More Barrier Busters: How to use products to engage more customers


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Last week I wrote about the barrier that often exists between staff and customers, and why it is important to bust through that barrier in order to demonstrate the value a good staff adds to your customer’s store and purchase experience.

A few very astute readers noticed that one of the barrier busting tools that was missing was using products to engage the customer. Great catch! I was already planning to share those this week, but the last line of the article was accidently deleted. I love that a number of you pointed it out!

Here’s a fast reminder of last week’s barrier busters.

1. Warmly welcome your customer with a smile.

2. Get out from behind the counter.

3. Avoid using retail clichés like “How may I help you?”

4. Acknowledge and move past the first barrier.

5. Make it personal.

Now let’s add ways you can use products to bust those barriers and engage more customers.

1. Proactively show your customer your newest products. Customers can’t buy what they don’t know you sell. Sure, they can look around and see some of the products, but can they see all of them? Can they easily tell what the newest products are? Nope. That’s how you add value, and at the same time bust a barrier.

It’s important that you not ask a customer if he/she would like to see the product. Her/his natural reaction is to say no even before knowing what it is. You can ask, “Have you seen our new XWY?” A yes or no answer still gives you an opening to engage. A response of, “I’m just looking” is a clear sign the customer wants space. So be it.

If that happens, your best response is, “Great. Please let me know when you have a question and want my assistance.” Notice I didn’t say “if.” You know you add value, and you should plant the seed that the shopper will be reengaging with you.

2. Hand your customer a product whenever possible. Our work with boutiques, jewelry and other stores shows that when you get the product either in a customer’s hands or on their person, the likelihood to purchase increases substantially.

This is also true at a hardware store, pet store, toy store, camera store, and so on. If a product can be picked up, proactively hand it to your customer. They’ll take it. Retailers with glass cases will want to proactively pull products out to develop rapport with the customer, and then eventually show the customer the right products for them.

If the product is too big, you can still hand the customer some representation of the product including a brochure, sign, remote, etc. Your store should have a goal that every customer touches or tries on a product.

Let’s pause here for a moment. A couple of you are thinking that this is a pushy store experience. The kind you hate. Remember, you’re doing this to add value, but unfortunately your customers are used to “help” that doesn’t add value. That’s why we have to bust the barrier.

This may turn off one or two customers. But I’d rather engage and deliver a great experience to 98% and upset the other 2%, than not engage or deliver a great experience to anyone. If your staff is really passionate about the products and the customers, this approach will turn off very few customers if any.

3. Tell your customer about the product they’re looking at. A lot of you may have your staff doing this. It’s a great way to reengage. But don’t ask a customer if he/she has any questions or needs help! The answer will most likely be no.

If a customer is looking at but not touching a product, pick it up and hand it to him/her. If he/she is holding a product, show something similar.  Comparing two products is a great way to engage a customer and create product interest. Of course you can also tell him about the product he’s looking at, but that should transition to questions that ensure it is the right product for that person.

There you have it. Three ways to use products to engage your customer, develop rapport, and deliver an even better and more engaging store experience.

So let me ask, how proactive is your team in using products to bust the barriers?

– Doug

Did you know that I offer retailers an intensive one-day store visit? As a result of our spending the day together you’ll have an extensive number of ideas and strategies to grow your sales, staff, and improve your merchandising, marketing, and productivity. The client I visited last week sent this note, “Thank you Doug for coming and working with us yesterday! I have a ton of notes and a lot to think about and implement now and for next year.” Reply to this email to discuss having me visit your store.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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