Sunday, 20 October 2013

Conditioning The Customer

Wouldn't it be exciting if every prospect that walked into your store or office had an indicator, say something like an LED lamp on their faces, showing how strongly interested they are in buying your product or services? I believe that you will agree with me, that in this way you will not wear yourself out trying to convince someone who has sworn never to patronize you; rather you will save your energies for the real customer. Unfortunately, prospects don’t come with LED indicators that make it easy to distinguish them, so a wise businessman needs to learn what to do so as to maximize the limited number of hours he has each day to make the sales.

Let’s acknowledge from the onset that everyone who comes into your store or office is a likely customer; if not on that day, maybe sometime in future, therefore they must all be treated with the same level of courtesy and professionalism. In addition, someone who never does business with you can send a lot of referrals your way who will make big-ticket purchases and they can also do a lot of damage, badmouthing your business if you treat them poorly.

Nonetheless, there are some walk-ins who have come to prospect for anything but your product or service; it could be for some business information (as I often do while researching material for my blog) or for a price survey (as some do before fixing the prices of their own products or services) and it could just be to feast the eyes (as some chronic window-shoppers do). People in these categories may likely never buy from you, even if you want to sell them your top-of-the-range products at giveaway prices. They are like the oranges on a tree that will never ripen for you to eat; being cordial with them is the best way to quickly send them on their way.

Aside from that group, it is safe to assume that the other prospects that walk through your doors are there for business. They are the ones I like to call, “Oranges at various stages of ripening”. But as they come into your store/office, they do with their unique combination of desire and capacity and both requirements must be at the optimum before any sale can be made. It is therefore the duty of a businessperson to learn how to optimize both the customer’s desire and find ways to enhance his capacity so as to remain competitive. Let me explain.

If a young man walks into the store and asks for a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt and dashes for the T-shirt racks like a puppy zeroing in on his milk bowl when you point them out to him, he is a prospect maxed out on the desire factor. After scaling that first hurdle, he then needs to fulfill the capacity requirement. He might have enough money to purchase the T-shirt and he might not; if it is the latter, no sale is recorded. Similarly, a foreigner who is preparing to return home and goes to the same store with a wallet bulging with a wad of notes, has the capacity to buy. But if he doesn't fancy any of the apparel in the store, no sale is recorded because he is wanting in the area of desire.

I was talking to the owner of a supermarket about how to optimize the customer’s desire and he said that a lot of planning goes into achieving it. Starting from the store layout, to the positioning of items on the shelves and the little things like lighting and sounds. He told me that a few droplets of water on some fruits can add a luscious look to them and be the determining factor on how quickly they will move.  And a school headmistress told me that she purposely schedules appointments with prospective families when the school is on lunch break; she then draws the blind so that they can see the pupils as they happily frolic on the playgrounds. She told me the school reported a high sign up rate since she included that single arrangement. You need to carefully consider how to max your customer desire. Your brochures, ambience, customer services and advertisements are some of the things to consider.

After addressing the desire requirement, we need to work on the capacity. We shall address that in the next post.

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