Whether you sell flooring, tires, furniture, appliances or other retail merchandise you’ve probably noticed a decrease in the amount of walk in traffic and more phone calls from consumers asking questions. The internet has fundamentally changed the way consumers shop for products. If you’re in retail you don’t have the same advantage of a service industry such as a plumber, auto repair, etc. because most people that purchase from you consider it to be a “luxury” purchase.
Over the last 10+ years I’ve worked with hundreds of companies on this very subject as time continues to move forward. In 2018, I surveyed 100 people randomly and asked them, when they are shopping for a new car or new flooring why is it that they shop around from place to place before making a decision. 90% of the answers were: they are looking for the best price or deal. I then asked a follow up question, “If price is so important, how many times a week do we buy something, anything, when we could have gotten it cheaper elsewhere?” ALL THE TIME! Whether it is a pack of gum or a tank of gas. We could drive all around town looking for the cheapest gas prices but we don’t do that do we? Why is that? The answer is simple – Time & Convenience are the 2 most important things for consumers in 2020.
Inside Out Marketing vs. Outside in Marketing
At your retail company do you advertise/market inside out or outside in? This is a very important question to get the answer to if you’re goal is to find more paying customers in 2020.
“At X flooring company we sell Tile, Carpet, Hardwood, Laminate, Granite, Cabinets and so much more. Since 1970 we’ve been your One Stop Shop for all of your home improvement needs. We carry such popular brands like Mohawk, Shaw, Daltile and many others to ensure you get the best quality that also fits your budget. Conveniently located off highway 1 near the gas station. Open 8-5 Monday-Saturday stop in today and ask about our free financing!
So what are you really saying in your marketing? Let’s reword it this way – “We are X flooring company, we are basically the exact same as our competitors, our prices are a little different because of our margins but we would like to earn your business because we have a unique name and a different location and phone number. Please stop by today and see us!”
That is the perfect example of “Inside Out Marketing”. There is no doubt that you are an expert in your field of business. However, with more people plugged into the internet they already know you sell flooring and what products you sell. So the only real difference between you and your competitors to a prospective customer is your name and location. Think of it this way…Have you ever seen a Coca Cola commercial where they said – “We are Coca Cola, we sell soda products like Coke, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew and many others. You can find our products in most convenience stores and grocery stores. We look forward to earning your business” They don’t market themselves that way because people already know that, so follow their model and change the way you talk about your business if you want to be successful moving forward.
All of our business comes from word of mouth
In the days of the yellow pages this was truer than it is now. Sure, people still refer businesses and services they are pleased with to their family and friends. If I refer my local furniture store to my neighbor it will probably sound something like this – “If you need a great couch you should go to X furniture store over there off the beltline near hwy 11” In 2020, consumers have much easier access to fast information than they used to with the internet. Once I make that suggestion to my neighbor, he will most likely look that company up to find the actual address, hours of operation, phone number and REVIEWS! If it’s not easily accessible then he can afford to wait because it is a “luxury” purchase.
Word of mouth is still great but as the internet evolves and people get more savvy in using the web word of mouth is beginning to diminish slowly but surely because most businesses are not keeping up with their customers in terms of internet presence. Don’t wait until your customers find you, you go and find them!Make sure your business does a good job with the following:
- Getting reviews from happy customers.
- Following up with shoppers with a CRM program or follow up phone calls
- Google yourself every week so you can see what your customers are seeing
- Stay active on social media
- Keep up with current buying trends of your customers
- STOP worrying about your competitors, make sure YOU stand out
- Upgrade your online business presence as the internet evolves
Nowadays people are beginning to shop online more than ever! I work with numerous flooring companies. You would think that a purchase that big someone would need to go in person to buy that. If you’re a flooring company, notice how many more calls you are getting recently for installation and not so much purchasing the flooring. People are shopping online with Home Depot, Lowes, Wholesale websites, etc. Make sure your company offers the value to keep your customers local and you have the correct branding to keep them from shopping online.
Follow up is KING!
I know you follow up with your customers that come into your store, or call you for prices. The problem is, most follow up calls are performed the wrong way. If a consumer doesn’t buy from you during their visit or doesn’t show up after an initial phone call there is a reason for that. I’ve watched several of my clients perform follow up phone calls, it usually consists of asking the customer if they have any questions, asking if they’ve made a decision or presenting a sense of urgency like “We only have limited quantities remaining and we can hold this for you if you’d like”.
THAT DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE
Why didn’t they buy from you? Some might guess it was price or availability. This is where notes are vitally important when qualifying a customer WAY BEFORE a follow up ever happens. Learn as much as you can about your customer and their needs that way when you follow up you can ask the correct questions. Some good questions to ask might include:
- We are calling for marketing purposes, how would you rate the quality of your visit with our store on a scale of 1-10?
- I just got in 2 other products that are very similar to what you were looking at that are different prices, would you like me to send you an email with pictures and price options?
- Let’s forget about the quote I gave you for a moment, what is your budget?
Asking questions like these will tell you a lot about what your customers needs and wants are, thereby allowing you to modify your quote to earn their business. Find out why they didn’t buy from you and improve from within. Lastly, you deserve a YES or NO. If they have called or stopped into your place of business you deserve a yes or no from that customer. Ask them for the sale and demand an answer.
Buy from your customers, don’t let them buy from you.
We use “Reverse Psychology Objections”. Think about what the most common objections are that people give you in your industry and use those objections on your customers before they can use them on you. In retail, some objections could and do include:
- Just shopping around
- Need to talk to spouse
- It’s too expensive for me at this time
- I’ll be back in a week
Use these objections on your customers before they can use them on you. You will then take control of the sale and leave the prospective customer the only option, a yes or no. If I was a sales person in a flooring company and someone called or came into the store I might say something like this:
“Welcome, good morning! Thanks for stopping in, before we begin I only have 2 questions, how much do you need and what is your budget? (answer) Now, I know you’re shopping around but allow me to show you some of the options I have available now. Are you shopping for yourself or your family?”
Using the “RPO” you will eliminate objections and leave the customer with nothing else to say except yes or no. You have to ask for the sale in today’s digital marketplace. If that customer walks into your store and finds products they like it’s only a matter of time before they go to the internet and find it somewhere cheaper online and order it. There is also “Reverse Image Searches”, ever seen a customer take a picture of your product? They can reverse image search it online and find all the prices to buy it online. Eliminate the urge to buy online cheaper by providing the convenience, value and time that is so important to every consumer in 2020 and going forward.
For a free consultation, contact us today!