Turning customer service into sales

Dennis Reid explores how implementing a strategy to turn service into sales.

When they can, shoppers will always choose control over service. Filling stations used to have attendants, the only way to book a flight was with a travel agent, but now consumers are becoming concerned with convenient and solution-focused shopping. That said, advice is a different matter. In order to lure customers away from control and over to service, you need specialists who offer inspired solutions and help shoppers make better decisions.

Promoting your services

The first part of your sales strategy means merchandising to sell and improving your verbal marketing.

Self-selling solutions ? At least 30% of your displays need to sell themselves by showing solutions to common problems. Showcase your products alongside inspirational planting plans, and highlight key selling points such as plants for borders, for corners, for shade and for sun.

Vital information ? Use POS to offer advice on how to achieve top results in the garden. This can be done in bullet points, and ended with a call to action to speak to your in-store Solutions Specialist or expert

Verbal marketing ? Prepare a ?best practice? guide that every staff member can follow when approaching a browser who looks interested.

Converting service into sales

Great service in no longer just about being nice. Service is when your customer goes home and realises; You helped me create the look/result/outcome I wanted ? you are my Garden Guru. In service, as in any relationship, both parties have to benefit from it; the customer gets the solution they need and you get a regular customer. On your end, this requires inspirational engagement and customer knowledge, which means training your teams in the basics of engagement and discovery

Person to person engagement ? Show your staff how to create a friendly atmosphere. This might mean putting the customer in a good mood, asking about how their day is going, commenting the time of year and/or asking whether they?ve been here before

Discovery ? This means asking all the key question for find out what your customers want and what they like. Make a list of killer questions everyone should ask customers who express an interest in something. This might include where it is going, what else is there and what look the customer wants. You also need to find our how knowledgeable they are. Get your staff to practise asking these questions and test each other on what they?ve learnt about their clientele.

Differentiating your service

It?s not enough for your service to be great; it also needs to stand out from the crowd. What will make shoppers choose your garden centre over others?

There are four real differentiators that make a destination garden centre:

  1. Innovation ? You have new products, first to market.
  2. Relationship ? You strive for excellence and useful service.
  3. Scope ? You have more variety than anyone else.
  4. Efficiency ? You?ve always got what the customer wants and it?s easy to shop there.

Of this list, choose the two differentiators that matter most to your clientele, and focus on delivering these before anything else.

Generating profit

Generating profit is not as simple as selling more products – it?s about winning more customers, providing better solutions and creating customer loyalty.

More recommendations ? Make sure you give simple advice at every opportunity.

More items per visit ? As well as having featured products, identify at least 20 accompanying products and offer them every time.

More repeat visits ? Always give a reason to return. Point out next month?s features, upcoming events, and opportunities to meet the expert.

Finally, think about every stage of the customer journey. Specify what you want your teams to do throughout the sales experience, from the welcome and navigation to inspiration and engagement. Above all else, leave a lasting impression and a reason to return.

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