Friday, November 14, 2008

Stop Worrying About The Economy and Start Focusing on Sales

Retail sales tumbled again in October, posting a record dive as consumers cut back spending on a wide variety of goods ranging from cars to furniture to electronics. Should you be worried as an entrepreneur? Not at all.

Here are some snippets from a column written by Elly Valas, a retail consultant, sales expert, and contributor at

Stop worrying about the economy and start focusing on things you can control. If business is flat or down, you’ll have to steal market share from your competitors to stay even or grow. In order to that, you’ll have to be faster, smarter, more creative, and offer better customer service.

A recent study, the Retail Consumer Dissatisfaction Survey, showed the top reasons why customers don’t buy. One third reported they couldn’t find a sales associate; 25 percent were completely ignored by a sales associate, and six said they left because associates were poorly trained.

According to a study conducted by Bain & Company, 80 percent of companies believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. Customers of those companies, however, only felt that 8 percent delivered an exceptional experience. Ouch.

Act like a job applicant. After all, you’re trying to get “hired” as your client’s trusted advisor-and create a resume to convince prospects why they should buy from you.

...List the ways your company differentiates your customer’s buying experience. Don’t forget to tout your [perks]. For example: extended credit terms; delivery, repair, service and installation departments; experienced sales staff; extensive displays; brand-name product selection, [and even free shipping]. You can even list your no lemon policy and your price guarantee.

Don’t hesitate to sell [yourself and/or] your staff as career professionals. Publicize awards you’ve won from trade associations, industry groups or magazines. You only get to be retailer of the year if you know your stuff.

Monitor your customer satisfaction to ensure outstanding service. Tell your clients you’ll be in touch with them to answer any questions that may come up after they’ve used their products for a week or so. Call customers to ensure they are satisfied with the purchase experience. Field any questions they have and ask if they’d buy from you again. Finally, ask them to refer friends.

Customer dissatisfaction happens when there is a disconnect in the experience customers think they’re going to get and what is actually delivered. Warehouse clubs are successful because they deliver on their no-frills, low-price promise. If you’re claiming to be the best, then your [business] needs to shine and your team needs to dress and act like professionals.

Valas also writes that if you own a gas station, remember that when gas is over $4 a gallon, people still buy gas. Your job is to make sure they buy from you and not from your competitors.

For the complete article, visit:

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