Fable Friday Part II: How about a nice tie to go with that shirt?

Last week we looked at an example of fast, just-in-time training that helped a major bank provide great service and customer retention.  Today we’ll look at another story in which “cramming” the training led to increased sales.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedYears ago I worked for a company that specialized in software and consulting for marketing campaigns.  Much of what we take for granted today in campaign management was quite new back then, and the average customer had no idea that his buying history had been dissected, that he had been placed in some market or customer segment with thousands of total strangers, and that campaigns had been staged in advance to be sprung on him the instant he behaved in a certain way.

Of course today when Starbucks puts an “award” on your card after X purchases, or you get a birthday card from your broker, it seems commonplace, but many of these campaigns and the engines running behind them were new stuff and customers had no idea they were in place.

Let’s use a catalog company as an example, perhaps one like Lands’ End, or another you’re familiar with.  When clickstream tracking and analysis were in their infancy, these companies had powerful insights into sales opportunities merely by observing where the customer traveled in his online shopping.  Today, many programs, including Google Analytics, come with basic clickstream analysis functionality (in Google Analytics, it’s called “site overlay.”)

But these programs allow the user to look at historical traffic, what areas of the website attracted visitors, where most of the sales came from and so on. But what about the immediate sale?  Let’s say you read the paper catalog that comes in the mail, see a product you like and then go online to see what else is available, if there are specials, or if the pricing is still the same.

You decide to buy two traditional dress shirts, although you looked briefly at a couple of attractive ties, but felt they were too expensive.  So it’s two shirts today and that’s all you’re going to buy.

Like many others you window shop online, but prefer to order with a human by phone and you soon get a friendly, knowledgeable sales rep to help you. When you order the shirts, she says, “Since that catalog came out, we’re running a sale on ties, and you might like the red and gray stripe or the navy check to go with either of those shirts.  They’re just $X each.”

Of course she knows you looked at those ties and assumes you abandoned the sale due to price, and bingo! A sale is made.

Well, somebody had to train those sales reps on how to handle situations like this one, to know exactly what to say, just in time.  (And of course the subject in the training room that caused much hilarity was the unnecessary reminder to the reps that they should not ask, “Why were you looking at the bras and panties?”)

So while all sales training is important, it’s also sometimes urgent, and in either case it has to be right.  You just have to…

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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