I want you to use your inventory as a weapon! Let me be clear on this: I am not encouraging anyone to throw a set of Vance and Hines at a difficult customer, lazy employee or a vendor that you may have an issue with. I am talking about using your inventory as a weapon in the fight for more sales! In the past, we have talked about our personal selling skills (our mindset, treating our customers as G.U.E.S.T.s, etc.), so today we will focus on another weapon in our arsenal in the fight for more sales — our inventory.
Let’s assume we have the basics covered. We have the right inventory at the right time in the right place. We are seasonally rotating our inventory with what is appropriate for the current/upcoming season, and we have cool impulse items in the proper place. Now it’s time to use that inventory to your advantage to help you close some sales by engaging your customer's senses. Which senses? All of them — sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. Allow me to break it down by sense.
Sight: Can you customers see your inventory? Do you have it properly displayed? Do you have three-dimensional displays and seasonal displays showing your inventory in action? Showing your customers the inventory in action and allowing them to visualize how they will use it is key to engaging their sense of sight. Pictures and posters are a great way to enhance this and engage your customer's sense of sight.
Smell: How does your store smell when you first walk in? Do you empty the garbage daily and keep food waste in the back? Even a fresh sandwich emits an odor that is distracting to our customers. Keep that stuff in back! Fresh rubber, leather, a hint of race fuel and carnauba wax are all smells that get our customers excited and enhance their experience through their sense of smell.
Sound: Do your products enhance the sound of something or prevent it? Are you selling 2-into-1 exhaust for a new Street Glide? Download the sound byte from the manufacturer's website. Better yet, have them installed on a floor model, so you can walk the customer over and get a real world sound test. How about if the product prevents sound as in a high end helmet? Let them try it on or even demo if you have a demo program at your store. Are you showing Bluetooth helmet speakers? There is only one way to feature and benefit sell those — put them on your customer’s head and play their favorite tune!
Touch: Remember getting lectured as a child not to touch anything while you were in the store with your parents? Well, now that we are on the selling side, we want our customers to touch. I’ll pass on the kid with Doritos-laced fingertips grabbing at my white Answer motocross jersey on the wall, but his mom is a different story. Women shop through touch, especially apparel, and with the myriad of fabrics being used in today's powersports apparel, it's especially important to expose customers to our products through touch. Brushed cotton, AR-600, AR-1000, superstretch, D30, turtle foam can all be explained but really need to be felt ... and we haven’t even got into leather yet! This is a HUGE advantage that brick-and-mortar dealers have over online retailers and B&M dealers need to use that to their advantage. Couple the sensation of touch with the psychology of retail, which theorizes that someone who holds something in their hands may feel a sense of ownership and therefore more likely to buy the item. Let your customers hold or wear the product while you explain it to them.
Taste: Most of us don’t sell food, but we can still engage this sense. If your customer rides in on a hot day in motorcycle gear, offer him a cold water or beverage from the vending machine. Satisfy that need, so that he can focus on why he came to your dealership instead of wondering where he will find a drink. Do you have snacks for your service customers while they wait for their service? How about coffee during the morning hours? This very little and small offering goes a long way with your customers in satisfying a need and creating a welcoming environment for your customer base. This business concept is called leverage, and you just used it by offering water and Pop-Tarts!
These are all just a few examples of how we can engage our customers through their senses and maximize the use of our inventory in the fight to create more sales in our stores. If you have any examples that you like to use in your customer interactions, please share, so we all can benefit.
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: