February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Everyone wants to know who exactly are the millennials and what type of customers they represent.
Everything I read says they’re a new type of customer. They don’t want to be sold anything and are armed with the Internet and every device possible.
Social media has changed how customers get information and who they listen to. Our new customers have stopped listening to salespeople and are instead consulting online friends. What does that mean to RSAs? It means we belong online. Where do the RSAs fit? Their place is providing great customer service. The new consumers want service and they want it fast. They are willing to do all of the research and want us to help them make the right decision.
Social media is the place to build connections, but many stores use it to only show products. They need to have RSAs interacting with customers online. Facebook and LinkedIn are good places to start.
Millennials are comfortable with the online process and don’t mind doing their own research. When the customer comes into the store, RSAs should talk with her about what products she has found. Then they can help the customer make sure she has the right products. Instead of selling features and benefits, salespeople should be selling solutions, answering questions and demonstrating the value of the products.
I know what you’re thinking, “We already do that.” My experience tells me it isn’t true. RSAs are still spending inordinate amounts of time studying features and benefits of products and then telling the customer what to do. Of course they need to know these things but remember the customer has already searched the Internet for the right products. Features and benefits are worthless unless they provide an explanation to a customer’s concerns. The old adage still matters: They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Technology allows you to stop selling your customer and focus on the relationship. Does your website have products and ideas about color and design? Do you have a blog that provides useful information for your customer? Your blog can help her determine what to look for in a flooring store as well as how to find the salesperson. Communication used to be one-to-one but now it’s one-to-many. If you don’t have an online presence, you are likely to fade into the background behind your competitors. It’s impossible to talk about your competitors online; offline is the only place where you can show the customer you are better. The key is to get them into your store. Social media allows you to develop networks where you can share common interests with your potential customer. MeetUps are a wonderful way to build new customers and get closer to the ones you know.
Why don’t we understand customers come from building positive connections to other people? We can’t tell who is ready to buy, but we can get to know them before they buy and build communications. An online friendship is a great way to build trust, which is an essential factor in the buying process.
This new customer doesn’t need any selling; she needs experts who will help her make the right decisions. Customer service is more important today than ever.