Two Powerful Marketing and Sales Lessons from The City Centre Mall

I don’t usually write much about marketing and business on this blog.  I write business articles for a publication here in Bahrain, and elsewhere.  But a consulting client urged me to write more on the blog as they thought others might benefit.  And it would allow me to write more about a topic I’m passionate about.

So I thought, why not?  If you’re a business owner, or have a sales or marketing function in your job, then you’ll benefit greatly.  You might also consider subscribing to my FREE marketing e-course at RadicalMarketing.com.

Okay, here goes… The other day my wife and I went to the City Centre mall here in Bahrain.  I wanted to buy a standing punching bag for use in my home [I didn’t want to be able to only do bag work when I was in Zen-Do.  And I was in a rush, so I didn’t order from our US suppliers, which would have taken too long for me].

Anyway, I bought a bag for around BD 170 (USD 450) from the sports shop on the second floor.  They had a special offer; you get BD 5 for every BD 25 spent.  So we got BD 30 worth of vouchers – nice!

As it happens we went to the mall again about a week later, as my wife wanted to buy some rackets.  So we used the vouchers, and ended up spending an additional BD 10 (about USD 27) than the value of the vouchers.  The point is the vouchers worked! So the lesson is use gift vouchers! Had they not offered the vouchers, they would have only made BD 170, but because of them, the store made an additional BD 10 out of us.  But there’s much more to this.  Here are the benefits of using gift vouchers:

– A good customer service tool.  They surprise and delight customers.

– As mentioned, they increase sales and profits.  They create “found money.”  Money that would otherwise not have been collected.

– They create loyalty.  People like being rewarded and will reward the store that rewards them.

– (This is a big one) they create a habit.  We humans are creatures of habit and don’t like change too much.  Get your customers to make a habit out of visiting you, and they are not likely to switch unless annoyed.  This sports store has become the first place I think of when I need sports equipment.

Caveat! Never, ever take your customers loyalty for granted, which 99% of businesses do.  I remember going to the barbershop after not having used them for several weeks.  The guy there said “Oh sir! long time no see.  Were you traveling?”  No you you fool, I thought, I just don’t have a reason to be loyal to you.  Since I shave my head, I’m not too particular about where I go.  And since this barber doesn’t treat me particularly special (he doesn’t even smile when I walk in) why should I be loyal to him?  Be loyal to your customer before you expect loyalty from him, get it?

Another thing about gift vouchers, always have a deadline for their use.  Don’t let them drag for weeks and weeks.  I would say not longer than two to three weeks.

Going back to the topic of customer loyalty.  A store card is an extremely effective method for keeping customers loyal.  It increases the likelihood that your customers will choose you again rather than someone else.

And by the way, this store could be doing MUCH, much more.  For one thing, their staff are not very friendly (with the exception of a young man from the Philippines), and they don’t seem to be  that well trained.  Had they been friendlier and better informed, we probably would have spent much more money there.

Lesson Number Two

Okay, on to another lesson.  After we were done we walked into a shoe store [I don’t particularly enjoy shopping, but somehow my wife manages to turn a ‘hanging out’ trip to the mall into a genuine shopping outing, but that’s another topic]  When we walked in a young Bahraini man approached me and asked if I was looking for casual or formal shoes.  I was impressed (I’ll explain why in a minute).  I told him I was just looking around (I was there for my wife).  He then asked me if I knew what these shoes were about and I said no.

He then proceeded to explain that this brand was a unique Italian brand that allowed your foot to breathe.  Most shoes create sweat and moisture around your feet, but not these, he explained.  These shoes had special soles that allowed the moisture to escape without letting any in.  Thus giving you a much more comfortable shoe-wearing experience.

I liked this young man’s style!  I asked him a question I always ask good sales people.  I asked him if he received any special training from his company, or if this was his initiative.  The question took him by surprise, which it usually does.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: “What’s your name young man?”

Him: “My name is ________, sir”

Me: “well, ________.  I like the way you approached me.  Is this part of the training you received from the company, or your own initiative?”  The poor lad was taken by surprised, he obviously was never asked that question before.  He thought I was being sarcastic.

Him: “Umm, is something wrong?  Is there anything you’re unhappy about?”

Me: “No, not at all.  I just liked the way you approached me.  Did they train you on this?”

Him: “No sir, this is my style.”

Me: “I like your style…”

Him: “Do you know how our shoes work, have you heard about them before…?”  And so on.

So what did he do right?  Well, first and foremost he had the right attitude.  Good salesmanship – and success in general for that matter is all about your attitude; the  cup half full vs. half empty type stuff – is all about the attitude.  I presume he made a commission on every pair of shoes he sold, and he didn’t wait for the commission to fall in his lap, he actively went for it.  I bet he earned more commission that the rest of the employees combined.

The second thing he did right was that he asked me a question that did not give me much choice to refuse him.  He did not ask “can I help you?”  Instead he asked if I was looking for casual or formal shoes.  He did not ask me a yes or no question.  Whichever way I answered the question he could have then proceeded to demonstrate the appropriate shoe.  Poor guy did not count on meeting someone who is a bit of sales and marketing guru.

The third thing he did right was that he explained what made their shoes unique.  This shoe company has a nice story and a very unique USP (unique selling proposition) – and he knew it.

After I resisted all his well-intentioned and well-aimed sales tactics he asked me if I wanted to leave my name and number so that he could contact me when they had new stock.  This is the fourth thing he did right.  Again I politely said no.

A mistake too many sales people make when selling is giving up too soon. A customer may not be ready to buy from you now, but with consistent follow up, he may be ready to buy from you eventually.

So there you have it.  Some good marketing and sales tips that you can implement right away.  I’ll write another post about staff training in the near future, which sort of follows from this topic.

If you are a business owner, you might consider hiring me to help you grow your business exponentially.  I have to warn you however, I don’t believe in selling myself cheaply, and I’m extremely busy.  Consulting days have to be booked weeks ahead.  You can find out more at RadicalMarketing.com.

Thanks for reading this and talk to you soon.

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