouth are crucial, and non-verbal’s can be even more important.
Trust through stories
My first PSB article two years ago, What she really hears, recalls a conversation I had with a salesperson, and how his words turned me off immediately. In the first few minutes, he told me how sexy women riders were. It was creepy. Definitely not words that would build trust.
As in any initial sales conversation, find common ground, especially if she’s never ridden before. What interests her about getting into riding? Did she used to ride with her dad or someone else? Where did they go, and why did she enjoy it?
Get her thinking — and talking about — the emotional benefits, then comment when appropriate about how you can relate. Share stories of riding with family members or friends, including other women riders. Don’t start showing her models, discussing engine sizes and specs, unless she’s already a veteran rider and wants that information right away.
Remember to practice the “ears to mouth ratio” of listening twice as much as you speak. And as often as you’ve heard this (and I’ve taught it), make eye contact and use her name. Don’t continually look down (ick!) or over her shoulder. Show you’re engaged by nodding and smiling, then asking clarifying questions. Check out more tips including posture and eyebrow-raising in this article, Seven seconds to make a first impression.
I love questions!
Speaking of questions … I had a salesperson tell me once that women ask twice as many questions as men. Yes, it’s a generalization, but one I’ve found to ring true in my two decades of experience on the retail floor selling, then in corporate offices marketing and training others.
If she’s asking questions, then her trust and interest are STILL there with you. Don’t lose that by letting your eyes glaze over or looking at your watch (take it off if the temptation is too strong). Offer her a water or coffee, so she knows that you want to keep the discussion going.
A few years ago, I walked into an REI ready to spend some serious dough on camping gear. I asked the first person I met, “I need your most patient and knowledgeable salesperson in the camping section, because I’ll be asking a ton of questions.” I spent nearly three hours with an older gentleman who was fantastic at helping me keep all of the options straight. He wrote a few things down, and guided me into narrowing the options to the best ones for me. I walked out with arms full and feeling like I’d made the best choice.
Yes, I’d done a bunch of internet surfing, but I wanted someone with real experience and real knowledge to talk me through the product benefits and how they would relate to my needs. I’ve been an REI customer for years, and have told that story countless times.
Do your customers tell these types of stories about your salespeople? Are all of them making the best first impression and building trust before selling? Do some role playing, job shadowing or hire a secret shopper service to find out.
A rider for 26 years, Leslie spent 15 years with Harley-Davidson (3 retail, 12 corporate) and created their marketing to women role in 2007. She spearheaded Women Riders Month and a Garage Party Campaign which drove 25,000 women to dealers. After 2 years at Trek Bicycles, Leslie now helps companies sell more to new audiences.
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