Tag Archives: proactive selling

Last call for SAS sales crew.

Can team SAS wow me with their sales skills, or will I be looking for the exit, there, there and there.  Let’s find out…

I’m flying back from three days working with a retailer in  Denmark.  It is the first time I have travelled with Scandinavian Airlines and although my preconceptions were clouded by a troublesome iOS App before flying, the staff onboard both flights were very impressive.

Staff were friendly, bright, engaged and authentic.  An experience I am finding rare with European flights of late.

Whilst on my return flight, I am sat next to a snoring frequent flyer (irrelevant but amusing nonetheless) typing up my summary notes for the client.  The sessions had been on retail selling and key tips and tricks to impact business before Christmas.

I had just completed the paragraph on add-on selling when the cabin crew came through offering drinks.  “Do you have a beer?” I asked.  “Yes” said the crew member “I have this Scandinavian beer in blonde or dark, it’s a little more expensive, or Carlsberg”.

I thought the distinction between the ‘Scandinavian’ beer and ‘Carlsberg’ which interestingly is made in Copenhagen – Denmark – Scandinavia, was interesting.  More intriguing was the distinction between the two brands that centred only around price. Is that the only difference?  Is the ‘more expensive’ beer delicious, brewed in a unique way, Scandinavia’s most popular?  Perhaps, but all I know is that it is the most expensive.

Lacking a sound motive to spend more than I needed to, I opted for the Carlsberg.  As the cabin crew member prepared my over priced can of beer and tiny plastic beaker, he played a brilliant card. “Would you like some cashew nuts with your beer sir?”  Absolutely I did.  I hadn’t realised before, I hadn’t considered what snack offering they had, it’s not even a snack I eat very often – but it was instantly the perfect match to my cold beer.

As small an add-on sale cashew nuts are, they are still an add-on, an extra bit of turnover that maximises my spend during this relatively short flight.  It made my beer more enjoyable and no doubt made me a little more thirsty thanks to the salt.  It didn’t annoy me, as most attempts to add-on sale do, and enhanced my experience.  That was a brilliantly simple and relevant add-on sale.  Although this appears so basic, I cannot remember the last time a bar offered me nuts or snacks with a drink.

Cabin crew selling

Like an inverted feedback sandwich of good, bad, good – the interaction did take a turn for the worse again when I asked if I could pay in sterling.  “You can but the rate is terrible”.  Ok a few things here, twice he has made cost assumptions, despite no indication I have any issues with cost.  Secondly, why are SAS knowingly offering terrible exchange rates?  Wishing not to dwell on either, I paid on a card in the local currency and ended the encounter.

Whilst enjoying my beer and cashew nuts he completed his walk through the cabin and made an announcement, promoting the duty free offering.  These scripted sales pitches are typically distracting, irritating and weak, and most of the pitch did the same, he did say a one thing that caught my attention however.  “Our best sellers are…lipstick, candy…all with a Scandinavian twist”. This felt less scripted, in fact I could see him riffling through his trolley to decide what was tonight’s best sellers (presumably based on which had been the least best selling items, left on the trolley). Best sellers plays on a core psychological driver known as ‘Social Influence’. We take comfort in following the crowd, the group or the majority when making decisions. It reduces risk and is deemed more trustworthy.  Whilst his delivery was a little clumsy and insincere, I was impressed to hear him use the technique, one I haven’t heard used by the incessant efforts to sell duty free on flights across Europe.  The Scandinavian twist was also very clever.  A Friday evening flight may well have Brits returning home to loved ones or visitors from Scandinavia about to descend on someone – both have grounds to bear gifts with a ‘Scandinavian twist’.

What we can learn?

  • Always look for opportunities to sell add-ons, in a relevant and timely way. With a little thought they can enhance the customer experience.
  • Find a distinction between products/services that actually represent value to your customer.
  • Use the power of social influence to guide customer decisions and reduce the perceived risk.
  • Consider likely motives a customer may have to purchase your products, and include where you can.

Well done SAS, whilst not faultless, better than most!

Proactive retail selling.

Location: Carphone Warehouse, Selfridge’s London

I’m a big fan of Selfridges London and a moderate fan of Carphone Warehouse, who are one of the better all brand mobile phone retail chains.  So when Carphone Warehouse opened a concession in Selfridges, I had the perception that the experience would be pretty impressive.

“Can I show you this case” the sales assistant asked rhetorically, as he started his demonstration.  Like a market trader in a holiday resort, the concession’s idea of increasing footfall appeared to centre around accosting unsuspecting browsers to endure a silicon case demo.

“The skin comes in 4x colours” he went on to say, seizing the opportunity of my politeness choosing not to ignore him.  He gestured in the loose direction of his concession, that was hidden behind the computer concessions display of Apple MacBooks.  Having recognised from my body language that I wasn’t heading in that direction, he decided to demonstrate how effective the phone ‘skin’ was.  Peeling it back from the phone, he showed me a crack on the top right hand corner of the screen.  “I’ve dropped this phone lots of times” he confessed, “and I only have this small crack, if I didn’t have this case, I would have probably broken my phone”.

Broken phone, better sales approach would have worked

I smiled; for two reasons: firstly I was amused by his sales pitch, and secondly based on his sales pitch I suspected his conversion rate was relatively low and some encouragement would probably be welcome.  “It’s ok buddy” I said “I’ve got a case, but thank you”.

It wasn’t clear who he worked for at that stage, he was wearing black and a Selfridges badge, but was clearly employed by a concession – although most customers would be unaware of this until they got to the till.  I took a long walk round to his concession, to realise it was indeed Carphone Warehouse.

OK, so what can we learn from this brief encounter?

1: I’m not sure we should be jumping on customers unsolicited in this manner.

Shopping would be very tiresome if every brand or seller jumped on us as we passed their stand or shopfront. The exception to this would be when we have something incredibly new, amazing, ground breaking or interesting to share, which may enrich my life or make me a little more interesting on the next outing with the guys.  In this instance, I question whether a silicon skin/case meets this criteria.

That said, with some preparation and theatre we could have made the case demonstration more exciting and interesting.  If as I walked passed, he placed the phone on the floor and stamped on it, or invited me to hit it with a giant mallet it would grab my attention.  He may have gone on to demonstrate that the device still worked by asking me to enter my email address.  Had he, a number of things would have ensued:

  • I’d be entertained, the novelty element of my brain would have lit up like a Christmas tree.  This isn’t something you see every day!
  • I’d be impressed, he let me hit his phone with a mallet and it still works
  • I’d start to like the salesman, he let me hit his phone.  He trusted me, now I am more likely to trust him.
  • I’m involved, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.  It was now my demo, not his, and we know involvement is also very persuasive.

2: Showing or admitting to minor flaws and addressing them with practical compromises or rationale can be very persuasive.  For example, at Kerching Retail we are only a small team, that is a perceived weakness.  However, this means you always get our best consultants working on your business, not the intern.

Demonstrating that the phone cracked it’s screen whilst in a protective case is not a minor flaw, but a fundamental one.  I’m not in the market for a case that limits damage, I need it to eliminates damage.

3: Qualifying customers.  Did I have a need for this case? Perhaps, or I may have needed it for my girls or wife.  A couple of questions may have changed the entire dynamic of the interaction.  “Can I see your phone please sir, and your current case?”  He would have immediately seen I use a Tech21 Impactology case, to protect against frequent and frustrating habit of dropping my phone whilst multi-tasking, typically – in my office, in shopping malls, and more often than not – on a Shopfit site.  “I see your phone’s safety is important to you, are there any other phones in your household?…” Its easy to see where the conversation may have led from this.

In Summary: Although a pretty ineffective demo, there is scope to create a memorable and engaging experience with a little practice, preparation and theatre.