A Remarkable Sales Lesson From Yankee Candle

Candle

Yesterday I went into Yankee Candle to purchase some of their awesome selling Balsam and Cedar scented candles.  I had a Buy Two, Get Two Free coupon.  My goal, as always when shopping, is to know exactly what I want, get in, get out, and get home!  I certainly hadn’t expected to get schooled in Sales while buying something as simple as a candle.  But I did.

Immediately upon walking in I was greeted by a very nice, “in-the-Christmas-spirit” sales associate.  She noticed I was a “man on a mission”, and asked what she could do to direct me to what I was looking for.  I told her I had a coupon for the buy 2, get 2 and I specifically wanted Balsam and Cedar candles.  She directed me to “get a basket” and then led me to the display where she then said “you want to buy the large candles with that coupon.”  I told her I was planning on getting the medium size jars.  What she said next hit me like a brick.  In all my sales career this was a first.  Her response was so quick, and so filled with conviction it just completely disarmed me.

She said, “Look…you went to college.  The large jar is $27.99 and the medium is $24.99 but the burn-time difference is 60 hours.  I know you can do the math.”  WOW!  This lady was spot on.  She used my own intelligence against me!  I did go to college and I could do the math.  With that I said yes, and out I walked with 3 Balsam and Cedar candles and a Mountain Lodge (my favorite) for a bit of variety.

On my drive home this experience got me thinking.  This lady’s style and level or persuasion rivaled any C-Suite sales executive I’ve ever dealt with and she was working for Yankee Candle!  While I might be wrong, I’m betting her sales skills were all her and not taught by Yankee.  If I’m incorrect I’d love to know more about their sales training program.

Yankee Candle Lady’s Sales Style:

  1. Smile.  The entire interaction she was smiling and genuinely cheerful.
  2. Recognize and acknowledge body language – “man on a mission”.
  3. Provide subtle direction – “get a basket”.  She’s in control.
  4. Respond accordingly – “follow me”, as she led me to the display.
  5. Know your product and your price points – “you want to buy the large”.
  6. Ready with quick reply to objection – “You went to college…you can do the math”.  Her response is disarming.  She’s challenging my intellect but subtly…and with a smile.
  7. Close the deal – she walks me up to the counter to be cashed out.
  8. Thanks me for coming in.  I wish her a Merry Christmas and she looks at me, still smiling and says “Merry Christmas to you too”.

What a truly unexpected and wonderful experience buying a candle!  Yankee, you’ve got yourself a Raving Fan! What do you think?

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3 Ways to a Strong Sales Finish

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With 75 days left in the calendar year many salespeople find themselves in a crunch.  Either a crunch to hit that next multiplier level for bonus money, or a crunch to simply get as close to plan as possible.  Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum here are 3 things every sales pro should be doing right now:

  1. 70/30 split.  At least 70% of your time should be spent with your current customers.  You should be focused on understanding their business, providing value by educating them on possible solutions for their needs, and listening for trends, concerns, ideas, etc.
  2. Ask for the business.  The closest thing to a silver bullet in Sales is asking for the business.  Sure, you need to have earned the right to ask, but let’s assume you have.  Too often sales people assume that if the customer had more business they would have already given it to them.  WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG!  It’s not their job to give you anything.  It’s your job to earn it, ask for it, and then deliver it in a way that makes you both memorable and remarkable.
  3. Be disciplined.  There’s no such thing as a 9 – 5 sales job.  If those are the hours you’re working you’re simply not doing enough.  Oh…you’re already at quota working 9 – 5?  Then I’d ask how much more you could have sold if you kicked it up a few notches?  It’s time to push.  Even if you’re at quota now a new sales year is right around the corner.  Plan your days.  Have your call list ready the night before.  Don’t waste precious selling time getting ready.  When you’re standing at the starting line it’s too late to train for the race.

Be sure you’re confronting reality.  If you’ve missed plan this year take an inventory of where things went wrong.  Be honest.  At the end of the day if you’re over plan it’s because of you and if you’re under plan the reason is the same…you.  You may be more expensive, of lesser quality, or longer to fulfill.  Regardless, you own finding a new path.  Once you accept accountability the path becomes much clearer.

Be calm.  Sell on.

4 Keys To a Better S.A.L.E.

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No matter if you’re new to sales or a seasoned sales executive, brushing up on your selling skills is as important as changing the oil in your car regularly.  Leave the oil too long without changing it and your engine gunks up, gas mileage deteriorates, and in time your engine will fail.  Knowledge is to the sales person what oil is to an engine.  When you stop feeding your mind new knowledge your performance deteriorates and failure is around the corner.  But with so many things to think about, so many calls to make, numbers to hit, you don’t know what to focus on first.  So here’s a tip that will keep it simple…just remember SALE.

The “S” in Sale stands for structure.  Every sales person needs structure.  Some people are naturally disciplined and have strong internal structure while others require help to remain focused and disciplined.  Only you can be honest enough with yourself to know where you fall on the structure spectrum.  Structure includes when you make your calls, how your desk is set up, and whether your car is cleaned.  Structure speaks to your ability to organize.  Stronger organization equals higher efficiency which yields better results.

The “A” in Sale stands for attitude.  John Maxwell, the famous inspirational author, wrote “your attitude determines your altitude.”  Having a positive attitude is essential to success in life and critical to your success in Sales.  Have you ever met a sales person who seemed like they were on their last leg?  No more gas in their tank?  How did that make you feel?  Excited to buy?  Confident in purchasing their product…from them?  No.  No one wants to work with someone with a poor attitude.  No one buys from someone who lacks confidence in themselves, their product, or their company.  If you’re honest enough to recognize you have a confidence gap – read.  Thousands of books and books-on-tape are out their that can help.  Take action.  Don’t let another day go by with a bad attitude.

The “L” in Sale stands for learning.  If you’re not a continuous learning become one…and fast.  Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than everyone else.”  The rules of the game are always changing in Sales.  Your customer is evolving.  The internet and its ability to provide mountains of information will continue to change the game for years to come.  Better educated customers and prospects force a sales person to constantly up their game.  If you think the sales skills that won you awards 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year will work in 2016 you’re wrong.  News flash!  If your buyer hasn’t already changed, they are in the process of changing.  Read.  As much as you can from as many sources as you can.  Commit to bringing one or two points from what you read that day into your sales conversations, then watch how your customer engagements change before your eyes.

The “E” in Sale stands for energy.  And lots of it.  Sales is physically and mentally demanding.  Some days are more draining that others.  Break up your day.  No matter how good you are you simply can’t sit and make 50 sales calls in a row without stopping.  While that may be physically possible, your energy levels will diminish and your customer will sense it.  Stay hydrated.  Drink 4 – 5 glasses of water throughout the day, or bottles if more convenient.  Stop for lunch.  If you don’t have the time for lunch keep an energy and protein bar handy.  You don’t want low energy levels to come across as poor attitude.  And make sure you get a work-out in daily.  Whether you start, or end, your day running, spinning, swimming or CrossFit, simply make sure to get some exercise in.  It will help keep your mind fresh, your energy up, and your endurance strong.

Happy Selling!