This article originally featured in ‘Bicycling Trade’ Magazine; December 2016
With online retailers often cheaper and more convenient, you have to offer things the e-tailers can’t: human interaction, relationship, intimacy, touch and feel, immediacy, know-how and personalised service.
All forms of human interaction can be boiled down to the basest of human instincts and functions. Flirting is one of those ‘base’ interactions we’re all familiar with. Selling is no different. It comes more naturally to some than others. It can go as horribly wrong as much as it can go wonderfully well. Regardless of your own innate ability, it’s something we can all work on and get better at. And the skills and approach are almost identical.
Therefore, I reckon if you can flirt, you can sell a bike!
1. DON’T BE SHY – BUT DON’T GO IN TOO HARD EITHER
Smile. Say, ‘Hello!’ Ask them how their day’s been. Introduce yourself and make them feel welcome. But then leave it at that for a bit. Let them be the next one to talk. Go in too hot and heavy and they’ll be heading for the exit, or at least they’ll try to keep their visit as short as possible.
2. USE THE RIGHT BODY LANGUAGE
Take an open stance. Stand tall and confident. Don’t fidget or cross your arms. And mirror them where possible, but without being too obvious about it. Mirroring is a classic way of making someone feel comfortable with you. It shows a physical empathy and helps to develop a sub-conscious sense of trust and kinship.
3. BE A GOOD LISTENER
Whilst you can lead the conversation, try to allow and indeed encourage your customer to talk as much as possible. You want them to tell you a story about their needs and wants.
Firstly because it will give you the cues for what their motivators and anxiety points are; which will help you to determine the best solutions for them. But secondly because encouraging people to open up and talk about themselves and their needs is a great way to make them feel comfortable, important and special. The more reasons, justifications and motivations they give you, the more inherent authorisation they’re giving you to propose a suggestion or solution.
4. SHOW OFF – JUST A LITTLE BIT
Confidence breeds confidence. Customers want to feel confident in your knowledge, abilities, experience and passion. So give them some examples of your technical understanding, your product knowledge, or perhaps that story about when you were using one of those saddles when you raced Sir Chris Hoy or Caroline Buchanan. But just give them short bursts. Don’t lay it on too thick, or you’ll just come across as arrogant or self-absorbed.
5. HAVE A LAUGH
Lighten the mood with a joke or two. Even ‘dad jokes’ will do, especially if they’re a bit self-deprecating (bot of course nothing ‘inappropriate’ either). Laughter relaxes people and makes them want to stick around longer. A sense of humour is endearing and humanising. Sharing a joke is a quick but simple way to forge a relationship with someone. Again, as with my previous point, don’t go overboard with it either. Get the balance right and you’ll have a new repeat customer.
6. BE HONEST
Just like chat-up merchants, ‘sales people’ can have a slimy or sleazy reputation for saying whatever they feel they need to, to get the deal across the line, with flagrant disrespect for the truth or their unwitting target. If you want to avoid being a ‘one night stand’ with an instant bad reputation, always be honest. Honesty and integrity lies at the heart of any human relationship of substance or importance. Tell them if a product isn’t right for their needs, or if they’re spending too much, or too little, or whether they should wait for two weeks for the new model. Do so and you’ll win their trust and support for the long haul.
7. ASK THEM TO DANCE
At some point, you’ve got to go in for ‘the sale’; which invariably means asking for it. There’s no need to feel queasy about it. You’re both adults. They knew what you were selling and they walked in on their own volition with at least some intention of making a purchase. You don’t have to use crude words like ‘purchase’, ‘buy’ or ‘invoice’. You can ask them if; ‘You’d like me to put those in a bag for you?’ or ‘I could have that built up for you this afternoon if you’d like?’ So absolutely, be direct and ask for the sale, or risk them leaving without a result.
8. BE A LITTLE BIT CHEEKY
Most sales people are happy to have gotten to first base and to leave it at that. And that’s fine to a point. But a true ‘sales person’ is always comfortable with being a bit cheeky and trying to push the discussion to an add-on, an upgrade or a partner sale. You’ve built the relationship, the trust and the momentum, why not take it to second base and improve the result? We’re conditioned to being sold to. And when we’re in the mood and in the swing of it, we’re happy to step up and spend more than we originally intended. A good salesperson always knows that. You’re selling passion to the passionate at the end of the day. Just make sure they’re a willing participant at all times.
9. MAKE SURE YOU GET THEIR NUMBER
Regardless of whether you clinched the deal or not, don’t ever waste your newly struck relationship, familiarity and trust. Always try to get your customer entered into your CRM (customer relationship management) system for future reference and the ability to maintain the conversation and communication. You might have to offer them something in return, such as a free check-up, a club card or an invite to a test ride day, but just make sure you keep getting those contact details.
10. THANK THEM
Always say thank you at the end of every visit and every purchase. Let them know how much you appreciate their support and patronage. Your customers are golden and should be treated as such. Make sure they feel valued every time they visit and tell them you’re already looking forward to seeing them next time.
You old smoothy, you.
Jonathon Nunan (No. That’s not me by the way)
Australia’s Bicycle Industry Consultant & Commentator
Read more at http://www.bicyclingtrade.com.au/news/retail/better-bike-business-if-you-can-flirt-you-can-sell-a-bike#6MGTK6R6SslhA2Xq.99