Here are three examples on how to present and demonstrate your products and one illustrating how not to do so.
These are taken from our, ‘Retail Selling: The Complete Do-It-Yourself Training Programme’. They are from a module in Volume 2 on ‘Developing Confidence in Your Products’.
Get your customers involved
If it’s an item of clothing let the customer touch it and then encourage them to try it on. If its furniture, perhaps you’re showing them a sofa, invite them to sit on it. If you’re in a pharmacy and you’re reading information from the label on the back of the box pick up the second item and put it in their hand so that they have it as well. Wherever possible, encourage your customers to hold the item, try it on or use it in some way.
By letting them experience the product, it becomes more real to them. Also it is no longer your product, when it is in their hands or as they are trying it out it is potentially their product. They’ve moved a little closer to ownership of the item.
Handle with care
Have you ever been in a jewellery store and noticed how the staff present a precious diamond necklace or ring to the customer? Without even seeing the price you know it is expensive because of the reverence they show as they handle it.
They should also present a diamante necklace or ring in exactly the same way, yet very few sales people do this. It’s about being customer focussed rather than product focussed. You are handling this person’s potential possession so it should be treated as if it is precious.
Treat your merchandise with respect. Remember, you may be showing the product to its future owner.
I remember trying on a pair of squash shoes in a small sports store. It was busy and there seemed to be lots of pairs of sport shoes spread across the floor. After trying on a pair that didn’t seem quite right, the owner brought me another pair. He made room for me by sweeping aside the first pair and a couple of others with his foot as if they were rubbish to be put in the bin.
He probably thought he was just moving HIS ‘stock’ out of the customer’s way but to customers he is not only devaluing the product, he is treating THEIR potential product disrespectfully.
By the way, it is a good tactic to immediately remove from sight any product that the customer has rejected – though not ones they are just a bit doubtful about – so, the sports store owner was doing something right. It’s just how he did it that was wrong!
Demonstrating a product
We’ve already covered some key points appropriate to demonstrating a product in the previous sections on handling the product with care and getting your customer involved.
The more interactive you can make the shopping experience, the more inclined your customers will be to buy. And if you can provide them with evidence via this interaction they will have proved to themselves that the product can do what you say.
With many products, an ounce of demonstration is worth a ton of words especially if your customers can try out the product for themselves. Research has shown that when a customer is given the opportunity to use a product or see it in operation the chances of closing the sale increase by 17%.
There are a couple of additional rules to bear in mind.
- Check any products first to make sure they work. This should be done in advance of your customers coming into the store. There is nothing more embarrassing than attempting to demonstrate a product that has a faulty part that doesn’t work.
- Make sure you can demonstrate with confidence by rehearsing in advance. Take turns at demonstrating products with your colleagues.
- Be completely familiar with any safety considerations associated with the product.
Case Study: Piano Virtuoso
When my daughter was 7 or 8 years old she expressed an interest in learning to play the piano. So we headed out on a shopping expedition to purchase a piano. Having no experience in anything musical, I relied on the knowledge of the salesperson in the retail store. What would be best for her as a beginner? Which makes and models held their value best in case she didn’t maintain her interest? And so on.
In one store we came across a knowledgeable salesperson who clearly enjoyed seeing a child being introduced to a musical instrument. He answered my questions, translated the features into benefits and took an interest in my daughter as well as me. He almost had us there ... then he blew it!
He sat down at the piano to demonstrate and proceeded to stun us by playing the most amazing piece. Then he got up and asked my daughter to have a go. She wouldn’t go near the piano. He had totally intimidated her with his virtuoso performance.
We politely excused ourselves and a few days later bought the same piano from another retail store where my daughter didn’t feel intimidated.
The lesson from this is that whether you are demonstrating a new computer gizmo or an electrical guitar if you concentrate on showing off your skills rather than demonstrating ease of use, you may intimidate the customer. And if they are unwilling to try it they are unlikely to buy it.