I was in Chicago last week with one of my longest standing and favorite clients, Walter E. Smithe Furnishings and Design. In addition to great retail products and design at great prices, they dominate a major city and attract a variety of retail clients with their (dare I say) adorable 3 brother advertising and more than a dozen stores in all the right places around Chicagoland.
The purpose of my visit was to spend 2 days with designers with my “Building Your Business” seminar. Since they are so open and coachable, yes – even the veterans – it became clear to me that our time would be best spent on some of the fundamentals of referrals and completing the sale rather than on more sophisticated means of marketing.
Here’s what we identified as the 4 essential actions to complete the sale (especially in a showroom, but just as important for independent designers) and to move to the next level of sales and service:
1. Give 2 cards away….always.
At point of sale or in a crowded room, always give 2 business cards with this request (well, actually, more like a loving command). “Here are 2 cards – one for you to keep and one for you to give away. Thank you for doing that.”
2. Send a thank you note within 24 hours of the sale / order.
No matter what – your age, your personal communication preference, your poor handwriting – every sale gets a thank you note. And the note is to express 3 things: appreciation for their business, to reinforce their decision, and to prepare them for your follow up telephone call. Here’s what it looks like:
“Dear (their name),
Thank you so much for the (purchase of your xxx). I am sure it will (compliment them here to make them feel confident of their decision). I look forward to speaking with you after delivery/installation.”
That’s it. Simple. And NO business card in the thank you note….see #1 and #4.
3. Call after delivery or installation.
They expect to hear from you, since you told them in your thank you note you would call. Be sure the delivery went well before you pick up the phone and take a look at your notes about this client. This is a SALES call you are making, not a service call. Given that, be prepared to ASK:
a. How does it look?
b. What’s missing?
c. What’s next?
4. Send a letter asking for referral
The objectives of this letter are to connect and communicate how much you liked working with them, and to ask for a referral. In this letter you can include 2 business cards – and you might write their name on the back of the card just in case they forget to tell you when you meet them. Keep it simple. Send it 30 days after their last installation. Be prepared to call them a week or so after the letter was sent to see if they received it and who they might know.
In the age of technology and social media networking, we miss the simple human engagements that are made by hand, of hands touching, of hearts and minds opening that only a real, authentic, personal connection can create. We cannot replace a touch with a text so let’s do the simple stuff first to complete each sale and to set the foundation for the next one.
Until next time….