By Mr Retail
For almost three years now, our sales departments have lived a different life. With the pandemic, everything from floor traffic, phone calls, emails, and other forms of client interaction skyrocketed. For the majority of us, things have normalized back to 2019 levels (or below). If you worked the sales floor during the pandemic, you developed a mentality that this rapid fire amount of client interaction was normal– it didn’t go on for a couple months, but rather, a couple years. So, what does that mean to us now?
I know for my staff and myself, we got accustomed to this level of client interaction. Some of the staff was hired during the pandemic, so they have zero idea of what it was like back in 2019. It is leading to a whole range of emotions now the pace has dropped, from the sky is falling, to boredom, to thinking the industry is in trouble, and so on. If you could put yourself in the shoes of these folks, it is easy to see where this thinking comes from. Add to this the fact that clients are more challenging than ever before, and we have a concern that needs to be addressed.
Before the pandemic, a large sale might take 60 to 90 minutes of work, with some amount of follow up. Contrast that to during the pandemic, when the client would hand us a credit card after 15 minutes.
Prior to 2020, a client may have had a dialogue that included an initial conversation followed by an in-person meeting and then potentially several follow up emails and/or phone calls. All of this was a normal occurrence for someone spending $3-6K on an audio upgrade. Sometimes the customer asked for outside-the-box requests that stretched out the sales process even more, requests that we would have instantly shot down a year ago, because we simply didn’t have time.
My suggestion is to get back to the basics with your whole sales team. If they have been around awhile, remind them of how it used to be. If they are new, you will likely have to retrain them in the “normal” sales strategy that requires an investment of time. This includes looking at every opportunity with each client, add-on selling, following up in predetermined lengths of time with clients that didn’t instantly buy. Add to that, developing a list of things your clients expressed interest in, but didn’t buy at the moment, and then following up at proper intervals. This last paragraph might sound like an old record to some of you because it is selling 101, but a lot of it wasn’t needed for over two years, as quite simply, we couldn’t keep up. So things slipped through the cracks.
In my store, we are spending time working through these processes AND most importantly, letting salespeople know that the foot traffic may not be the same, but it only takes one client to make up for a day or two of standing around. So the floor may be quiet for even a few days at a time, and then one large job can make up for it. That’s the way the floor goes at times these days. Expect this to be normal and all will be okay.
And, I can’t stress this enough, cut your staff some slack.
We all know what it is like out there in the talent pool –finding good employees is not easy– so be patient and encouraging and hope for the best.
About Mr Retail
Mr Retail offers opinions and information on car audio retailing for CEoutlook. He wishes to remain anonymous. He has owned a retail store in this country for over 20 years now. Mr Retail loves what he does and loves the 12 volt industry and is happy to share his hard won expertise.