Smile! (You'll sell more.)
The idea for this post originated at a Be Smart About Art networking event at an outdoor market. Amongst the long-standing traders were students and recent graduates, who had taken stalls and were exhibiting and selling their wares.
Everyone at the event was given an opportunity to mill about the market, and I bee-lined it for a falafel stand I had spotted when I arrived. I love falafels, I couldn’t wait to experience the explosions of flavour!
Except there was a problem... It was only 10 minutes to closing time, and the vendor was on shut-down mode. I understand all too well what that’s like, being a veteran retail manager. What happened next was the vendor lost my business.
The response of the falafel seller (falafelier?!) to my sad face was to suggest, with body language and style of talking to me, that all hope was lost. The grills were all turned off and the food was cold. He didn’t seem interested in selling anything to anyone, so I fulfilled his vision and opted to go elsewhere.
A mere 45 seconds later, having walked across the aisle and around a corner, I was greeted by an enthusiastic vendor determined to sell as much food stock remaining that she could. She gave me a big smile and invited me over to see what was remaining, having a make-it-happen-no-matter-what attitude. Better yet, she let me know that everything was reduced in price, as she didn’t want to be forced to throw away any of her wonderful food.
While the food itself was similar to what had been on display at the other stand, she didn’t present her now cooling oven as a problem. Instead, she presented the opportunity to get a good deal.
The two differing experiences present different values in ‘shopper currencies’*, a concept I recently learned about in Which? magazine**. At the original stall, I would have paid a bit more - (had the stand still been open), which would have been fine, since the artisan quality and time taken in preparation would have made up for the price. At the stand where I bought the food, I was provided cold (but still homemade) food at a discount, and the price and speed of transaction made up for the lack of food that was piping hot.
Think about how one seller get my business, and the other didn’t. It was down to differences in how they engaged me, the prospective customer. As much as the look of the original stand had tempted me, it was the customer service that closed the deal on the second one.
You hear this kind of thing time and time - that is, what a big impact personal engagement has on closing sales. And it couldn’t be more true! While someone might love what you create, it will be the personal experience in the lead up to a potential purchase that will result in this happening. This is even more the case when it comes to luxury items, such as art.
What can you do to enhance the experience for others? And how are others who are working with you and/or representing you coming across to prospects?
The importance of this consideration is high. Your future business relies upon getting it right.
*'According to Which?, 'shopper currencies' suggests three cruicial elements to a shopper's experience: time, money and angst. Imagine them as a triangle... and if a retailer can't adjust one side of it, they make up for it by adjusting the other sides. Hence feeling happy to spend more on the artisan food that would have also been an experience, and still being glad to purchase cold food that was cheap and quickly provided. They presented differing values at corresponding values.
** This is the UK equivalent of Consumer's Digest (USA).