“I don’t understand it,” Bob said. “I have great merchandise, better than anyone in Westchester County. My prices may not be the lowest, but they’re reasonable for the quality. So what’s going on here?”
Bob’s hardware store is nearly deserted. The customers who are there wander around quietly for a moment or two before leaving – and without buying anything. To the objective observer, the problem is clear: no one is buying because no one is selling. Bob and his clerk stand behind the counter, watching customers with an eagle eye – but they won’t say a word until the customer come to the counter.
“I shouldn’t have to do any selling,” Bob says. “This merchandise is so good it should sell itself.”
One of the harshest truths many Westchester small business owners ever learn is that no merchandise – or service – ever sells itself. To run a successful Westchester business, you need to know and engage with your customer, providing them with an experience that enhances the enjoyment they get from your product or service.
There are several ways to do this. A valuable exercise is to think through your own personal experiences with your favorite businesses. Make a list of the reasons you enjoy interacting with these companies. Chances are that in addition to factors like price or quality, there are considerations like “the people are friendly”, “all of my questions are answered – even the ones I didn’t know I should ask!”, or “I feel confident that I’m making the right decision when I shop there.” These considerations are emotional in nature, formed in large part by the interaction you have with the sales team.
Understanding what type of experience customers want to have from a Westchester business like yours makes it easier to develop an effective sales strategy. Many types of people visit hardware stores. If they’re the type that value helpful assistance and suggestions on how to complete whatever job they’re picking up parts for, they’re not going to be pleased with Bob’s silent and removed strategy.
It’s important to note that there are plenty of other factors that Bob needs to consider. For example, the town may be experiencing a changing demographic with a higher population of renters rather than homeowners or perhaps this hardware store is experiencing competition from a nearby Home Depot which can offer a similar quality at lower prices. Maybe Bob’s hardware store is using ineffective advertising or no advertising at all? The inventory selection should also be evaluated because maybe they just aren’t providing some of the products their potential customers need. Your sales numbers are a good reflection of how effective your sales strategy is and if they’re way too low, it’s time to thoroughly evaluate and adjust your sales strategy.
Learn more about effective sales strategies by attending the SCORE Westchester free workshop, Sales Strategies, on August 28th. You’ll learn how to develop a customer profile, do market research, and target your customers more effectively. Space is limited, so you’ll want to reserve your seat today!