Are Your Competitors Eating Your Lunch?

When I ask a business owner “Who is your competition?” they often reply, “We don’t have any.” Maybe they didn’t have any before COVID-19.

I don’t know if they’re being arrogant, or they really think they have no competitors but today, more than ever, everyone and everything is competition. Businesses are all after the same customer, the customer with a bank account and willingness to spend. It remains to be seen how many are out there. I believe it’s more a question of where should I spend my money and on what?

I bring this up because I hear salespeople saying, “Oh he’ll be back; we’re the best in town.” The other day I was looking for a new television, I have a small  one in my kitchen, and I’m dying for a bigger screen, so I can do Pilates in my living room.  I went into Best Buy; the salesman was very friendly, moderately helpful but didn’t push. I left the store, went down the street and bought a couple of pairs of shoes. I guess I’m not buying a TV at Best Buy this week. I really wanted a TV but the salesperson’s lack of enthusiasm about my purchase took away my excitement. Somehow buying a TV lost its thrill.

So how do you know if your customer is coming back? You don’t know, neither does the customer!

So what should you do? Treat every customer as if your store was the last stop on the “shopping merry-go-round.” Smile, ask questions, stand on your head; keep them in your store as long as possible.

Ask them the appropriate questions—have you ever bought this product before, do you have one like it at home, what do you like about it, what don’t you like about it? All of these questions say, “I’m interested in you and your life; I want you to invest in what’s right for you.”

Yes, many salespeople are still asking, “Can I help you?’ Frankly, no matter how much training they’ve received I think it’s hard-wired into their brains. That expression along with “have a nice day” should be barred from the English language; or the sales floor.
The other day I was at Key Bank discussing Relationship Management and what it really means to the customer. Relationship Management is the reason for their success, and KEY Bank does a good job. Relationship Management is not easy; it means asking questions, keying in on the customer’s response and then following up.

Selling your product is not customer service or relationship management it’s doing your job. In order to manage a relationship you first have to build one. Relationships, no matter what your businesses are built on mutual trust and understanding. This doesn’t happen when you utter those 4 awful words—can I help you?

Social media has made building relationships easier and more complicated. If you’re not asking your customer about social media, you are missing out on building that relationship. Where are they hanging out on line, are they playing Words with Friends, what causes do they support? These are great questions for building rapport and also finding out the best way to communicate with your customers.
It’s one way to start building that relationship.

Lisbeth can be reached for a free consultation through email, [email protected] or phone, 518.495.5380.

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