Sell the Store, Not the Chair
As with all technology, there are positives and negatives. This is evident with the web as a new marketing source. Most products are becoming a fast commodity, even if they were not before. If you are interested in buying a chair, you can quickly search on Google, eBay, or any other major search engine, and you will instantly find all chairs of the kind that you are looking for. You will also know the appropriate price of that style of chair, give or take a few dollars.
This wonderful technology makes it much more difficult for a furniture store to compete in the marketplace. The chair may be selling for much less on the net, because the furniture store has a great deal more overhead to run the business.
In order to overcome the problem of being technologically put out of business, the furniture store will have to start selling the benefits of dealing with the store more than the benefits of buying the individual chair.
Imagine two sales clerks who are approached by a prospect looking for a new chair. Sales clerk number one takes the prospect over to the chair that they are interested in and begins to describe the chair and the price. Armed with information from the web, the prospect knows the prices that are available around the country as well as all the details about the chair. The salesman is in the difficult position of having to either match the online price or lose the sale.
Instead of spending time discussing the chair, salesman two discusses the store. The salesman describes the history of the store, the customer service philosophy of the owners, and how the store stands behind its product. When the prospect and salesman arrive at the demonstration of the chair, the customer now has additional factors to consider when comparing the e-store with the furniture store. For example, the prospect also considers the possibility of effortless returns or exchanges if problems develop after the customer takes the chair home.
The purpose of teaching the salesman to spend extra time with a customer to discuss the store’s long-term relationships with customers is to attempt to educate the buyer and create brand loyalty. Over time, brand loyalty and the desire to work with a store that stands behind their product can overcome many objections, including pricing. Price is always an important element, but in most cases and particularly over time, brand loyalty to a local store is stronger. The key is to make sure that the sale is made based on the store benefits and not the chair.