Stopping the deal and low price mentality


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Last week I sent time visiting and secretly shopping retail stores, insurance agents, and other companies. I feel like I’m in an episode of Undercover Boss, except I’m not their boss.

One common issue I’m seeing is that of employees assuming the customer doesn’t want to spend much money. In almost every interaction I’ve been told about a sale and shown the cheapest products. I would ordinarily use the words “least expensive,” not “cheapest,” but that’s the word the salesperson used. I even had one person tell me to go buy from their competitor to save money! You can’t make this stuff up.

This belief that shoppers ONLY want a deal, or to buy the least expensive product available, has to have a negative impact on sales. Yes, some consumers have traded down the last few years. Yes, some consumers do want a deal. The key word is some. Not all.

I understand that a number of customers do ask for deals and what’s on sale. They’re a vocal group by nature. They stand out because the rest of the customers don’t walk in and announce they’re willing to spend whatever it takes to buy what they like. I call them the silent majority.

I firmly believe that we owe it to our customers to assume they want to buy the best product that meets their needs or fulfills their desires. Period. It’s a disservice to do otherwise.

This is why you should always recommend products to your customers using what we call the Butcher Rule. Let me remind you about the Butcher Rule and how to apply it.

The Butcher Rule is to always show the best product that meets the customer’s needs.When you walk up to a butcher counter and ask the butcher what’s good he will never reply, “The ground turkey is great today.” Instead, he will tell you about the filet mignon or prime rib.

Of course, if a customer is looking for chicken the butcher won’t suggest a filet since that would not meet his/her needs. But the butcher might recommend the free-range chicken that listened to opera instead of the chicken that was penned up and didn’t get to enjoy any tunes before meeting her demise.

The key to applying the Butcher Rule is to ask the right questions and then use that information to recommend the best product without giving your customer sticker shock.

Say you run a store that sells nothing but wallets. You carry wallets from $5 to $5,000. If a customer comes in and is looking for a wallet you aren’t going to show her the $5,000 wallet first thing.

Instead, you want to discover what kind of wallet she currently has and what else she has owned. You also want to know if she is looking for something casual or something for a special occasion. You want to know if there are any particular brands and styles she likes and appreciates.

Based on her answer you might show your customer a wallet in the $400 range. If she asks, “What else do you have?” take one step down. As a result, your customer might leave your store very happy with her new $300 wallet.

Chances are, if you had started with the $5 wallet your customer would have walked away empty-handed. She might not have sticker shock but she might have salesperson-missing-the-boat shock. Not understanding a customer’s needs and showing too inexpensive a product can be just as off-putting as showing a product that’s far above the customer’s budget.

As experts, it’s our role to match each customer with the right products. The only way to do that is to know as much as possible about both the customer and the product. I believe most customers get sticker shock because the salesperson didn’t learn enough about them to show them the correct product.

I’d like to encourage every reader to use the Butcher Rule today. No more trying to sell up from the least expensive item or always leading with what’s on sale. Instead, talk with your customer and then sell down from the best product that meets his/her needs or desires.

So let me ask, are you committed to the Butcher Rule? As Sam the Butcher says, “Never suggest hamburger to a customer who wants a steak.”

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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