Retailing is a challenging business, and for the independent store owner wanting to boost sales and profits, it typically comes down to spending more money on advertising and promotion to get more people into the store, in hopes they will buy more. But sales growth expert, Bob Janet, suggests another way. He thinks that the independent retailer should put away that high cost thinking and concentrate instead on four time tested, inexpensive ways to increase sales and profits. And Janet should know. Besides being a sales trainer par excellence, he has owned and operated retail and distribution businesses for the past 40 plus years. Of Janet’s frontline experience, you can say, “He’s been there, done that.”
“I get telephoned a few times each week by owners and managers of businesses of all sizes, asking, ‘What can we do to generate more profits?’ ‘What can I do to increase sales?,'” Janet said recently. “I always answer, There are a lot of things you can do. But if you want a fast answer, here are three words you need to employ in your business to build profits: (1) aggressive, (2) sweat, and (3) benefits.”
1) Become more aggressive in marketing your business in non-costly ways. According to Janet, all you need to do is use the magic words, Who do you know? Every customer you have, knows someone who needs and wants your products and services. “All you have to do is be aggressive and ask, ‘Who do you know?’. It does not cost a cent to ask, and you will get great leads.”
2) Sweat Equity. Janet also suggests that retailers spend more productive time working on the business. “The days of the 30, 40, or even 50 to 60 hour week for owners and managers are over,” he stressed. “Look back at the beginning of your business. I bet the people who started your business (it may have been you) never had very many weeks that were less than 70 hours. When you work aggressively, twice as much as your competition, you will be more productive and make more sales.”
“For over 40 years, my retail/wholesale businesses were open from 7am to 9pm, six days a week. I always marveled at the business we did on Saturday afternoons and evenings in every store; tires, furniture, electronics, appliances and jewelry. But there was no secret. All of our competition closed at noon or 3pm. We were the only ones open to take the customers’ money. And my competition never figured it out. In fact, I still have trouble believing they gave me even more business when they decided to close early at noon on Wednesdays in the summer. And then, of course, I had the only sales staff that did not dash out the door at closing time. You see it all the time; sales people shutting down a half hour before closing time, so they can get out the door with the customers at the strike of the hour.”
3) Sell your product benefits. Janet emphasized that retailers and their sales people must get in the habit of selling benefits, and he was quick to point out the difference between features and benefits. He said that a feature is the product or service, and the components the product or service is made up of. On the other hand, the benefits are what the customer gains from the features. “When you sell a product that will solve your prospect’s problems, needs and wants, of course sell the benefits of that product,” continued the sales pro. “But even when you are selling the same product as your competition, sell the product benefits, because in most cases your competition is not selling benefits.”
Janet summarized that the three inexpensive keys to generating more sales and profits is to become more aggressive in marketing your business in non-costly ways, sweat equity, and selling benefits. Janet offered a fourth tool as well, a completely free, effective tool that many retailers and sales people simply forget: Ask For The Sale! “80 to 90 percent of sales people in every industry are great at showing and talking about their products,” according to Janet, “and 30 to 40 percent of them are good at selling their benefits. But only about ten percent of all sales people Ask For The Sale.”
The Post Office does it. So can you.
Have you been to your local post office lately, asked sales pro, Bob Janet. “Take the time, make a trip there. Go right up to the window and, “Listen.” Sometime during the exchange between the customer and the postal worker, they will ask the customer to buy postal products that most customers had no intention of even considering buying. They always ask you if you need any stamps or mailing supplies. They ask for the sale. Why do they do this? Because it works,” he confirmed. Janet continued, “I tried to find out exactly how much their sales of stamps and postal supplies have increased since they started practicing, “Asking for the sale,” but it must be one of those government secrets. But the postal workers at the windows did tell me their sales have increased greatly. Your sales will increase too when you actively ask for the sale. And the wonderful thing about it is you do not have to increase your marketing costs.”
Janet recalled that in the 1960s and 1970s, his tire business used selling gas to bring people into the business. This was not a lost leader, but a profit making center. “Back in those days, there was no self service,” he said. “An attendant pumped your gas for you. The gas business was profit making, because we knew two things: automobiles back then always needed their oil checked with every fill-up, because they burned and leaked oil. And we made $1.75 on every quart of oil we sold. Although we only pumped gas into 60 to 70 automobiles a day, we made a lot of extra sales and profits. On average, we sold 30 quarts of oil a day, times $1.75 a quart, equals $52.50 extra profit a day, times six days a week, equals $315 profit, times 52 weeks a year, equals $16,380 a year profit, just by saying to the customer, ‘Pop your hood, I will check your oil.’ That was our way of ‘asking for the sale’.”
While Janet’s attendants were under the hood, they would check for worn belts and other leaks that could be repaired for a profit. “Plus, as we walked around their automobile, we looked at their tires and made replacement recommendations as needed. We sold lots of tires by just saying, “Mr. Customer, your tires are worn out and need replacement.” Again our way of, “Asking for the sale.” According to Janet, even though every owner, manager and every salesperson in every business knows you make more sales and more profits when you Ask For The Sale, the fact is that 85 percent of the interactions between sales people and prospects end without the sales person ever asking for the sale. Eighty five percent!”
Janet said that a Notre Dame study shows:
• 46 percent of salespeople ask for the sale only one time.
• 26 percent of salespeople ask twice.
• 12 percent ask three times.
• Nine percent ask four times.
• And 60 percent of the customers buy on the fifth request!
To make a lot of extra money, all you have to do is Ask For The Sale, concludes this sales pro.
For more information:
Sales Growth Now
2720 Bent Oak Drive
Matthews, NC 28104