Two furniture stores open up in a town on nearly the same day. One is totally tactical and the other is very strategic. If you go in to look at couches in store 1, the salesperson tries to sell you a couch. Tactical. Over a four-year period, this store grows at about 10 percent per year, mostly driven by the increasing costs of furniture.
In store 2, of course, they try to sell you a couch, but the management constantly trains the salespeople to sell the store. “First time in our store? Well, let me tell you about it.” And while the salespeople are on their way to the couches, they pitch the heck out of that store. They tell you about the history, the owner’s devotion to service, why they have lower prices than their competitors, how well trained they are on furniture construction, and how that benefits you as the consumer.
The purpose of this buyer education is to create brand loyalty. Over time, this store builds a large and loyal following of customers who automatically come there first when they are interested in any type of furniture. When you shop for furniture, you probably go to various stores with little or no brand loyalty. Or you may see a sale in the newspaper and go because of the sale. But if you had a relationship with a store that
stood behind its product like no other and could thoroughly explain the differences in furniture quality (there’s quite a bit to know) and even offered expertise in decorating, you might have an affinity, a loyalty, a preference for that particular store. When you needed furniture, you would go there first because of the relationship that is purposefully built with you. Buyer education paid off handsomely for one of our two new furniture stores. Over a four-year period, the tactical store remained a one-store location, while the strategic store opened six locations.
People will even pay more if they perceive there is a greater value or a deeper reason for buying from one provider over another. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve helped companies step up out of the commoditizing world in which they live by being more strategic.
If most of your buyers are not experts at what to look for in your product or service, this opens a gaping strategic opportunity for the brilliant strategist to capitalize on. I call this the science of setting the market’s buying criteria. Basically, it means that every buyer can be taught how to be a better buyer of your type of product or service. Using the example, the buyer calls in with loose or few buying criteria at all. The sales engineer then resets the buying criteria by educating that consumer about the EPA studies on the importance of their offer. You can do this for your company with profound results.
(The Ultimate Sales Machine, Chet Holmes)