Today’s post is by Lynn Mandinec, business manager at Ryan Estis & Associates. Lynn works closely with REA clients to design the right program and curriculum to deliver high-impact event and training experiences.
Last month, I drove my twelve-year-old daughter to the other side of town to look at running shoes. I had no intention of buying anything. An hour later, my attitude had completely changed because of an amazing sales experience.
My daughter and I are training for a half marathon. She’s had trouble with shin splints in the past, and a chiropractor friend referred us to a specialty shoe store called Runner’s Gate.
He told us that at the store, they’d analyze our stride and fit us with the appropriate shoe. “Go there, figure out what kind of shoe you need, and then order them on Zappos or Amazon for cheaper,” he said. The store is 30 minutes away from my house, but I drove my daughter to get fitted anyway. I expected to be in and out quickly — I didn’t want to buy anything, I just wanted to find the shoes that were best for us.
The service was out of this world. We both received a specialized running analysis. Then, Kristi, the sales consultant (and she really felt like a consultant, not a salesperson) brought each of us three different shoes to try on based on our individual runner’s gait. She explained the differences between the shoes, and as a “team” the three of us picked out the shoe that was the best choice. She was extremely knowledgeable and obviously had a true passion for running that came through in her explanations and recommendations.
The shoes were expensive, but I was so impressed that I didn’t even think about looking around at other stores’ prices. I ordered the shoes on the spot. They’d earned the sale. I’d had such a positive experience that I wasn’t thinking about price anymore.
A week later, we went to pick up our shoes. A different consultant, Phil, was there, but the experience was seamless. He helped us try on the shoes and had us try them out to make sure the fit was perfect. Then, he asked us about our half marathon training schedule, and how our nutrition was going. We were taken off guard — we aren’t on any special training diet. So, he spent time explaining what we should be eating, including the diet we should consider in the days leading up to our race for optimal performance.
I was blown away. I haven’t had such a positive customer experience in years. I’ve already referred several friends to the store. The salespeople really cared about my running performance. They wanted me to feel good and perform well. They didn’t care about the sale. Instead, they were just focused on being helpful.
I don’t think I’ll ever buy running shoes anywhere else.
Customers value expertise and experience. If you can’t offer an amazing experience, you’re reduced to competing on price. Here’s what my experience at Runner’s Gate taught me:
- Reputation is everything. I was referred to the store by my friend because of their great reputation. Now, I’m the one making the referrals.
- Customers are looking for insight. The sales associates I worked with earned my business because they provided compelling insight during the sales process. No matter what you’re selling, if you work in sales today, you have to offer your customers information and expertise they can’t get on their own.
- Create an experience. I didn’t just buy running shoes. I had a brand experience. Runner’s Gate cares about building a consistent, branded customer experience in their stores, and for me, it resulted in a sale.
- Customers don’t buy based on price. I could have ordered the shoes cheaper online — or probably at the big-box store closer to my house. But once I’d had such a memorable, helpful experience, price didn’t matter to me anymore.
- You never know who your best customer may be. When I walked into the store, the salespeople could have dismissed me as a low-potential buyer — a middle-aged mother with a twelve-year-old daughter. We don’t look like your typical marathon runners, but we were treated with remarkable service, anyway. Every customer needs to receive the same, consistent level of service, every time. You never know what potential buyer will turn into a closed sale, more referrals, and a blog post spreading the word to anyone who will listen!
Ryan Estis helps progressive companies embrace change, attack opportunity and achieve breakthrough performance. Delivering more than 75 live events annually, Ryan provides high-impact keynote presentations and professional development in partnership with the world’s best brands. Learn more about Ryan.