Staff Training - Consult vs. Sell

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Staff Training - Consult vs. Sell

Postby Charles » Jan 12th, '10, 11:36

Part two of my series on training staff in a tea shop ( covers the difference between consulting with a customer and selling to a customer.

I'm curious to hear your stories of shops that did this poorly, but especially any who's staff really impressed you with their focus on making YOU happy.

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Re: Staff Training - Consult vs. Sell

Postby LauraW » Jan 12th, '10, 15:34

I couldn't agree more. Yes, selling is important, but if they like you, they tell their friends, and suddenly instead of a one-time $200 sale, you have 10 regulars. Also: "Imagine a Vineyard in Napa Valley offering you a sample of their finest Cabernet, and then suggesting a shot of blueberry juice for antioxidants and soy milk for Omega-3's. Ahhhhggg!!! " <-Yikes!

As for personal experience, the closest I've come to perfect was in a makeup store - very tailored approach to the needs of the customer and what will make them happy, not what will make the sale. Yes, I walked out with an item that I hadn't intended on getting, but she showed me that given the parameters I laid out, that it would in fact compliment what I wanted better than what I thought I wanted upon entering.

Most of my experience in tea shops has either been 1) I've been more or less ignored until ready to actually purchase something; or 2) was given polite, concise answers to questions, but nothing ultimately thrilling about the experience (the same store went on to tell me about how their manager... doesn't manage well... while I waited for my tea to be prepared).

My worst experience was going into a shop where I looked around, ultimately sure that I wasn't going to buy a teapot, which is most of what's on their shelves. The tea being behind the counter, I was asked if I wanted to smell their "featured product" that day - so I did. I asked to smell another, and liked the latter better. The associate then presented another offering, this time very sweet and fruity ("a bestseller") and when I turned it down as too much fruit for my taste, proceeded to pull down the most fruitful of their offerings... I'm not sure if she misheard me say "not fruit" or if she just wasn't listening, but I was ultimately displeased because it was clear she had a list of items she was checking off, and not paying attention to my preferences.

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Re: Staff Training - Consult vs. Sell

Postby mj2020 » Jan 14th, '10, 10:40

The "hard sell" is a problem with most retail sales, but what I find worse is indifferent staff, or uninformed staff. I shop in a lot of different tea purveyors here in Chicago (and just about anywhere else in the world I roam.) I think most of them do an okay job with casual consumers.

What I hate is when I go into a shop with something specific in mind, and they seem to want to push what ever the "deal of the day" is - or what ever their current favorite is, without any thought to the customer's needs. For instance, I recently was in a shop to specifically buy an oolong I know they carry - and had various flavored tisanes pushed on me.

What I like is when a shop has educated staff that can recommend things that complement what I ask for - even something edgy. Knowledgeable, smart staff is a must.

Also, retaining staff long term is a must to grow a loyal base - shops that have high turnover of staff never really form a bond with their shoppers. (And tend to make me question what else is going on...)

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