Why to your retail store foot traffic is dropping and how to bring customers in

Getting foot traffic to retail stores is harder than ever. These are unique ways to attract customers to your shop.

Chocolate cookies can increase retail store foot traffic.
Chocolate cookies can increase retail stores foot traffic.

You know your sales go up the more your retail store foot traffic increases, but store visits are at an all-time low? Is everyone shopping for everything online now? Yes, they are.  71% of shoppers believe they’ll find better deals online.

The good news is that shoppers do still want an in-person experience as part of their buying process. And 94% of retail sales are still credited to brick-and-mortar stores. The bad news is that most retail shop owners are failing to create the experiences that attract customers to their location. With over 5,000 stores closed this year, can local retailers compete with e-commerce giant Amazon?
Want more creative ways to attract customers to your retail store? Download this free guide.

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Everything is different now. So here’s a list of unique ideas for retailers to boost foot traffic and increase sales in their brick-and-mortar stores.

Create curb appeal that increase retail store foot traffic

Humans are visual beings and it’s no secret that attractive and well-kept spaces invite people in, literally and figuratively. Use flowers and landscaping to create a store front so beautiful, people stop what they’re doing to come inside and check it out.

A compelling window display, like showing how a product is made can do wonders to grab the attention of people walking or driving by. The human brain is trained to detect movement, so an active demo can draw consumers into your retail store.

Bricks and mortar stores can offer amenities that online stores cannot

We’ve all had the experience of our phone charge being on single digits with no charging options in site. A unique, inexpensive and extremely valuable service you can provide customers is a charging stations. Promote this outside with a fun sign and you’ll draw people in easily. Plus, they’ll stay until their phones get a decent charge and the longer customers spend in your store, the more likely they are to purchase.

Offer ways your customers can recharge their personal “batteries” with a hydration station. Everyone needs water and if you add more options, like, tea, coffee and snacks, people will naturally want to step inside your shop. Attract more retail store foot traffic with chocolate chip cookies, granola and hot cocoa.

Have you ever been to a luxury car dealer and visited the customer lounge? Acura offers Starbuck coffee, water, sodas, fresh cookies, chocolate, chips, fruit and more. Lexus kicks it up a notch with a customer lounge experience that feels more like the VIP Admiral’s club than a car dealership. They have lots of seating with charging stations and a coffee and pastry bar that rivals any patisserie. Customers order the beverage and baked goodies of their choice and receive them at no charge. Sometimes there’s even a charming gift shop available for perusing while you wait.

The secret to increasing foot traffic to your retail store is to provide an amazing experience that makes customers want to come in and stay. It is all about creating incredibly positive customer experiences. And retail stores can do that so much better than e-commerce stores. Are you up for it?

Get the secret recipe for bringing more foot traffic into your retail store. FREE Guide!
Get the secret recipe for bringing more foot traffic into your retail store. FREE Guide!

The 4 selling tips small business owners must use to avoid failure

Which steps must you take or face business failure? This post includes the four selling tips small business owners need to follow so they can rock their success. Skip these at the risk of your own peril.

Starting and running a business is challenging! Business owners wear so many hats and have so much to do every day. While it’s essential for entrepreneurs to do many things well, I’ll give you the bullet points for the sales essentials you need to use to ensure success.

(Interested in more sales tips for small business owners? Download this free ebook, “From Cold to Sold” and get 17 sales secrets.)

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The selling tips small business owners are smartest to use are efficient and useful.

Have a selling plan

The importance of having a plan cannot be understated. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Without a plan, all the other selling tips for small business owners are wasted. Author Katherin Peterson famously said, “a dream wihout a plan is just a wish”.

SMB owners can keep the sales plan simple, for a start. Have one place where all leads and customer information is kept. This can be a CRM or an Excel spreadsheet. Create sales goals, even if you’re guestimating. 

Also, have an idea of how many opportunities you’ll need to close to reach this goal. Start with a specific target number of phone calls or in-person appointments. As you close sales, track how many prospects you contact for each sale. It’s also helpful for seeing how much follow up is required to close the sale. This is highly valuable data you can use to continue refining your selling plan. 

Know your unique selling propostion

Most likely, you’re famliar with this term. But unique selling proposition (USP) is still too YOU-centric. Like it or not, humans are ME-centric, which means the best way to make your product appeal to your prospect is to make the USP about THEM. This comes down to what does your product or service do for your client? A “value proposition” is the customer-centric version of the USP. 

Don’t even pick up the phone until you have a clear understanding of what your service or product does FOR your customer. What pain does is alleviate? Which problem does it solve? How does it remove fear? Understanding the value your offering delivers to prospects is essential to grabbing and keeping attention. No one has any interest in hearing descriptions of a product when they see nothing in it for them.

Sales techniques that focus on the prospect

Listen to customer’s needs

Asking questions and listening is powerful for building rapport and for discovering your customer’s needs. More about how much about the prospect your selling process must be. And guess what? People love talking about themselves, so getting your customers talking is easier than you might think.

Listening to customer needs also serves to further qualify what’s important to them and how they want to communicate. Which provides invaluable insight for tailoring your offer specifically to what your potential client wants. Thus increasing your likelihood of closing this sale.

Ask for the sale

Sound ridiculous? You’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen. A common challenge facing small business owners is fear of rejection. Actually, this is a common problem for even the most seasoned salespeople.  Toss that fear of rejection out the door. If you’ve done a good job of qualifying your prospect, then you know if they have a problem you can solve. Simply ask if they want you to help solve it for them.

These are the top 4 selling tips small business owners need to use to ensure success. The list of others sales and customer retention techniques and  is endless, but these are the most important ones, in my opinion.

From Cold to Sold! 17 Selling tips small business owners can use to explode their sales
From Cold to Sold! 17 Selling tips small business owners can use to explode their sales

Entrepreneur Success Starts with Step 1 – Respect

Part 1 of 5 in the RAISE Sales System blog post series for entrepreneur success.

Are you an entrepreneur who struggles with sales? If so, you’re not alone. Entrepreneur success requires strong sales skills and this struggle is a common problem that many business owners have. Entrepreneurs wear a lot of different hats and for most, selling isn’t their strongest skillset.

Respect the prospect - entrepreneur success
Entrepreneur success requires RESEPCT, step 1 in the RAISE sales system

One of the secrets to entrepreneur success is knowing how to ask for and close the sale. In this 5 part blog series, I’m going to share my signature sales system, RAISE.  I created this 5-step strategy RAISE from my 25+ years of experience across multiple industries and teach it in workshops and when doing sales coaching with clients. This is the sales process entrepreneurs and sales professionals use for dramatically increasing sales.

Download free ebook “17 Sales Hacks to Close More Sales”

RAISE is the word that is spelled out by the first letter of each of the steps in the system. This post is about the first step and each post in this series will reveal subsequent steps in the RAISE system.

The R in RAISE is for respect and I love starting with respect because this is where a relationship building begins. This is where developing the know, like and trust factors starts, so you can advance to asking for the sale.

Entrepreneur success secret #1 is Respect

You can’t close the sale if you’re no longer in the conversation. Respecting the prospect will keep you in the conversation longer than asking for the sale before they are ready to buy.

First of all, respecting where the customer actually is, and not where you wish they were in the buying process is vital to entrepreneurs success. It’s super essential to be aware of where your prospect is where their heads at what they care about where they are in the sales or buying process.

Two Ears and One Mouth for a Reason

One example is at a networking event or a party. You have connected with somebody and they did most of talking, while you do a lot of listening. At the end of the conversation, they say, “You’re a great conversationalist!” And you think to yourself, “I said so very little and you did all the talking!” There’s a reason people say we have two ears and only one mouth for a reason:-)

Why is it that the person who did the listening is a great conversationalist? Because human beings love to feel heard. When we show consideration for people and actively listen to them, they FEEL respected and valued. Plus, we find out what is important to them and that knowledge fuels our own entrepreneur success. All of this goodness also allows us to build the know, like and trust factors.

Success Story Using Respect to Sell

Now I’ll share with you an example of how amazing the Respect step is for entrepreneurs to succeed. In the late 80s, I sold construction equipment in Florida, working for the only companies in the country that had female sales. I was calling on construction sites throughout Southwest Florida and I wasn’t always welcomed. One general contractor was using the old-style, less cost effective and more dangerous scaffolding on a project that was a prime candidate for using a boomlift. He wasn’t interested in hearing about a new technology solution from a woman who he perceived didn’t know anything about construction.

How I Cracked the Tough Prospect

If I was going to have any shot at selling this customer a boomlift, I knew I needed to get creative. I realized I needed to respect where he was, no where I wanted him to be.

Since I knew he felt competent as a general contractor, I asked him about the project. He was happy to talk about it. After listening, I offered to deliver the boomlift the next day at no charge to him. If at the end of the day, he found the equipment effective, he could keep it and pay only for the rental for the rest of the time he used it. If not, I’d pick it up and charge him nothing. No risk for him.

When I called this customer at the end of the day, he told me I could leave the boomlift.  I had the sale without ever asking for it. What is important to know, is that I respected where this customer this prospect was and stayed in the conversation. When building a relationship with a prospect, starting with respecting where they are and what they value is the best first step. R is for Respect and entrepreneur success depends upon it.

Download your free eBook “From Cold to Sold” and get the 17 secrets for converting more leads to customers.

How to accelerate lead nurturing and turn on the flow of referrals

Part 2 of the Secret Weapon: Referral partners can amplify your sales.

You’ve asked, listened and begun nurturing those new contacts. Awesome! Want to learn what will speed the relationship developing process along faster so you can convert contacts into referral partners?

Here’s how to crank up your list of referral partners: Follow up until they “Buy or Die”!

80% of sales require seven follow-ups (and that number keeps climbing)   [Source: Scripted]
44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up  [Source: The Marketing Donut]

So, if you’re an entrepreneur looking to attract more clients, these numbers are eye-opening. This means it’s likely your competition won’t follow up as often as you will if you commit to five times. BOOM! Advantage, you!

Download the free 3 Step Plan to get more referral partners.

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If you’re a job seeker, this underscores the importance of persistence. While no one wants to be a pest, it’s in your best interest to follow up multiple times. Some HR experts say, “Follow up until they buy or die.”
People are just too busy to remember who they talked to and what action they promised. Those who rely on new contacts to do the follow-up are guaranteed disappointing results. Instead, proactive professionals who make a point to reconnect after introductions impress and succeed.

Staying connected is how you’ll nurture and build this relationship, so call or email with a brief message about how much you enjoyed talking with them and that you’d like to stay in touch. Mention something specific they talked about. Ask what social media they prefer and connect with them on those channels. LinkedIn is a given for most professionals, but find out if they like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest also. Most people have a couple of go-to channels they like.

People are more likely to respond to social media than an email, so take advantage of that and meet them where they are. Showing social love to your contacts will accelerate you rapidly towards your goal of accumulating referral partners to grow your business. Public admiration and validation is pure gold!

Check out my post “5 ways to get free leads on LinkedIn” and “Promote Your Business with Instagram” for specific tips.
You now have a platform for nurturing that new business relationship and expanding your network. Repost things they post, make comments (positive and insightful) and make sure you do it within the first week, and then every couple of weeks after that.
Network like a pro and watch the job opportunities and sales flow in, right? There’s a little more to it than that, of course. Once you have the strong referral network in place, you need to know how to ask for the referrals.

When you’re ready to build a full pipeline of referral partners, consider a the RAISE online sales course.

Learn more about RAISE online course

Follow up is the gold – From cold to sold to convert leads to sales

6 step process for follow-up after meeting a new contact
How to follow-up after making new contact.

Nice to meet you, now what. The steps you need to take to follow-up and convert those new contacts into customers produce the gold.

Well done. You went out there and connected with some new people. Networking can feel daunting and you did it anyway! And, now what? What’s the secret to converting that new contact into a referral relationship or customer? Knowing what to say and how to say it without sounding cheesy can be a challenge too.

Download this free eBook to get more ideas on how the pros follow-up and get more customers. “From Cold to Sold” 17 sales secrets for converting more leads to customers.

If you need to repeat it, automate it, as they say. So here’s the 6 step process I use and can recommend for you.

Follow-up is SO valuable for converting sales

  1. Always send a quick thank you email or text the same day or the next day at the latest. This shows respect for the other person’s time by prioritizing a follow up to the conversation right away. It is more important to send this quickly, rather than for it to be a comprehensive or long email.
  2. Be yourself. Authenticity is always a good approach. To pretty much everything. So, it’s not surprising that follow-up emails are no different. Since people feel good when you listen to them, include something key you heard the contact you just met say. Use your own “voice” and keep it professional. That doesn’t mean uptight, just respectful.
  3. Make a positive observation about the person, company or project that this contact mentioned. For example, comment on how you can see this work achieving the goals or being successful. This is more good evidence of your effective listening skills and which creates the know, like and trust factors
  4. Summarize the action items you agreed to do and include any you can in this email. So, if your follow-up action requires more time or a separate email, outline how and when you will complete it.
  5. Thank your new contact for the action items they offered. Because appreciation is always smart and it can be a helpful reminder to busy people who’s intentions are good and who’s schedules are full. They feel valued. And that is more know like and trust development:-)
  6. Connect with your new contact on LinkedIn, Twitter and perhaps Facebook. You’re building your network and broadening that connection to social media channels is too important to miss. 

Ready for more ideas on how to use follow-up to close more sales?

Need more customers? Download free! “From Cold to Sold”, the ebook with 17 secrets for getting more customers.

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Now that you know the 6 steps to turn your follow-up into gold, go out there and convert more sales!

Do you have suggestions for making the follow up after making a new connection even better? Bring it! I’d love to see it, so share your comments below.

What my dog taught me about social media

What my dog taught me about social media marketing
What my dog taught me about social media marketing

Ever noticed how dogs behave so much better in an off leash park than on leash anywhere else? Social media is like an off leash park for humans. Free range to say what we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. No leashes constricting us!

What is it about an off leash environment that makes dogs get along so well? Dogs adhere to an ancient and universal set of guidelines for interacting in off leash encounters. Dogs don’t discuss the guidelines ahead or time or sign waivers before they engage in off leash play. (Their humans might have to, but they don’t.) If people were to adhere to a commonly accepted set of guidelines for engaging with each other on social media, we could enjoy substantially reduced: hurt feelings from inflammatory statements, offending remarks, escalation and online bullying. It might even help us move closer to world peace. Certainly, the level of civility would improve. 🙂

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So what guidelines do dogs use that humans could adopt for more civil social media engagement?

  1. Enter social situations with respect. Healthy dogs approach a new social situation with submissive energy and body language. They don’t enter a free range social situation like an off leash dog park with aggressive or dominating behavior. People who demonstrate a healthy respect for others, rather than blasting social channels with bombastic posts gain the respect of others. As a result, they gain more followers and repel fewer.
  1. Get to know others first. How relieved are we that the polite way for humans to get to know each other does not emulate dogs?!? Butt sniffing would be SO embarrassing! Fortunately, finding out more about another person is as easy as asking them.
  1. Accept our differences. Alaskan Malamute, Dachshund, Lab or mutt, dogs take each other at canine face value. Different isn’t bad to dogs in a free range area; it’s good. Different smells, different sizes, different shapes, different everything. Except that the general guidelines for polite doggy behavior is the same and dogs who don’t go by those rules are shunned. Dogs have no reference for breedism. If people can learn to treat those with differing political views, religion or opinion with this same regard, the world would indeed be a more peaceful place.
  1. Invite others to play nicely. The adorable and universal body language for dogs who want to play is the same across all breeds. Front feet down, hind quarters and tail up and open relaxed face. No teeth baring or growling, no fur standing up on their backs. Dogs who want to play will engage with the pups who show they want to have fun. If a dog doesn’t respond to the invitation with the same playful body language, the other dog moves on to invite someone else.

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  1. No means no. When a dog is uninterested or is through playing, they adopt a “No thank you” stance. They look away or walk off. Persistently playful dogs (@mylabs) might attempt to engage this dog in play another time or two. But once they get the message, the pup will move on to someone else.

Seems to me, our best friends can provide us with an excellent example for how to treat each other in our own off leash areas – social media.