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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 1:14 pm | Fair 68º


Paul Burri: Survival Suggestions, Part II

Especially in slow economic times, train employees to make every sale count

[Noozhawk’s note: The following is an excerpt from a speech Paul Burri delivered at a SCORE seminar. Click here for the first part.]

Let’s talk about a lost sale here and there. When you’re busy as hell, so what? But when things get tight, you can’t afford to lose even one sale. How do you do that?

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

Make sure your sales people are totally familiar with your product or service. Be sure that if a customer asks for something that’s slightly different from what you ordinarily sell, your sales person is flexible enough to still make the sale. If a customer asks for a green wheelbarrow and you only have red ones, what should you do?

Here’s a story about how an employee at a local restaurant lost a nice sale. I took out-of-town visitors to a local restaurant and was told the restaurant didn’t open until 5 p.m. But this restaurant had an affiliate restaurant upstairs that was open and doing business at the time. Why didn’t the employee suggest that we go upstairs? Poor training? Didn’t care one way or the other? You need to change that sort of mind-set.

Here’s how an employee can improve your sales. I went to a local bookstore looking for a particular book. After looking around for a while, I stopped one of the employees and told him what I was looking for. He was very helpful and took me to it. He reached down and handed me the book. It was a soft-covered book. On the shelf next to it was a hardcover version that cost more. He assumed I wanted the cheaper version.

Now here’s the thing. The store had both in its inventory. Which book do you suppose the owner would prefer to sell? Why didn’t the clerk hand me both books and let me choose which one I wanted? During slow economic times, every sale counts. Now is the time, when things are slow, to train your employees to maximize every sale.

Now let’s talk about product depth. Product depth is when you offer various quality or size levels to promote sales.

Have you ever taken your car in to a local car wash? You know they almost always offer three or more levels of service. Platinum service too expensive? We also have gold and silver services for less money. Don’t lose a sale because you have only one price level to offer customers.

During tough times, you can’t afford to lose even one sale. Once you have a customer in your store, be sure that he or she doesn’t leave without buying something.

And by the way, always remember that it is three to five times easier to keep a customer than to develop a new one. Do everything you can to keep the customers you have. Stay in contact with them by e-mail, follow-up phone calls, direct mail — whatever is appropriate to your business.

I have a friend who owns a tire shop. Every time he sells a set of tires, he offers a free tire rotation at every 5,000 miles. Why? To get his customers to come back to his store even if they don’t buy something every time. That’s good marketing.

In conclusion, it’s easy to ignore small leaks when you’re busy and sales are great. When the economy slows down, most businesses can’t afford to do that. Small leaks will sink a small boat.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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