4 Common Types of Retail Customers and How to Sell to Them

Types of customersIt's surprising to some people in customer service positions to discover that customers come into stores wanting more than just a good value. Customers also bring in emotional needs, which sales associates must fill in addition to finding customers the product they're seeking. Some customers come seeking a connection to others or an affirmation of their own values, while others need reassurance that they're making the right buying decision. Understanding customers' non-tangible needs when they enter a store is key to being a successful sales associate.

 

There are many different types of customers, and knowing the differences in their personality types can help sales associates in more ways than one. Knowing what various types of customers are looking for will help associates know how to sell to these various people, and it will also help associates avoid problems from customers who don't get what they want. Here are four of the most common personality types retail sales associates are likely to encounter:

 

1. The take-charge customer. This type of customer wants to make an informed decision in the least possible amount of time. They will ask direct questions and want short and to-the-point answers. They will often interrupt sales associates who takes too long to get to the point, and always feel that they know best. It's best not to give this sort of customer too many options — if they come into the store seeking something specific but are trying to decide between two or three options, do not guide them to a fourth option unless it's obviously superior to the others, or they will get frustrated. These customers want confirmed what they already know, so often they've already made a decision before entering the store, and merely want the sales associate to confirm they're doing the right thing.

 

2. The deal-seeker. This type of customer always wants to feel like they've gotten the best possible deal — much better than most other shoppers. These customers appear when you have big sales or clearance events, and will try to talk you down on the price if there's any room for negotiation. The way to make a sale to these customers is by making sure they feel like they're getting away with an incredible deal. You can often increase sales by showing customers how buying an additional product will get them a better deal on their current purchases.

 

3. The sociable type. This type of customer wants to talk and tell stories, often unrelated to the products. They may ask the same question several times and not focus for long on the task of choosing a product, as they often have a hard time listening, but enjoy talking. Let these buyers talk as they need to unless you have other customers waiting, and if you do need to interrupt a story to help someone else, be polite when you do so. Given affirmation and signs of interest in what the customer has to say — remember that genuine interest is always better than feigned.

 

4. The emotional-connection buyer. This sort of customer wants to make an interpersonal connection to sales associates. They will not buy from sales associates they don't like, even if the product is what they're looking for. This type of customer is similar to the sociable type in needing to connect with the sales associate, but is much more reserved than the sociable customers, often preferring to listen and ask questions rather than talk. They need to feel like they have something in common with the sales associate, so when associates sense they have an emotional-connection buyer on their hands, they should try to find similarities between themselves and the buyer. For example, they might say, “I see you're wearing a shirt from X university. My sister went there too. Did you go there?” or “I own those same shoes!” (Note: don't lie to force an emotional connection where there is none. This always backfires.)

About the Author:
Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Outbounding.com. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. Her hobbies include kayaking, watercolor, and doing marketing work for www.retailpackaging.com.

Unified Branding Across All your Online Marketing Efforts

Branding is more than just a buzzword. Branding is the way by which you can communicate your story, your mission, and your company’s products and services to the public quickly and easily. Most companies engage in branding even though they may not know that’s what they are doing, and they've been doing so for years, long before the term became popular. What is branding, though? Is it going to be difficult to get your site and your company branded?

Make Branding Simple

While it can take some time, and it does take some effort, it doesn't have to be extraordinarily difficult to brand your company. First, you need to consider the visual components. Try to have the same colors and fonts across the board. The colors and the logo that you have on your official website should be the same that you have on your blog. You want people who go from one resource to the other to know instantly that they are on your site.

Apart from the visuals, you have to be able to convey your mission, and your company story on your site. This becomes a part of the overall personality of your brand, just as the content on your site does. This means that it is important that you have a cohesive brand and that anyone who does writing or development for you knows that brand in order to match the tone. A company that sells medical supplies is going to have a far different look, story, and tone from a company selling gag gifts.

Advertisements

When you are crafting advertisements for your online marketing, you also have to think about your branding. If there are going to be any visual graphics to the ad, remember to utilize your company’s colors and logo. If it is merely a written ad, then you still want to try to convey your brand in as little space as possible. For example, if a part of your store is that you've been in business since 1988, you could include that somehow in the text of the advertisement. Find a way to add a bit of your company’s personality to the text.

Social Media Outlets

All companies are starting to use the social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook today. If you are going to use those networks, then you want to bring your brand along with you as much as you can. While you aren’t going to be able to match all of the colors that you have on your site due to the way that the social networks work, you can still do your part in branding. With the content that you provide and the photos you have for your site or even your background on Twitter, you can make the page your own. Take the time to look at the sites of some other companies to get an idea of what you might be able to do.

Consider all of the different types of online marketing that you do. Perhaps you create PDF e-books as giveaways for your clients. Make the look and the tone match your site’s brand. The same is true of your emails, your newsletters, and any other interactions that you have with your clients and customers on the web.

Branding Really Can Make a Difference for Online Marketing

When you have a unified brand, it is going to start to breed recognition. People are going to start to know your company the more they see it. With a quality brand and great products, you are well on your way to succeeding and growing your company.

4 Small Business Debt Hurdles and How to Overcome Them

overcoming small business debt

All businesses deal with a certain level of adversity starting out, which is why it is so important to have a solid plan. However, while hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is always recommended, you can’t help but feel trapped once you've made a few crucial mistakes and are being confronted by a seemingly insurmountable mountain of business debt. Whether you’re in the process of founding a new company or have already traveled down the wrong path with your small business, you may want to learn how to recognize and overcome the following four debt hurdles:

Overwhelming Commitments

Between credit cards, startup loans, and monthly bills it can be easy to overwhelm yourself unexpectedly. One moment things are going fine and the next you’re up to your neck in expenses that seem to double every time you turn around. If you’re monthly obligations consume more than 50% of your company’s profit you need to:

  • Use debt consolidation loans and balance transfer cards to centralize payments and simplify management
  • Use cash, check, or debit as your payment methods from now on, except in emergency situations
  • Sell some of your assets to repay debt all at once and build back up from there
  • Engage in independent negotiations with your creditors or utilize a professionally drafted  company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to create a revised payment plan
  • Cancel all non-crucial subscriptions and services
  • Reduce overhead and payroll expenses

Even if your company is profitable at the moment, if you allow debt to consume more than half of the annual profit you’re asking for trouble, which is why it is imperative to take the above steps as soon as possible.

Inability to Obtain Additional Financing

What if you’re company’s credit is horrible and you can’t get any financial assistance to help you deal with the rising operating costs? The good news is you still have a few options:

  • Look into secured loans. Be aware that you will have to use some of the company’s assets as collateral, which means they can be seized if you default on the loan.
  • Find out whether you’re eligible for small business grants.
  • Get a copy of your business credit report and create a debt reduction plan to begin the process of repairing the company’s credit rating.

Prioritization Problems

So you've got a bunch of debts and don’t have enough money to keep up with them all. How do you decide which ones to repay first? Here are few tips to help you out:

  • Always repay secured debts first, as defaulting on these could result in the loss of property.
  • Try to eliminate small debts before tackling larger debts. This way, when you start repaying the larger debts the smaller ones won’t be able to grow in the background and sneak up on you. Eliminating several smaller debts quickly will also give you a greater sense of progress than eliminating one large debt over a longer time period.
  • In dire situations, seek the advice of a debt counselor.

Restricted Cash Flow

With all of this repaying going on how can you find the funds to promote progress and increase outreach? After all, you don’t want your business to become stagnant while it operates for no other purpose than to repay its creditors. So what do you do?

Remember you’re already in debt, so being in debt little bit longer isn’t going to hurt as much as missing out on profitable opportunities. Promoting the success of your company should be your highest priority, not devoting all available resources to creditors. With that said, set aside a certain percentage each month for advertising and marketing budget; anything that is left over after that can go towards repayments.

Jonathon Madison is an experienced finance blogger that specializes in small business management. He’s had the privilege of learning from some of the industry’s top debt firms, including TDS (Trust Deed Scotland).

Small Business Toolbox – October Twenty Seven

By: Cat

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Wufoo – Build great looking contact forms for free using Wufoo.  Works across any web platform and integrates nicely with many 3rd party applications.  Free and paid plans available.

Photopin – Finding quality royalty images for your blog or website can be a pain in the butt, and take be quite time consuming.  Photo Pin is an easy to use image search tool that lets you find free to use creative commons images for your website.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

WordPress Weekly Roundup

This week in the WordPress Roundup……..

 

What To Do When You Are Locked Out of WordPress Admin (wp-admin)

If you've ever gone to login to your WordPress powered site and saw the white screen of death or similar error, you know what a stomach dropping experience that can be.  Check out this list of causes for you login troubles and how to fix each one.

What You Should Put In Your WordPress Blog’s Sidebar

Most WordPress sites have a sidebar on them.  Some sites do a great job with their sidebar, others turn it into a junkyard of nonsense that offers little value to the reader.  Check out these tips on how to make the most of your sidebar.

Enable Google Analytics for Your WordPress Site with Dashboard Statistics

While the standard Jetpack plugin stats counter offers an easy view of your visitor stats, it fails in comparison to the depth you can reach with Google Analytics.  Check out this article on how to enable Google Analytics in your WordPress dashboard.

Create a Free Restaurant Website with WordPress and HappyTables

If you're a restaurant or maybe even a food truck, check out this article on how to turn your WordPress website into a powerhouse restaurant website using Happy Tables.

What is the Best Permalinks Structure for WordPress?

Though the latest versions on WordPress have made creating custom permalinks alot easier, many people are still a little confused as to which structure they should use.  Both from an SEO and a user standpoint.  Check out this article for suggestions on what type might be best for your website.

11 Must Have Free WordPress Plugins For Every WordPress Installation

Check out these 11 plugins that every WordPress user should consider.  While each of these plugins have some perfectly good alternatives, you can't really go wrong if you stick with these choices.

Add Charts and Diagrams to Your WordPress Posts and Pages with Easy Chart Builder

If you've ever wanted to add custom tables or charts (or anything custom for that matter) to a WordPress, you know that WP can be a pain (and often maddening) at times.  Check out this plugin that lets you insert charts into your posts and pages without driving you crazy.
If you want to find even more great WordPress resources, follow us on Twitter!

Have a question about what plugin or theme you should use for your website?  Ask and you shall receive an answer!

 

 

Influencing the Yes: How to Make an Impact With a Pitch

This is a guest post by Charles Voloshin, Digital Strategist, Swell Path. Find out at the end of this post how your business could win $100k in marketing services.

One of the most vital components of business development for any business is delivering a great new business pitch and the best pitches always make “Impact.” No matter if you’re pitching a Fortune 500 company, your own executive team, or a room of investors, any great pitch needs to leave a big, favorable impression on the audience. Be sure they’re nodding their heads “yes” after you leave the room, and solidify your place on the short list. Answer these 5 questions before your pitch to effect a positive impact on your audience:

Jumpstart marketing promo

1) Who’s listening and what matters most to them?

Know who’s in the room. Individuals in your audience will always have unique concerns or pain points they want addressed. A CEO wants to know about the bottom line; The CFO cares about cost; The investor is looking at growth potential, and so on. Address these concerns during the pitch—before they ask a question—and you will make a definitive impact, and guarantee your place in the finals.

2) Are you excited and passionate about your pitch?

If you’re not letting your audience know through voice and body movements that what you have to say is exciting and great, they’ll get bored and lose interest. You must believe in your pitch with your heart and soul, and prove it in your delivery.

3) Have you practiced?

Speaking in front of a group is nerve-racking for most people, especially when trying to convince someone to take action. The reason the pros make it look easy is preparation. They've prepared themselves by rehearsing and practicing their pitch many, many times. A good rule of thumb: If you haven’t said it 10 times in front of the mirror yet, then you're not even close to being rehearsed.

4) Is your pitch personal?

Get a leg up by doing your research. Learn the names, education and professional background of everyone in the room. If you connect with your audience in a personal way during your pitch, you’re guaranteed to stand out in a positive light after you've left the room.

5) Are you pitching what they want or asked for?

This is similar to question 1, but is more about what solution or idea you’re trying to pitch. An old cliché sales phrase about selling ice to Eskimos comes to mind. While you might have the best idea or product, if your audience can’t relate, you’re wasting not only your time, but that of your audience. No amount of preparation, passion or practice is going to convince a drowning man he needs water.

Preparing your pitch with answers to the questions above requires a good amount of time and effort. Want to win that new client, investment or initiative? Plan ahead and put in the time, and your pitches will consistently make an impact.

 

What are some of the ways that you have made an impact with a new business pitch?

Impact is just one component of a successful pitch, this post was written as part of the Blue Collar Jumpstart Initiative, a campaign to award $100,000 in marketing services to an emerging company who demonstrates the greatest need for a marketing Jumpstart by delivering the best pitch. Want to know all the components that make up a great business pitch? Take a look at this infographic to give you a “Look Under the Hood of a Great Pitch.”

Great marketing pitch infographic

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to submit their best pitch to JumpStart by this Friday, October 26, 2012, for a chance to win $100,000 in agency services. Visit JumpStart to learn more and submit a pitch: http://www.bluecollaragency.com/jumpstart

 

 

Small Business Toolbox – October Twenty First

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Get Clicky – While Google Analytics is my go to analytics tool, Get Clicky is a close second.  Get Clicky's real time analytics is a great tool for seeing what's happening on your site right now, as opposed to the time lag Google Analytics has for its reporting.  Get Clicky has a free and paid plan available.

SlashCV – If you're re-entering the job market or just graduating from school, SlashCV lets you a great looking resume.  Lets you create, share and create PDF versions of your resume  using a simple interface.  This is still in Beta but still works really well.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Eight Essential Cloud Services for Small Business

Paper airplanesIt was only a few years ago that setting up an office meant either buying expensive software licenses for proprietary applications or doing all your administration in the old-fashioned way with huge amounts of paperwork to be processed and stored. The advent of Web 2.0, cloud computing, or SaaS (software as a service) brought a host of low-cost solutions that small businesses and start-ups can deploy to minimize their upfront investment in both personnel and infrastructure. We're going to take a look at industry-leading services in each of eight essential aspects of business: accounting, invoicing, customer relationship management, productivity and storage, backup, email and SMS marketing, and postage.

Accounting – Wave Accounting

Accounting is one of the most daunting tasks facing new businesses. Wave Accounting is a free service that aims to be for small businesses what mint.com is for personal finance. It offers a comprehensive range of features to ease the burden of keeping track of money, including bank account integration (no manual data entry), double entry accounting, expenses tracking, automatic backup, invoices with customization, bill and invoice reminders, and integration with Wave Payroll.

Invoicing – Freshbooks

Wave Accounting includes the ability to create invoices, but should you decide you need a stand-alone invoicing service, Freshbooks is among the best, and considerably easier to use and more feature-rich than PayPal's invoicing service. Freshbooks is capable of both time- and item-based invoicing, expenses tracking, and simple project management. Invoices can be sent both by email and by post. The service is free for businesses with fewer than 3 clients and as little as $19.95 per month for up to 25 clients.

Customer Relationship Management – Highrise

Keeping track of customers can be a pain, but Highrise, from the design whizz kids at 37signals, is a breeze to use. It allows businesses to track their interactions with customers, keep notes of those interactions, assign tasks, and it integrates well with email. All within a slick and easy-to-use interface.

Productivity – Google Drive

Google Drive was previously known as Google Documents, and includes file storage, word processing, a spreadsheet application, presentations, and a very useful Forms application. It integrates well with other Google services, like Google Mail.

Backup – Carbonite

This is an area where many new businesses are somewhat lax. All the services we mention here are secure and will back up data, but having a single point of failure for a business's data is always a mistake. Carbonite is an inexpensive backup solution that is very easy to use. Once set up it will automatically upload data to the cloud. Business accounts can back up data from an unlimited number of computers from $229 per year.

Email Marketing – MailChimp

MailChimp is an extremely popular email marketing services, which allows users to easily create email lists and distribute newsletters. It has great social media integration and analytics, as well as autoresponders and RSS-to-email capabilities so that when a business blog is updated, emails are automatically sent out.

SMS Marketing – SimpleTexting

Used properly, SMS marketing is a great way to garner customer engagement for a small business. SimpleTexting offers autoresponders, scheduled texts, image attachments, easy number and contact importing, and threaded two-way conversations.

Postage – Stamps.com

No one likes having to trek to the Post Office at the end of the day to send out their mail, or deal with ensuring that they have the correct number of stamps on parcels. Stamps.com is a very cool services that allows businesses to buy and print their own USPS postage via an online account. Businesses can print postage onto envelopes and shipping labels with addresses. Because using the service reduces post office overheads, users get a significant discount on postage compared to postage machines. Mail pickups can be arranged to suit businesses.

The software as a service market is booming, and there are many new services being introduced all the time. If you have a favorite that we haven't mentioned, feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below.

About Robyn Warner:   Robyn works at Ink Technologies, and has been writing since she learned how to hold a pen.  Check out more of her posts on printing on Ink Technologies' blog on ink and printing, or subscribe to her updates on Twitter (@InkTechnologies) and Facebook.

Image credit: josemanuelerre

Small Business Toolbox – October Thirteen

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Slide Klowd – Connect your presentation in a social way.  SlideKlowd let's you connect your presentations to your audiences devices to create better engagement with your audience, manage attendance, and get valuable feedback on your presentation.  Great for in person presentations and training events.

Quote Base – Create beautiful, custom branded price quotes for your customers with this free tool.  Easy to use and let's create PDF versions or digital versions of your quotes.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Is Your Business Plan A Roadmap Or A Historical Document?

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face ~ Old Boxing Quote

Business planning is essential

Is the business plan you created before you started your business something you constantly refer to, or like most people, is it something you get a good chuckle from every now and again when you're cleaning out your filing cabinet.

A good business plan should serve as a roadmap for your business, but most of the time it becomes a (sometimes sad) reminder of the never ending optimism we once had for our business.

Why do business plans often become useless?  For one, when they are created, they are “guesstimates” on what we think (or hope) our business will become one day.  Many times those original plans aren't even close to what happens once the business is actually launched.  The second, is that the plan is never updated or revised to reflect reality, thus becoming useless.

Why should we create a business plan?

I'm a firm believer in that the process of creating a business plan is much more important than the actual plan itself.  Going through the process of creating a business plan allows you to ask yourself some hard questions and do some critical thinking that you may not have done otherwise.  Poor planning often leads to poor results.

The second reason is that if you will be seeking any kind of formal financing for your business, a business plan is a prerequisite.

Creating a plan you know won't work

In the military, Generals spend months or years planning a mission, devising strategies, tactics and envisioning every possible scenario they can conceive of.  They do all of this knowing that once the mission actually begins, all of those plans will most likely go out the window and they will have to create totally new plans on the fly.

Why would they do this?

Because the planning process itself helps you to develop a deeper understanding of the situation and helps prepare you to make future decisions.  Without all of those months planning, those generals would most likely make poor decisions once the battle has started and the pressure is on.  It's all in the preparation, not the plan iteself.

A business plan cannot be too rigid

Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind. ~Bruce Lee

If you create an overly detailed plan, and you're not ready to revise or scrap it if needed, you're setting yourself up for failure. At least as far as business plans go.  A plan only works if you go into it knowing that you're going to have to change it, alot.  If you don't update your business plan as the gap widens between your plan and reality, it will quickly become useless and you'll abandon it.  Create your business plan knowing you'll be doing alot of editing and re-forecasting as time goes on.  Don't stash a printed copy of it away in your filing cabinet, keep an online copy of it on your desktop, ready to review and edit it as often as needed.

How do you know your business plan is useless?

If your in business and you haven't looked at it in several months, it's safe to say it's useless.

Create 2 business plans

You should have 2 business plans created.  One for the bank and one for yourself.  The plan you create for the bank (or other investor) will look like a mini-novel, full of financial projections looking 5 years into the future and a (very) creative story on how you intend to turn your soon to be business into a Beast by capturing X% of the market place in your industry over the next 5 years.

The other plan is a 1-2 page document that is just for you.  It's not a 5 year growth plan or an overly optimistic projection on what you hope will happen.  It's an honest conversation with yourself. It's going to make you answer some simple questions and do some simple math.  If it doesn't make sense, go back and think things through again.  Once this plan is in place and you start implementing the steps, you can add more detail as time goes on.

What – What am I offering

Why – Why am I doing this, what value am I bringing to others

Who – Who am I offering this to

How – How will I get what i'm offering to my customers.

How Much – How much will I charge.

Math – After all of my costs to get a product to a customer, what is left over for me

Steps – What I steps I will need to take to make this happen.

Some good advice that I received once was to cut your projected revenue in half and increase your expenses by a quarter, and then see if the plan still makes sense.  This doesn't mean to scrap the plan, it's just a reality check.

Don't be a professional planner

Well done is better than well said ~ Ben Franklin

Planning is great, it's a must actually.  Just don't get so lost in the process of planning that it keeps you from actually implementing your plan.  Create your plan knowing it will change, be honest with yourself, and keep your plan in front of you so you can review/change it often.

Did you create a business plan for your business?  I'd love to hear what you think about business plans, leave a comment below.