GEAR “A” Appeal Part 3

To an outsider, specialty retail may seem like a fun and easy job—after all, we get to spend our days sharing our passions with fellow outdoor enthusiasts with open wallets, right? Well, kind of. At the Mann Group, we know that selling well can sometimes seem more like an uphill slog than a ride through the park, and that’s why we created GEAR. GEAR is our guide to ensuring every customer’s comfort and happiness, both while they’re inside your story and after they leave, purchase in hand.

We’ve been breaking down GEAR in our monthly newsletter. We began, of course, with “G,” or “Get Involved,” and taught you how to engage your customer in honest conversation. Then we covered the “E” of GEAR, “Edit,” and how to discover your customer’s personal needs. We’ve spent a lot of time on the “A” of GEAR, or “Appeal,” but we’re not done yet.
We’ve already talked about how to “Appeal” to a customer not with hokey selling techniques, but with a genuine experience; help them see what it would feel like to own the product. Answer their questions—both asked an unasked—with FBI: talk about the features (the easy part), like what it’s made of and how it works; benefits, or how the product will positively benefit their sport and life; and imagery, by creating a mental picture of how the customer will enjoy this product.
Even if you do everything right—you avoid mawkish closing techniques and discuss all the benefits of the product, crafting an image of this customer personally using and loving this product—you may still face the dreaded objection.
Though we might not like to talk, or even think, about objections, they are a very real hindrance in the world of specialty retail. “Appealing” to your customer also means refuting their objections and turning them into answers. Handling objections can be an awkward and difficult endeavor in retail, so we’ve broken the process down into five easy steps guaranteed to help you navigate those choppy waters.
1.     Slow down.
This may seem superfluous, but your demeanor can be the crux of a customer’s happiness (or unhappiness). By slowing down, you demonstrate that you are sensitive to their concerns and that you value their opinions. Glossing over the objection or speeding through your defense only accentuates your discomfort and might even imply a sense of dishonesty.
2.     Verbally Acknowledge the Objection.
Your actions are already telling the customer that you heard them, now it’s your mouth’s turn. Repeat their objection and verify that you understand their concern. Do not be condescending or judgmental; show that their concern is a genuinely valid one. Just as there is no wrong question in school, there’s no wrong objection in retail, and to imply that there is one will almost instantly lose the customer. Restating the objection can also help you gain more information about the root of the problem. By simply acknowledging the concern with your demeanor and words, you’ve already made headway that many salespeople can’t, which often prompts customers to go to a different store.
3.     Validate the Objection.
Communicate to your customer that their objection is in fact reasonable and sensible. It may come as a surprise—after all, they expect you to sell the product and argue for it, right?—and it will endear you to them and prove your reliability and honesty. If, for example, their objection is that the product is too expensive, you might say something like, “That’s a valid concern. You certainly don’t want to buy more than you need or overspend.” By validating their concern, you prove that you’re on their side, or at least unbiased. You’re not just a salesperson, you’re helping them pick out the best product for their needs.
4.     Review What’s Happened so Far.
Again, this helps to establish your validity as a resource, proving you’ve been paying attention and genuinely have their best interests in mind. Plus, reexamining the conversation might help unveil any other concerns or the root of the problem. Review why they came in, what they stated as their need, and any specific goals or concerns they mentioned. You might just reveal the very answer to their objection.
5.     Offer Other Helpful Information.
Here’s your opportunity to change their mind. If the price is their concern, talk to them about your store’s payment options. Discuss the specific benefits to buying from your store, as opposed to a big-box retailer with different prices or selections. What other kinds of reassurances can you offer that might help them to feel comfortable buying now? Ultimately, the goal is to help solve the puzzle—there’s an answer to their objection, you just have to help them find it. You’ve already endeared yourself to them, so now you simply walk them through the process of answering the objection.

If you follow this pattern of handling objections, the customer will understand that you will not let them make a bad purchase. They’ll be comfortable and, hopefully, ready to proceed with the purchase.

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