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Retail Sales Tips

I write a monthly email directed towards Pool Supply Vendors, particularly Retailers. In this email, I touch down on Sales Tips. Now, of course I put a specific slant on these tips and use examples pertaining to our products Ecosavr and Heatsavr, but my advise can certainly be put to use on just about any product on the market, in the pool industry and out.

The PGN is full of such a wealth of advice, I thought I would through out the question to you all:

What are your top tips for Retail Success?

Some things I have talked about in the past 10 months include:
- using "green" to your advantage
- educating your staff and customers
- the importance of displays
- how impulse buying can improve you bottom line
- and quite a few more, too!

If you have great stories to tell, or techniques to offer, will you share them with the rest of your colleagues? If you can write down your favorite and unique sales tips here, you will be helping to better the industry as a whole. If you would be willing to let me use your secrets to success in my email course, please make note when you offer your feedback in this Discussion.

If anyone is interested in reading my past tips and tricks, send me a message and I can offer a link to the archives.

Thanks in advance, I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Monique Nelson
www.liquidpoolcovers.com

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Replies

  • Don, I love this idea! Do you happen to have any pictures you can share? This is exactly the kind if ideas I was hoping to generate with this discussion group!

    Don Parish said:
    To contribute something positive to the discussion.

    One thing that worked for moving product and utilizing the limited space available in the store is putting displays on the ceiling. This works best with inflatable, and hanging lounge chairs in the windows. Customers are much quicker to buy these products when they can see the size.

    With your product in particular, Monique. I used to hang the solar fish at varying lengths in the area I kept most of the solar heating products. This is very effective in getting people to ask "What is this?"

    Alot of customers come into stores with the mentality that whom ever is working is just trying to sell them something they do not need, that is why so many of them go "I'm just looking!" Displays not only need to get the product in front of the customer, but they need to spurr the customer into asking questions, and opening a dialog with the retailer. Once the dialog is open the retailer has the opportunity to demonstrate there knowledge, customer service skills, and show the consumer that they are not the shark sales people they were expecting.
  • To contribute something positive to the discussion.

    One thing that worked for moving product and utilizing the limited space available in the store is putting displays on the ceiling. This works best with inflatable, and hanging lounge chairs in the windows. Customers are much quicker to buy these products when they can see the size.

    With your product in particular, Monique. I used to hang the solar fish at varying lengths in the area I kept most of the solar heating products. This is very effective in getting people to ask "What is this?"

    Alot of customers come into stores with the mentality that whom ever is working is just trying to sell them something they do not need, that is why so many of them go "I'm just looking!" Displays not only need to get the product in front of the customer, but they need to spurr the customer into asking questions, and opening a dialog with the retailer. Once the dialog is open the retailer has the opportunity to demonstrate there knowledge, customer service skills, and show the consumer that they are not the shark sales people they were expecting.
  • Monique,

    Thank you for your response to the rants of a Mad Man. You are absolutely correct, and I appreciate you having this discussion with me. I do hope that a distributor would include there input to complete the chain.

    I think part of the issue is also the nature of our industry. Because we go hot and heavy for a shorter period than other industries (example everyday retail) we get sucked into a turn-and-burn mentaility. Beyond that, the Reps are hog-tied by restrictions on what they can do because of cost savings.

    I hope that a solution can be found, but in all honesty I believe that it will come down to a retraining sales reps to be "sellers".

    Thanks for the insight from the manufacturers side.
  • Don,

    Again, you are broaching a topic that is just as frustrating for manufacturers as it is for retailers.

    Ideally, the system would look like this:

    Manufactures -> Distribution -> Retailers -> Consumer.
    The -> not only stands for "sells to" but also "motivates".

    You are absolutely correct that the Sales Rep is the middle man, there to fill in where gaps arise. As with everything else, though, there are levels of success. Some groups are "better" than others, some have 20 products that they rep, others only have 2. Some groups rep a huge territory while others are only in a very small area. All of these aspects mean that there are very different approaches taken to each and every product line for each and every territory. It is difficult to have a unified plan of attach with all these variables.

    But please, trust me, if there is a solution that will make everyone happy, it will be welcomed!
  • Thanks for your reply Monique,

    I guess the next part of my quandry becomes, What is the job of the sales rep? Obviously not every manufacturer has a representative in the field, but those who do, is it not there job to motivate independents to purchase their product and to also sell it so that they will purchase more product.

    I agree that distributors should not necessarily provide manufacturers the names of the clients who are buying their products... unless specifically told to do so. Even then the sales reps know who is in there market selling what products and should have ways to motivate more sales.

    In my experienence and i mean in no way to generalize for all manufactures or sales reps that once early buys are done you don't typically see sales reps making courtesy calls on there retailers.

    I think I went off-roading from my initial point a little, but if manufacturers do not have programs designed to motivate sales (creatively) isn't it the job of the sales rep to motivate sales?

    Thanks

    Monique Nelson said:
    Don,
    I think your comments are wonderful, and you certainly shouldn't be hesitant to share them! Manufacturers can always benefit from honest feedback like that, speaking from experience!

    The answer to your questions, though, are layered. Of course I cannot speak for all the manufacturers in the industry, but there are difficulties to offering programs directly to dealers.

    For one, if a manufacturer sells through Distribution, they often have no idea which retailers sell their products. Moreover, they are discouraged from contacting them to avoid "contaminated" relationships between the Retailer - Distributor. It is a touchy field.

    There are many manufacturers who offer programs through their Distributor, but then relies on the Distributor to follow through. For example, Flexible Solutions offers coupons through Pool Corp. The "bonus" is coming from the manufacturer, but Pool Corp gets the recognition, so to speak. It is a small way many manufacturers hope to help Retailers stay competitive.

    As for SPIFF programs and display contests, they would be difficult to market and advertise when you don't have a comprehensive list of who is retailing your product. You mentioned Dupont; do they have a Dealer Direct program, by chance?

    I know from experience that many manufacturers try to help retailers, but have limited power to do so. I will keep brainstorming though, and if I come up with any great ideas, I will do my best to let everyone know. If you have any suggestions for us manufacturers, shout them out. I, for one, will do whatever it in my power to put a new plan into action.

    Thanks again Don!

    Don Parish said:
    Monique,

    I appologize is this comes off as "complaining", I truley mean for it to be a productive contribution to the discussion, but why do more/any manufactures step up to retailers and offer encentives to sell there products. My background in the pool industry started with Leslie's, so the treatment from vendors I experienced during my time with them is quite different now that I am on the independent side of the industry.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the vendors do not offer similar if not the same SPIFF programs, for there independents. The vendors goal is to sell product, our goal is to sell product. Why (in my opinion) are the rewards only geared toward distribution and the large corporations? (Obvious answer: Spending Power) Dupont for example has a fine program again for the afformentioned company to have there stores build displays (as was suggested earlier in the discussion) photograph them and send them in for Dupont to pick a best display. The store won some prize money and the display increased the sales of the product.

    I would think that providing more incentives like this to the independents in the industry (who make up the majority of the residential business) would be great for everyone involved.

    I guess that really was more of a question/rant/complaint. Sorry please delete this if you feel necessary.

    Thanks
  • Don,
    I think your comments are wonderful, and you certainly shouldn't be hesitant to share them! Manufacturers can always benefit from honest feedback like that, speaking from experience!

    The answer to your questions, though, are layered. Of course I cannot speak for all the manufacturers in the industry, but there are difficulties to offering programs directly to dealers.

    For one, if a manufacturer sells through Distribution, they often have no idea which retailers sell their products. Moreover, they are discouraged from contacting them to avoid "contaminated" relationships between the Retailer - Distributor. It is a touchy field.

    There are many manufacturers who offer programs through their Distributor, but then relies on the Distributor to follow through. For example, Flexible Solutions offers coupons through Pool Corp. The "bonus" is coming from the manufacturer, but Pool Corp gets the recognition, so to speak. It is a small way many manufacturers hope to help Retailers stay competitive.

    As for SPIFF programs and display contests, they would be difficult to market and advertise when you don't have a comprehensive list of who is retailing your product. You mentioned Dupont; do they have a Dealer Direct program, by chance?

    I know from experience that many manufacturers try to help retailers, but have limited power to do so. I will keep brainstorming though, and if I come up with any great ideas, I will do my best to let everyone know. If you have any suggestions for us manufacturers, shout them out. I, for one, will do whatever it in my power to put a new plan into action.

    Thanks again Don!

    Don Parish said:
    Monique,

    I appologize is this comes off as "complaining", I truley mean for it to be a productive contribution to the discussion, but why do more/any manufactures step up to retailers and offer encentives to sell there products. My background in the pool industry started with Leslie's, so the treatment from vendors I experienced during my time with them is quite different now that I am on the independent side of the industry.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the vendors do not offer similar if not the same SPIFF programs, for there independents. The vendors goal is to sell product, our goal is to sell product. Why (in my opinion) are the rewards only geared toward distribution and the large corporations? (Obvious answer: Spending Power) Dupont for example has a fine program again for the afformentioned company to have there stores build displays (as was suggested earlier in the discussion) photograph them and send them in for Dupont to pick a best display. The store won some prize money and the display increased the sales of the product.

    I would think that providing more incentives like this to the independents in the industry (who make up the majority of the residential business) would be great for everyone involved.

    I guess that really was more of a question/rant/complaint. Sorry please delete this if you feel necessary.

    Thanks
  • Monique,

    I appologize is this comes off as "complaining", I truley mean for it to be a productive contribution to the discussion, but why do more/any manufactures step up to retailers and offer encentives to sell there products. My background in the pool industry started with Leslie's, so the treatment from vendors I experienced during my time with them is quite different now that I am on the independent side of the industry.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the vendors do not offer similar if not the same SPIFF programs, for there independents. The vendors goal is to sell product, our goal is to sell product. Why (in my opinion) are the rewards only geared toward distribution and the large corporations? (Obvious answer: Spending Power) Dupont for example has a fine program again for the afformentioned company to have there stores build displays (as was suggested earlier in the discussion) photograph them and send them in for Dupont to pick a best display. The store won some prize money and the display increased the sales of the product.

    I would think that providing more incentives like this to the independents in the industry (who make up the majority of the residential business) would be great for everyone involved.

    I guess that really was more of a question/rant/complaint. Sorry please delete this if you feel necessary.

    Thanks
  • Monique,

    Could you please send me the link to your past archives.
  • We had a pool design contest for children one time and created a display out of the designs. The children who created the winning designs in several age groups we invited to the store for a photo, presented them with prizes of different pool toys from the store, and then used the photo and an article in the newspaper. It was fun, inexpensive and got us a ton of free publicity.

    I also had a military display honoring our troops near a patriotic holiday one time. The sign in our window said "We Honor our Fathers and All Those Who Served". Then we had my Dad's Marine uniform from World War One, my husband's dad's from World War Two and his brother's Vietnam uniform, plus other military memorabilia. Many of our customers are retired military people and they really loved the display.
  • Karen (PoolDraw) I am certainly no stranger to Merry's work; her columns are a great inspiration to me! Thanks Merry!

    I love the suggestions so far. Adding humor and approachability to your store is very welcoming and encourages return customers...if only to see what your signs are going to say next week!

    One of my favorite suggestions (that got the most feedback) I sent out in an email last December. I was talking about product placement and creating an exciting environment for your customers and staff by building fun and daring displays. I always remember seeing some great product displays in grocery stores, especially during holiday seasons. Creating "something" out of your stock puts smiles of amazement on your customers faces, and it is fun for many employees to be involved in the creative process.

    Does anyone have any photos or stories to share of their best selling creative displays? I would love to see / hear some!

    Thanks again for the tips; I can't wait to hear more!
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