In retail, then pick up the phone

When did you last get a phone call from a retail store?  Was it in the last week?  In the last month?  Since the beginning of the year?

No, I didn’t think so.  Yet, times are supposed to be tough.  So, why is it that less than one in a thousand people working in retail stores even think to phone up a past customer?

Now, for a retailer running an ‘everything under $10s’ shop it’s not going to be cost effective, but if the bulk of their stock sells for more than $50 why wouldn’t they and their team take it in turns to phone 5 customers?


People don’t like getting cold calls

“But, people don’t like getting cold calls”, we hear retail sales staff (and managers) say. This is not a cold call.

The reason the store has their number is because they are a past customer.  This makes it a warm call.  And you are not phoning up to sell to them – that’s right, the purpose of the call is to stimulate increased business but not by selling.  I will explain in a minute.  You are doing what all good friends do… keeping in touch.

What could you phone the customer about if it’s not to sell to them?

That’s a good question, and it’s one that should be discussed in a pre-work breakfast meeting at stores in every city and every small town.  The retail team should be able to come up with some reasons.  Here are two examples –

1.      The guarantee on the customer’s ‘duvalakey’ runs out in less than 2 months

The store phones to check that everything is OK and to remind the customer that in the unlikely event that they are having any problems, now is the time to act on their concerns.  That will blow the customer’s mind!  Which makes it a great opportunity to gather positive testimonials about the product and help make the store become their first choice for future purchases.

2.      To inform them that a great new cafe has just opened up three doors down from your store

Suggest that if they are going to be in the area pop into the store, mention this phone call and they’ll receive a voucher for a complimentary coffee.  “No, you don’t have to buy anything when you pop in.  It’s just our way of introducing you to a new neighbour and thanking you for your past custom.  Just pop in anytime between now and the end of the month.” 

Will they buy from this retailer when they pop in to get their coffee voucher?  9 out of 10 will, it’s the ‘Law of Reciprocity’ in action.  Even if they don’t take up the opportunity, the fact that the retailer has made a ‘no strings attached’ offer will remind them of how smart they are to have chosen to shop there in the past.

This is a bit different to having another 20%, 30%, 50% off SALE like every other retailer in every other shopping strip and shopping centre in every other town.  But it takes a bit of effort and it means doing something different from everyone else.  Doing something different, that’s a novel idea, somebody ought to try it!

‘But what if I don’t have customer contact details?’ asks a retailer.  Start collecting them NOW.

In business today, as in yesteryear, it isn’t just what you know, it’s who you know.  A data base is almost as important for retailers as it is for professional services and people in B2B.  The difference is the retailer doing this will be one of the few using the information to keep in touch on a personal ‘me to you’ basis.

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email