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Archive for July, 2010

So, I am hoping you’ll excuse my ranting if I promise (this time) to point out and expose the ignorance we are all up against as consumers … and the opportunity it offers all of us as business owners.  Yep – this time…  I am going to point fingers.  =)

This past weekend, my sister-n-law (Brandi), my niece (Mackenzy) and my girls (Summer and Shelbey) went out for some girl time…. our agenda included a movie and some retail therapy.   Most specifically, I was headed to the MAC counter at Greenbrier Mall for a makeover. I needed EVERYTHING… foundation, liner, mascara, blush… and anything else they used to make me look like a rock star.  (Well… at least as close to a rock star as they could get – given what they had to work with!)  You should know that I am a very good customer for MAC.  It is what I use.  Whenever I am out of something, I go back…. get a makeover… and buy more.  In fact, THIS is how I discovered MAC in the first place.  My Mom and I were in Macarthur Mall and had some time to kill.  We got makeovers.  I bought WAY TOO MUCH makeup from MAC and fell in love… and have been loyal ever since.  Until Saturday.

I went to the MAC counter relieved to find that BOTH “sales” associates were available.  I confidently explained that Brandi and

I would love a make-over …. sort of looking for a new look for summer… That is when I was informed that they no longer offered make-overs unless we both committed – ahead of time – to buying at least $50 of products.  NOW, if I got away from the MAC counter spending ONLY $50 – my husband would be a very happy man…. I could have easily made that commitment.  If nothing else, my foundation and blush would have set me back that much or more. But that’s not the point.  Their new “policy” is ignorant.

NOW, instead of capitalizing on the fun, spontaneous and built in peer-pressure of a girl on girl shopping trip, they’ve effectively eliminated it and replaced it with a “mandate”, a “minimum”, a CHORE. Instead of tallying up everything they use and taking away ONLY that which I can justify doing without… I am now looking for the minimum of what I can get away with buying… Not what do I WANT?  But what am I OBLIGATED to buy?   Instead of enticing people with the difference their products (when artistically applied) can make, they now AVOID any sales presentation unless their prospect is already sold on buying a minimum amount.  Essentially, they’ve eliminated their number one sales tool – their MOST EFFECTIVE sales tool – and replaced it with something that will end prospective customer relationships before they even begin.  Not smart, MAC.

(As a quick side note, I LOVE MAC foundation.. and am out.  Therefore, I persisted.  I asked if they would be willing to do a foundation match for me – since I have a bit more color to my face than usual and wanted to try something with a bit more coverage as well.  They were, in fact, willing to do this for me.  I sat down and they applied some foundation to the bottom right side of my face – ONLY.  When I asked if they could finish this application, they again stated their $50 policy. Thanks anyway.  I won’t be back.  EVER.)

We went on.  Shopped around a bit…. contemplated getting Mackenzy’s ears pierced (decided against it), and strolled into the girls’ favorite store:  Family Pets.  After watching a hamster give birth, we made our way to the back of the store – where you can find the puppies for sale.  My girls fell in LUV with this one puppy and asked if they could hold it in the “petting cubicle”.  Knowing what a dog lover I am… and how easily my girls can talk me into something like this, I was a bit relieved  when the “sales” person came over to me and stated THEIR policy.  They only get out the puppies for people who are 1) in the market for a new dog and 2) are seriously considering purchasing one.

Let me get this straight, will ya?  You are Family Pets.  A pet store in the mall.  The success of your business (and its ability to continue to provide you with a paycheck) depends on one thing:  IMPULSE BUYS.  It depends on girls – just like mine – falling in love with a cute- as- a- button puppy and BEGGING parents like me to get it for them.  The TRUE sales people in  your store are the kids or girlfriends or whoever else is wanting the puppy – but not paying for it.  Because, let’s face it.  If I were TRULY, SERIOUSLY in the market for a new dog, I’d do a bit of research…. look in the paper and find one.  I would NOT stroll into Greenbrier Mall’s Family Pets, pick one based on their current selection, and cheerfully pay two or three times as much as I would from a private (and more reputable) breeder.

Again, this “sales” policy effectively eliminates the very engine that drives the impulse buys necessary to their success. Now, instead of looking into my daughters’ pleading eyes while they hover over an adorable puppy who NEEDS us to take her home, I can simply blame the mean- old- sales person for not letting us get her out in the first place, and as a result I can get out of the store much, much faster (buying less) and move on to a store that actually ENCOURAGES sales.  This, incidentally is exactly what we did.  Looking back, I guess I should thank Family Pets’ Sales Prohibition Department – not just for saving me a bunch of time, but also for  keeping me from making a rash, emotionally driven decision to actually purchase from them.  If this blog were a live tv interview, I am sure their “sales” person would start talking about how their new policy is based on what is good for pets… responsible pet ownership, etc.  Anyone who is truly a pet lover (as am I) knows better.

Merle Norman in Greenbrier Mall 757-382-9383

From there, I went to a store that (refreshingly) actually wanted sales – Merle Norman.  We walked in…. were greeted warmly and professionally.  I explained that we needed makeovers, which they were more than happy to provide.  As I walked away with my purchase, I asked my “sales person” a question – on a hunch:  “Do you own this store?” Yep.  She sure did, and she got it.  She wanted sales… and if there had ever been any idiotic sales policies or lazy sales people or sales prohibition departments in her store, they were effectively annihilated.  As a result, I bought from her and I will be back.  Many times – with friends and family.

NOW that I am done with my rant – which by the way has been sent to each mentioned store’s manager as well as Greenbrier mall – let’s see what we can learn…. What could these stores do differently?

  • MAC, MAC, MAC... you lost me and, truthfully, I’m gonna miss you.  Instead of eliminating sales presentations (i.e. make-overs)  of your product, why not HIGHLIGHT them…. offering them freely, encouraging appointments so your artists aren’t rushed and can do their very best job with each make-over, and keep some “real life” before-and-after shots for the rest of your customers to see?  Better yet, what about offering two “tiers” of make-overs:  a basic (maybe 10 minutes tops) for any passers-by who want to try your product and then a “celebrity” make-over  for your existing customers – like me.  If I were running your MAC counters, I would identify my top customers and invite them in for a COMPLIMENTARY “celebrity” make-over seasonally…. In other words, each time I rolled out a new color scheme, I’d send my top customers an invite to try it. I’d make my “celebrity” make-over a $35 purchase passers-by can buy, and give it to my loyal customers for free.  If these passers-by fall in love with what they see and buy an exorbitant amount of the product, I’d wave that $35 fee as an unannounced “gift” to them for being a NEW loyal customer.  When consumers are increasingly cautious about spending, none of us can afford to hold back on sales presentations.  After all, MAC, what are your artists DOING if they aren’t actively soliciting passers-by to come in and experience your products???  Are you OKAY paying them to turn away new customers …. and, worse, turning away loyal existing customers like me?  You – above any other make-up counter out there invest in truly training your sales people to be artists – which they are… It is what sets you apart in my mind from other options.  WHY won’t you continue to use this advantage as a sales strategy? Why turn buying into a mandated chore rather than a fun, impulsive experience?
  • FAMILY PETS – The irony of your “policy” made me laugh out loud.  Even my husband got the ironic (moronic?) nature of turning away kids who would BEG, PLEAD, GUILT and worse to secure a sale for you.  If I were managing your store, I would make it my MISSION to keep those “petting cubicles” filled – and your sales would go up exponentially as a result. I  personally guarantee it.    Would your “sales” people take out more dogs than they are now?  Yep.  No doubt they would complain about it.  And a lot of people would walk away without buying.  But your SALES would GO UP – as your sales “presentations” (i.e. hold this dog)  go up…. Seriously, when have you EVER sold a dog WITHOUT taking him or her out first?  Getting them out of that cage and into someone’s arms is THE KEY, THE COMMON DENOMINATOR of EVERY sale you make.  Why on earth would you make someone decide FIRST if they “really, truly” want a dog before allowing them to fall in love with one in your store?  Say what you will to the public or to PETA, but your business depends (almost exclusively) on impulse buys.  If I were running your store, I’d hold a contest among my employees. Who can show – outside of their miserable little cages – the most dogs or cats today? I’d let it be known that NO CHILD should have to ask to hold the pet they are going ga-ga over.  Instead, the “sales” associate should come over, and say, “WOW!  He is cute… You know, he is just 8 weeks old today…. you think it’d be okay with your parents if I let you hold him?”  Remember:  these little rug rats are your top sales team.  Engage them as such…
  • MERLE NORMAN – I am so glad to have met you… but I do wish you had given me your name….. a way for me to honor YOUR sales team in this post.  How did I know you were a business owner when we met?  Because you KNEW that sales was your job… and that sales for YOU (as for all of us) is built on service and experience.  (And, quite frankly…. very few “employees” get this…. they would rather make up and adhere to policies that prohibit sales – because it is easy, and because their pay is already guaranteed just for showing up!) So, my hats off to you.  You and I- and every Planet WOW! business owner reading this post across America (and beyond) – wake up every day knowing that we had BETTER have a system that encourages sales… Otherwise, we are at the mercy of our prospective customers system for NOT BUYING.  We’re unwilling to risk it.  CHEERS to you for representing our “breed” of forward-thinking entrepreneurs well.  I’m rooting for your success!! =)

** As a side note, I LOVED Merle Norman’s full coverage foundation – no need for concealer with this stuff … It really and truly covers everything – without feeling like a mask.**

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MOST small business owners think “Sales” and groan….. UGGGG…..  They talk about marketing as something that must be done, or can’t be avoided… “a necessary evil” they will say.   Because they eat what they kill, they MUST hunt.

But what if you actually enjoyed the hunt?  What if you developed, cultivated, and nurtured a passionate love affair – not just with the thought of sales and marketing, but with the implementation of it as well?  How would that change things for you?

HOW do you develop this passion for selling – and all that it entails?  You spend more time with it… you study it with an unquenchable curiosity…. you play with it… test its limits…

WHY would you want to do this?  Because it’d be an awful shame to try to build your business while HATING the very tasks and mindset responsible for its growth…. and because your income depends on it.

Now, let’s go out there and have one insanely profitable Thursday…shall we?  =)

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