Giving in is easy, and here’s how the excuses show up:
You discover a salesperson whose first response to a customer’s question is no.
You listen to a manager saying my hands are tied.
You get on private retailer groups and bemoan problems most anyone could have if they really thought about it.
Or you want to write an invective note to a vendor for treating you poorly, reply to an online reviewer to justify yourself or torch your personal relationship with employees.
In short, you find a scapegoat to help you feel better about yourself.
It’s someone else’s fault, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I know; I’ve been there myself.
Hard times require strong leadership and digging in
When such moments happen to you, you need to realize you are facing a moment-of-truth choice.
You can either dig in and add something to fight your competition or settle back with excuses and distract yourself from changing anything.
When employees perform at minimal levels, they too have avoided trying to dig in and find a way to make a sale.
When you dig in as a salesperson in a retail store, you push past what might have happened previously with another customer and find a way to first say yes.
When you dig in and look at a vendor’s motivations for selling to one of your competitors, you realize it is just business and look for ways to become more valuable to them, not less.
When you dig in and build an ideal schedule and then creatively find ways to attract and pay the best, you realize what success will look like.
When you dig in and look at a bad online review, you push past the bad feelings and look for the nugget of truth to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
And if you see your numbers not stacking up like you hoped they would, you dig in and do the hard work to discover just what the customer experience is in your store.
Every day is a chance to move forward ...
... but only when you see the opportunities to create an exceptional experience and then work to make them a reality every day.
And this choice to make progress or make excuses isn’t just for retailers; sales reps often give excuses as to why their accounts won’t listen to them about changing their merchandising, marketing, or floorplans.
When you dig in as a sales representative, you look at each individual account to see what is keeping those retailers from taking your suggestions. From their viewpoint, you find a way to be a trusted advisor, not just a guy schlepping merchandise.
If you’re a sales rep, you’ll hear your dealers say they just want easy answers to getting more customers in their door. Or they are getting so many customers, people are leaving.
The place to dig in is by asking yourself why customers aren’t coming in the first place. Was it the experience or the dealer’s lack of marketing?
One of the challenges for independent retailers is being your own boss
You are the boss and you won’t fire yourself. That can make you sloppy.
At the corporate level, everyone from the CEO down lives with the threat of being fired and actively has someone over their shoulder to keep them digging in.
When the employee doesn't feel like digging in anymore or doesn’t seem curious to find answers, they’re gone.
Some retail dealers wait until customers have stopped coming before they dig in. It is too late by then.
With the pandemic easing and with the labor force slowly returning, hiring will be rocky in the coming months. But it's never is easy to run a business.
The reality for all of us is that you don't get creative when everything is fine, you get creative because everything isn't fine.
Big changes come in the little moments
When you walk in to see a cluttered store
When reading a review about your curt employee
When you discover your products at another store
When there is a crush of inquiries to your website and in-store
When your department’s numbers are down, your turnover is high, and your online marketing efforts aren’t working.
Don’t be complacent! Check yourself at that moment of truth when you should see change is needed.
At that nanosecond, explore the following:
"Could this be a time I need to look at my own part in what has happened? If so, is this the kick in the butt I need to focus my attention on doing better?"
"Am I holding on to a feeling of helplessness at changing the situation to feel better about myself? And if I am, what does that say about my own self-image?"
Sit with the feeling for a bit. No knee-jerk reactions. Just own it.
When you do that, those feelings can spur you to new ideas and plans. You’ll be able to see a rush of possibilities once the betrayal, anger, and, let’s be honest, fear, dissipate.
When the Why is big enough, the Hows show up
You ask yourself the right questions…
How can we develop a customer service process that makes customers rave?
How can we make everyone feel as if they are the most important person in the world for those few minutes of an interaction?
What type of retail sales training program should we use to train retail staff to sell?
If you truly are looking for how to grow retail sales, it’s at that moment you must make the critical choice and do the work of digging in.
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