How do you turn the job of selling into a successful service relationship? This question has become fundamental with the advent of digital, and is an invitation to take a much more critical look at the in-store customer experience. Supporting your sales force in this change implies re-examining the meaning of their job, and the way they do it and embody it every day. The following 5 questions may provide you with some guidance.
1- Is digital a threat to sales function?
Digital doesn’t mean immaterial. Leading digital brands like Apple have reinvented the customer relation model by making the Apple store a service venue. The customer meets a “Specialist” and not a salesperson. And when this specialist wears a digital tool around their neck which reads: “I can make the iPhone your iPhone,” it becomes clear that the purchase is merely the ultimate step in the promise of a service to “configure your iPhone as you like it,” before you even leave the store…
2- Should we be saying “sale” or “purchasing experience”?
The relationship has changed. There is nothing more ordinary than walking into a store. The supremacy of the omniscient salesperson, who knew lots of stuff that the customer didn’t, is well and truly a thing of the past. In a shop, the sales process is closely dependent on personal and physical considerations. We should therefore no longer speak of selling, but of “setting the stage for the purchase”. The sales assistant becomes a genuine coach who accompanies the customer in their experience and offers them interaction with the product that is pleasant, memorable and meaningful.
3- Does sales performance depend on sales scripts?
When Arnaud Deschamps, the managing director of Nespresso France, says, “We believe in individualised customer relationships that create value for our members and for the company,” it is obvious that the power of decision-making is today in the hands of customer-facing staff. At Nespresso, new recruits use scripts, but once they feel at ease and have acquired enough skills, they do without them. And why? Because customised advice and autonomy transferred to staff are key to sales performance.
4- How can I make my salespeople more agile in customer contact?
Stage managing points of sale also means stage managing customer relations. Your salespeople know better than anyone what customers need. Let them invent the experiences that will leave their mark on the customer tomorrow; invite them to identify the relational markers and the service attitudes which will help them to be more in phase with the customer and their project. And for those who are not that comfortable with this approach, training will help them to develop their people skills and gain self-confidence by enjoying practising the embodiment of these new brand markers.
5- Is the salesperson 2.0 a necessity?
“The salesperson 2.0 has clearly become an in-store experience facilitator connected with the customer at all times.” For this principle to become reality, it is essential that the salesperson be just as well-equipped with digital tools as the client with whom he is interacting, in equipment symmetry; if he is connected in real time to the brand’s various communication channels and online communities, he will be capable of providing an accurate, appropriate and coherent response, with real added value perceived by the customer. In this way the salesperson is no longer a salesperson, but a solution provider.