GEAR: “R” Appeal Part One

As is the case with so many things in life, we’ve saved the best for last.
 
Over the past six months, we’ve divulged the secrets of our retail guide, GEAR. We’ve talked about the entire sales process from beginning to near end, how to learn about and satisfy your customers. We began with G, or Get Involved” with the customer with genuine discourse; then we talked about E,” or Edit,” the phase in which you discover and discuss the customer’s needs; and finally the “A,” Appeal,” which we revealed was your opportunity to help the customer envision themselves using the product. And now we come to the last, integral piece of the acronym, “R”  for “Relationship.”
All the pieces of GEAR hinge on this final letter, because developing a relationship with your customer is really what GEAR is, as well as the final product achieved through the end of the sale. Through the other various aspects of GEAR, the salesperson learns about their customers needs and wants and guides them to the best product. Now it’s time to finish the sale and, more importantly, create a relationship that will keep the customer coming back for years to come.
It’s science: it’s easier to retain and develop existing customers than it is to attract new ones. So it makes sense that developing strong and true bonds with your existing customers—that customer who’s already in your store and talking with you—is invaluable.
We’ve mentioned before our disdain for “closing techniques” or pitchy sales tactics; instead, creating a genuine, longterm relationship should be your end goal, always. As we like to say, “You’re not closing sales, you’re starting relationships.” If the customer chooses to buy a product, it’s our opportunity to begin a relationship with them. It’s so important to remember that although finishing the sale is great, retaining a customer and developing a lasting rapport is the decisive mark of a successful retailer.
So what, exactly, does a relationship entail beyond today’s particular exchange? Before they leave, and even after, you should provide the customer with everything they need to know about the product in order to operate and maintain it effectively. If a problem occurs with their product, now or in the future, it’s your responsibility to offer them the best solution. When they return to your store, you should remember them, and let them know that your relationship matters. Discuss their experience with your product and your store, and make sure they’re still happy. If the relationship is built on a solid foundation, these customers will continue to return for years and years to come!
So how do you achieve that solid foundation? By finishing the GEAR process strong and with a meaningful sale. Often, it’s difficult for a customer to navigate this ultimate (and at times, awkward) part of the shopping experience. It’s your job to gently guide them to the final sale. As they ask, literally and figuratively, “What’s next?” it’s your job to show them the answer: a relationship. So it’s time to ask for that sale.
How do you do that? Carefully, and with these subtle cues.
1.     Use assumptive language.
Just as in “Appeal” you helped the customer envision themselves using and enjoying the product, use the same attenuated language to help them envision the next part of the sale. Refer to a previous part of your conversation, and connect it to their future with the product, because of course they’re going to walk out with it. You might, for example, say something like “You’ll experience much less back pain while using this backpack.”
2.     Begin the check out process.
Guide the customer toward the cash wrap with your body language and your actuallanguage. You might say something like “Let me help you get these items to the front register,” and help them carry their merchandise in that direction.
3.     Ask for customer’s business in relationship-oriented terms.
It should be your priority to help the customer forget this is a business transaction and genuinely believe this is a relationship—because it is. Convey to them that you’re truly interested in their experience with their product and the outdoors! Say something like, “After you’ve hiked in these boots, come back in and give me your reaction. I want to know that this worked for you!” By indicating that you care, you develop trust and intimacy that will inspire the customer to return.
4.     If appropriate, gather information for follow up and Customer Relations.
The focus through the “Relationship” portion of gear is on the customer’s useof the product. When are they going to use it, and how? Is there anything else they might need? If they commit to using the item, you know they’ll be back for more.

Once you arrive at the cash wrap, the most important process of GEAR commences. We’ll delve into this integral part of “R” next month!

About the Author:

As a freelance writer and editor, Emily has the luxury of being completely mobile—but there’s nowhere she’d rather be than right here in Asheville (though she’s on the road more often than not). You’ll find her work in a variety of publications around town and the country, as well as in our monthly newsletter. In her free time, Emily enjoys exploring the mountains and valleys around Asheville and the cocktail bars and restaurants within it. 

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