Tag Archives: sales

Why can’t a woman be more like a man? Selling to women.

Women influence 80% of household spending. That was the stat that grabbed me this week and I can’t let it go.

As a professional woman who often finds herself selling to other women, this is something I need to think long and hard about and maybe you do too?

When it comes to pinning this down to specifics I can’t help but recall the appalling sales experience I had as a consumer at the hands of an all-male kitchen company, which I wrote about here.

If only they hadn’t treated me like a poor relation, patronized me, tried to get away with bad follow up care, and generally underestimated the power of my word of mouth!

So here you have it…

When selling to women, treat them as you want to be treated. Here are some of the ways…

  1. We are all people – never talk down to anyone, even if you don’t think they have purchasing  power.
  2. Create relationships not sales – the sales will follow. Go for the long term because women will revisit websites or come into the sales room over and over again if they need to, before making a decision.
  3. Remember that this woman in front of you will talk to her friends about her experience with you. If it is bad she will tell more people and probably put something up on social media, so don’t say anything you don’t want repeated back. (Remember the guy who told me that I wasn’t spending enough to give him a decent profit margin?)
  4. Do you present as trustworthy? Women hate shifty and are really not impressed by flash.
  5. Trying to sell a kitchen like it’s a car is not going to work. I am a strong professional woman but I still care a hell of a lot what colour my units are. Ask your customer what she needs, what she wants and what she is not prepared to compromise on.
  6. Return all communication promptly – even if I am not buying today I might have a meeting with someone later in the day who is.
  7. Don’t treat women like a mark – we can smell “I’m going to close you before you leave the door” a mile off. Most women who work in sales have probably had the same training. They can see the “tactic” and will write you off.
  8. Women like the way a good purchase feels –so make it feel good – we’re looking for a combination of  fine quality, good value and a great deal.

So whether you are a woman buying from a man, a man selling to a woman or a woman selling to other women – what more do you have to add ?

Five examples of bad customer service

You don’t need a PhD in marketing to know that good customer service is essential. If people have got as far as handing over money in response to your offer then they should be made to feel as good about it as possible.

So why is it that on at least five occasions in the last month I have been left feeling like a dupe?

Here are 5 real life examples of bad customer service as experienced by me.

  1. First up the AA breakdown service. As I stood by the side of the M1 motorway with my entire family wrapped in blankets the telephone operator attempted to locate me. ‘So you’re on the M1, is that clockwise or anti clockwise?’ My problem? Ignorance. The M1 is the UK’s oldest north/south motorway. Upshot ? She sent the truck to the wrong place.
  2. In at number 2, Strada Pizza. They refused to take a two for one voucher at a restaurant in Center Parcs despite there being nothing on the voucher to say that this offer was restricted. When I wrote to their head office to complain I do not get a reply. Result? A very unhappy customer who has not been heard.
  3. Daniels Department store. In their favour I will say straight up that they did give me my money back. Thank you. However, the assistant argued with me for a long, long time about it. I was returning a £6 toy which was badly made and didn’t really work. They argued that this was simply how they were made and so it was my choice/my loss. Result? I decided to go to John Lewis next time because they are always nice to me when I take things back. (Note to self; fighting with  shop assistants is a skill. I think I did ok.)
  4. Tenpin Bowling. Booking an hours bowling with my family should be simple. It’s not. They have a website which I found personally to be so twistedly unusable that I was actually crying when I came off. I circled one particular task 3 times before getting it right. Despite the fact that it kept telling me that I was going to be saving money by booking online I felt that I was being offered no discount when then the final total came up and I had been made to do all the work. Complain? You can call our 10p a minute phone line. No thanks. So now they think I am a satisfied customer. I am not.
  5. Opticians Dollond and Aitchison. I once took my youngest daughter to get her eyes checked. She was  fine. We used D and A because they have a reputation for quality service and the service was indeed good. But for several years now they have been mailing me letters telling me that I must bring my daughter in for a check up. The more I do nothing the more irritating letters I seem to get. The message behind these mail shots is that by ignoring them I am risking my daughter’s health. I resent the suggestion. It may only be perceived on my part but it’s enough for me to know I won’t use them again. A friend has had exactly the same experience so, don’t do it D and A, you are losing customers.

Listening to customers is one of the most valuable things a business can do. For all I know every one of the companies above thinks they are doing a really great job. It is up to us to tell them that they are not.

Thanks for reading. If you found this content useful I would love to work on blog posts with you. Sharing useful content is one of the best ways to improve your customers’ experience. Together we could get your message out there. I use twitter and other social media to drasticaly improve your bottom line. One client has reported orders up 50% on last year since we started working together.

Click over to the About Me page or mail me Lucy.Thorpe@btconnect.com to find out more.

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Tips for Cleaner Writing

Why You Need The Social Media Shield

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Boot into Boden ? Not today.

My friend Jane wants me to stick the boot into Boden after getting a glossy catalogue in the post full of tropical swim-wear. It’s the middle of winter for hell’s sake ! Porn for the polenta classes ? You bet.

But at least they ‘re honest about it. They just want to sell us clothes while we’re stuck indoors dreaming of summer.

And boy do they want to sell us clothes. They have one of the most persistent marketing strategies I have seen outside Pizza delivery firms, hitting you several times at key points during the season until you have a stack of catalogue, each subtly different.

The one that comes out in the bleak midwinter tactfully puts its flimsy dresses towards the back and pushes the cardies up front. Later on we get a few new headline items and a re-jig of the clothes. That can’t actually cost them that much as the clothes appear to be shot in one batch, sometime last year.

Considering how annoying over-persistent campaigning can be, this is remarkably effective. Boden has become a by-word for middle class style (smugness if you’re feeling satirical) with annual profits of 22 million pounds. Michelle Obama is a fan. Hell I have been known to make the odd purchase although it makes me feel too much like a yummy mummy for comfort.

So, I won’t be sticking the boot in today. Instead I will be observing that shouting about what you do on a regular basis, mixing it up a bit to keep it fresh but essentially delivering what your customers want, seems to be a   recipe for success.

Respect the customer, lessons from the heavy sell.

So, anyway. I’ve started this great new hobby. I sing in a choir !

I know it sounds like I’ve turned into my mother but it is actually really cool. We sing gospel and Motown type stuff and once you stop feeling stupid it is very therapeutic. We ‘ooooohh’ and ‘ahhhhhhh’ as if we were member of the Supremes without the spangly dresses. A girl can dream.

If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this with you it’s because it is also a successful business.  It’s a smart idea and the choirs are spreading. I should imagine that the copyright on the songs and arrangements is the biggest cost and once that is sorted, the more choirs you have the more income you can generate.

But even though I love it and admire the business model I have a problem.

Over-selling.

As a member I am being asked to attend public events, which can only amount to free publicity for the brand, purchase branded clothing and listen to quite a lot of ‘heavy sell’.  When a lot of people are handing over cash for an experience like this it would be better to take a slightly lighter approach and at least give members the illusion that they have a stake in it. If you take your customers for granted then they may vote with their feet.

I am signed up for another term,  so I’m prepared to go with the flow for the moment.  But never under-estimate the consumer, we need to be treated with respect.

How not to sell on twitter.

Since I began my adventures in social media I can’t tell you how many times I have been disappointed by the hard sell.

I don’t know why I expected to find the cyber world free of shysters. How very naive, the salesman is everywhere !  But I couldn’t resist the idea of a new media full of people helping each other. I  love a utopia.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people out there who see Twitter as a genuine way to share information. They will go out of their way to help people, recommend you and pass on interesting links, some even do it for entirely altruistic reasons. And then there are the ones who SPAM you constantly and send out the same Twitter advert every half an hour until you vote with you feet and get rid of them.

De-friending is the new door in the face. And I am very happy to do it.

But hey, we are all here to promote something, to say otherwise would be dishonest. We want to build a following and share our ideas and expertise. In many cases that will be part of a strategy to sell a product or service in the long run. That’s ok, but in a blog or Tweitter message it has to be done at arms length. Therein lies the skill.

Next time I want to tell you about a class I do which is a fab idea and brilliant fun, but is in danger of being ruined, ( for me at least) by the over-sell.

Lucy