Your customers aren’t always dressed for success Don’t miss an opportunity

Customers come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and ages, men and women who can be CEO’s or the person who serves breakfast at your favorite restaurant. It’s important to remember that they all have something in common when they walk through your door and that is: They are interested in what you have in your store so don’t let their appearance stop you from getting their business.

In my business career, I have known people who are dressed very well, drive a luxury vehicle and live in a beautiful home but a few of them could lose it all if they missed a paycheck. On the other hand, I have known people who prefer to wear jeans, drive a 10 year old pick-up because it runs just fine and live in a modest bungalow that they are comfortable in and a few of them are millionaires.

The adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, is quite fitting and most accurate as a proper business approach for engaging with consumers who walk through your doors. The practice of qualifying customers is as old as retail business itself. The issue is how we qualify our customers.

When I was an Operations Manager for a large RV, Marine and Powersports dealership, I spent most of my time dealing with various management and administration issues but felt it was important to get a feel as to how we were doing on the sales floor, especially during our busiest selling season.

In order to get that feel, I would spend my Saturdays observing our large showroom that was manned by at least eight salespeople. I discovered that many of our salespeople would qualify customers simply by looking at them. A quick up and down look and if they seemed “legitimate”, they would approach and talk to the customer. Otherwise, they would go back to what they were doing which at times included reading a newspaper.

One particular Saturday, I noticed a man walk into the showroom and I noticed that he was looking for someone to talk to.  I had seen a few salespeople notice the man and gave him the up and down look and then went on to other things. I’ll admit that this fellow wasn’t the best dressed, wearing a worn plaid shirt, well-worn jeans and dirty cowboy boots.

It was obvious the salespeople were not going to make an effort to help this man so I approached him and asked if I could help him find what he was looking for. He explained that he was looking for a larger travel trailer with bunks. I showed him a couple of models and explained some features and benefits. This customer liked what he saw, pulled a checkbook from his back pocket and told me to fill it in. Done... and at list price.

Some of the salespeople noticed that I was writing up the deal and followed me into the sales manager’s office. One complained that I was stealing deals from the sales staff and another stated that this customer had been in a few weeks earlier and he had spoken to the dealer so he suggested that the deal be split. I explained what I saw earlier and stated that it would be a house deal.

It is crucial that everyone in your dealership understands that every single person that walks through your front doors, deserves to be qualified by being welcomed and asked some open probing questions that allows your staff to help them have the most positive experience they can have while at your dealership.

Your salespeople will not miss an opportunity, like the salespeople I mentioned earlier that I worked with, to do business and make money by welcoming consumers to the store and asking a few open ended, probing questions that can not only lead to a sale but a strong positive customer experience.

A retail business can spend large amounts of money on marketing and branding but nothing makes or breaks that marketing and branding like word of mouth experiences by your customers. Good or bad.

Watch how your staff engages and interacts with consumers and make sure your business doesn’t miss any opportunities to gain more customers.