Entrepreneur Best Practice; #5 Tailor Questions for your buyers that Illustrate your Expertise and Prepare you to Serve their Needs

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When you are being served by a market leader you know it. When someone experienced in understanding the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing. When buyers experience this kind of service they buy, and they become raving fans for referrals.

 

Market leaders understand the value of knowing their buyers needs, criteria, and how the very questions they ask illustrate your knowledge and expertise.

 

As I have shared in previous posts, I decided in March I needed to lose weight. Since March of 09 I have now lost 70 lbs. The good news is I have a tremendous amount of energy, I feel healthier and I no longer need my blood pressure medicine or my sleep apnea machine. The only bad news is I need a new wardrobe.

I was recently asked to be the keynote speaker for the Boomerz event and I wanted to buy a suit. All the suits I have are 52 jackets and I swim in them now. I could deliver my content casual, but I would prefer to be more formal. (There I go showing my old school nature again) My wife recommended I look at the local Stein Mart as they have designer suits at significantly discounted prices.

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I went to a local Stein Mart and started trying on jackets to determine my size today. I was quickly approached by Howard, the floor salesman and asked if he could be of assistance. He asked …” what size are you?” and I explained that I do not know. So he quickly measured me and said you are really a 43 long, but let’s try a 44 long. As I was trying on various suits, Richard (who also worked in the men’s clothing) approached and asked me a number of questions;

 

What size do you typically wear? I explained I do not know as I just lost weight…

What size were you before? A 52 jacket and a 42 pant…

So you have always bought athletic cut suits? …how did he know that?

Did you typically buy Heart Shafter Marx? (How did he know?)

 

Did you play football? Yes…again how did he …?

What occasions will you be wearing this suit? I explained I do public speaking and training workshops and consulting…

So you will be on your feet most of the time? Yes…

Oh, this is the wrong suit for you…and he disappeared, and I liked that one…

Within a few minutes he came back with two suits I had not seen prior … (Forgive me but I thought to myself …oh great he probably just found two of the most expensive suits off the rack, and like a car salesman wanting me to take a test drive he put the new jacket on so I would fall in love with it and find the money)

The suit looked great, but felt snug…

Richard said; the suit lays exactly as it should on you; this suit is cut better for men built like you… (He must have detected my concern about the snug fit)

I can tell you are not used to wearing clothes that fit… are you? Kind of a bold question from someone who wants my money…

 

He went on to say …You told us early on you have lost a lot of weight…it’s not unusual when we are overweight to not have clothing that fits properly…this is how a suit is supposed to fit. Wow, they were listening to me…

He asked me to look into the corner of the mirrors so I could see the back of the suit, and he said; see how nice this lays on you? And he taught me how a suit is supposed to fit.

He asked; when you speak do you button your coat? (I never thought about it)

He went on to tell me; Gentlemen never button the top button and he recommended when I first greet my audience I have the middle button buttoned and then unbutton it as I begin to speak…( is this guy for real? Or is it that I have never met someone before who knew so much about men’s clothing as Howard and Richard?)

I decided to buy the suit they recommended and have the suit tailored…

Again, a new series of questions from Howard and Richard (I’ll spare you but you get the idea)

Howard asked …so when do you need the suit? I explained I have time its a few weeks away…

He said; no… When you pick up your suit we want you to come back and we will check everything with the actual shoes you plan to be wearing…again, amazing….I felt like I was not only in experienced good hands, but I felt like I was the only customer in the store…

As I went in the dressing room I forced myself to peek at the price and to my surprise it was the same price as the suits I originally was looking at! …He paid attention to my price target…

When I came out of the dressing room Howard handed me a claim ticket and went on to explain the date it would be ready, where it would be located that day. Again both Howard and Richard reminded me to try the suit on, bring the right shoes and if for whatever reason it did not look right they would have time to fix it as …they wanted me to feel good when I walked to the front of the room. …again wow!

I thanked them and they asked what I teach. I explained how I teach leaders how to treat customers the way they both just treated me. It turns out they both had over 25 years of experience and Richard served clients for over 30 years on a commission only basis prior to joining Stein Mart.

Since that time I have told over a dozen of my friends about what a welcome interruption it was to receive such amazing service. I told everyone about the team of Howard and Richard and if you want to have an expert serve and fit you, you need to visit them at the store on Shea near the 101 freeway in Scottsdale.

When you are being served by a market leader, someone experienced in serving the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing.

 

You can identify Market leaders by the questions they ask, and their bottom line.

 

Market leaders make you feel like your goal becomes their goal as well.

 

Market leaders not only want you happy, but they want to make you a raving fan.

 

How about your organization….

 

Are your salespeople trained as well as Howard and Richard?

 

Are you hiring “service people” or “salespeople”?

 

Is your team creating raving fans?

 

Do your clients feel like your team members are “internal champions” for their needs …or just trying to hit a goal and make their commission?

 

(In hind sight I now wish I had the guts to have the pants cut without a cuff as Richard adamantly recommended, but I chose cuffs …obviously showing my lack of knowledge in the current styles.)

 

Remember… buyer’s like to buy…they hate being sold.

 

Our job as salespeople today is to help buyers buy.

 

Guide buyers through their buying process and be their internal champion and not just “protect the fort” of company policies, rules and reinforce “we can’t do that’s

 

Thank you Howard and Richard!

 

I can only hope I make my clients feel as you both made me feel.

 

What are we supposed to do when the Heat is on and our market dries up?…SOW!

 

The bible is very clear that we are to SOW in the dry spells, in the time our business hits a dry spell, yet so many market losers do the oppofamily pics 069site.

It was 114 degrees yesterday, here in the Arizona, and I know people say it’s a “dry heat” but that does not seem to console me…it’s hot. Simple errands seem to drain you, suck the life out of you even. For example in this time of the year all the trees are dropping their pods full of seeds. Although the animals welcome the food, they quickly make quite a mess. So there I was at 6:00 am (102 degrees) picking up pods in my yard before it got hot. How ironic that the trees are dropping seeds when we are in the hottest part of the summer, where’s natures wisdom in that? Actually it is smart because when the pods fall they are baked in the desert sun and they crack open allowing their seeds to fall into the earth. When the rains return, the seed is now in an environment to take root and grow.

I was thinking about the wisdom in this as it relates to what we as business people must do when our market becomes dry and the heat is on to hit our numbers. The Bible is very clear we are to “SOW” in these times. What does it mean to “SOW”? At Dictionary.com the definition is;

1. to scatter (seed) over land, earth, etc., for growth; plant.
2. to plant seed for: to sow a crop.
3. to scatter seed over (land, earth, etc.) for the purpose of growth.
4. to implant, introduce, or promulgate; seek to propagate or extend; disseminate: to sow distrust or dissension.
5. to strew or sprinkle with anything.

 

The Bible has a number of lessons about sowing. It is very clear we are to;

 

“Sow in the midst of suffering”

“There may be no fruit now, but the grains of love and faithfulness you have scattered will produce a rich harvest”

“Let your eyes be on the field which you reap”

“Each will receive what he has earned.”

 

If you feel your market has dried up, it’s time to start sowing. Ironic however that I see a number of companies doing just the opposite; cutting back on marketing and sales travel. Market leaders are taking this time to sow.

As I explore this deeper it is often the result of not having and understanding of what marketing and sales activities actually produce fruit and what are just “ Activities”. To ensure you are sowing to produce the greatest harvest the first thing you must do is understand how your buyers buy. What makes their soil fertile, and what causes the seeds you plant to be washed away? What marketing initiatives are you doing today that are falling among the rocks and will never take root? What marketing and sales activities are you doing today that are falling among the thorns only to have sales spend time on them as “good leads” only to have the life choked out of them before they produce fruit?

 

The key is to know your market and more specifically your buyers.

 

How about your company…

 

How well do you know how your customers shop for your product?

What do your buyers use as buying criteria?

Where do your buyers go when they have a problem they need solved?

Who are the key influencers that impact your buyer’s ability to purchase today?

Answer the above and compare the answers to what your team is currently doing and you will be well on your way to a bountiful future harvest.

What a Dentist, a Car Wash, and an Auto Repair shop can teach us about marketing in a difficult Economy

 

What’s a business to do when their phone does not ring as often or stops all together? Sure the newspaper says you need to run an ad, and the local direct marketing firm says you need to do a mass mailing. You have a friend who “knows a guy” that makes these pens with your logo….The problem is each of these tactics to reach buyers who have problems you solve cost money and have uncertain results.You are going to have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. Don’t these sales reps know your business is hurting? If you knew, for sure, what they were trying to sell you worked, and would help your target buyers find you, you would do it.

First,please keep in mind you may know more than you may be aware. Have you run ads in the local paper before? How did that work for you? Market leaders measure every marketing expenditure and track the results it generates. If an ad in the paper or yellow pages has driven revenue, then by all means keep doing it, heck you may want to do more!

The secret is to intimately know your market buyers, the process they use to buy and where they hang out. When you engage with new leads, qualified leads as well as service past customers …ask. Ask why they choose you. Ask who influenced their decision; learn as much as you can about them and how they found you.family pics 074

Here’s a couple of good examples. So I wander into my gym at 5:00 am with serious bed hair and after checking in I see a standee advertising a Dentist. It’s not a flier, or an inexpensive poster, but a very well designed free standing floor display. It turns out this is my families’ dentist Dr. Zana Alnaqie of Smiles by Design…how cool! My family is very happy with their service and the creative I am viewing does a good job of illustrating their high quality as well as friendliness. As I walked to the lock room I thought …how smart! People who work out at Gyms on a regular basis obviously care about their health and how they look. One of the profitable services for dentists is the  dental cosmetics and or whitening services. One of the reasons I do not smile often I am very self conscious about how my teeth look. So as I walk into my gym, I see a friendly reminder about my professional dentist who is friendly and the picture has a beautiful smile. I am reminded of my last cleaning and how she explained they can fix teeth like mine. In addition to having good creative that matches the buyer demographic for those that frequent this gym, her office is within a mile of this gym.

Another example occurred when I took my car to the carwash this weekend. I do not remember washing my car so often when I lived in Ohio, but out here in Arizona people seem to wash their cars often. In addition when I did wash my car in Ohio I would go through a carwash at a gas station or I would pull in to a self service bay, drop about six quarters and power hose off the salt and dirt before my time ran out. Here in Arizona you can spend from $11.99 to $18.00 to $24.00 per wash. Add a detail, and you will be spending well over $100.

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While at McDonald’s recently I noticed a standee with various local retailer coupons. I saw a coupon for $4.00 off at my favorite car wash called Francis and Son’s. So Saturday I used my coupon, and received a good wash, hand dry, clean windows and interior dusting for $7.99. After they motioned that my car was ready I got back in my car. (and my seat was in the position I left it in). Is it just me, or do clean cars run better? As I drove home I  notice a neon green promotional flier on my console…interesting. When I returned home I read the flier assuming it was a bounce back coupon, but instead it was a promotion announcement from another local business that does auto repair and body work. Smart! So I am a consumer who cares about my car. As I get back in my car after a great experience from someone I trust, I find a flier for someone to make those nasty car door dings go away, and this same guy can help me with the tune up I need. The flier was nothing expensive, but connected with me when I was thinking about my car,while in my car,  again…very smart.

 

 

So what did we learn other than Mark is cheap, has bad teeth and needs a new car soon?

 

Marketing through complimentary businesses , influencers, and your referral network makes sense and provides a much greater return than traditional ; “ throw it out there and see if it sticks” marketing.

 

So what are some considerations if you want to try this strategy?

· Relevance – the more relevance the better, window cleaners leaving behind maid service fliers, and maid services leaving behind the window cleaner

· Proximity – if you lack or have limited relevance have proximity

· Quality – when you refer another business, whether you mean to or not you are endorsing them. Do not work with partners who do not have a high quality standard

· Trust – make sure if you work with another business , make sure they do not use the marketing to bait and switch those who respond

· Inspect what you expect – before you agree to work with someone, visit their business and shop it. How well did they treat you? Does their customer service mirror your standards?

· Creative must support your brand – my dentist hired someone to make a high quality free standing display. An auto repair shop can get away with a neon green two sided flier, but my dentist could not

· Know your buyers– Get to know your buyers and you will find complimentary products and or service that you could be working with today

 

As I drove home tonight I needed to pick up some groceries, so as I entered Safeway (because I no longer shop at Albertsons since they cut my trust with a customer loyalty program) I see my dentist’s creative on each shopping cart. Awesome!

 

How about your business?

 

Who has complimentary relevant products you could work with?

 

What businesses have proximity to your business that could be a high quality referral partner?

 

Who are key influencers that shape your buyer’s attitudes and perceptions of your buyer and how can you equip them to talk about you?

 

I can hear the big company executives in my head saying …” yah, well this is great for little small businesses but this does not add any value to me”. You could say that…but you would be wrong! Challenge me, post a comment about your type of business and I am sure we can find referral partners.