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Tips on Selling

Learn how to identify the blind spots.
Learn how to identify the blind spots.

Blind spots that kill business growth

The things that retailers don’t do can play an important role in increasing sales and improving their businesses. IAN ALTMAN reports on how to identify and avoid potential pitfalls.

One of the most common questions I get asked when speaking at events is, “What can I do to grow our business?” You might think that I immediately jump into issues about sales training or messaging.

Though it’s possible to achieve minor improvements with sales tactics or messaging alone, I have realised that the larger issue is activities that harm business growth.

Retailers are constantly looking to improve their businesses but they’re not always aware of the blind spots that can kill sales growth.

Businesses can improve dramatically if they get their messages and marketing mix right but they can also improve if they just avoid a few small potential pitfalls that stand between them and success.

Blind Spot 1: Customer experience

The easiest way to grow is often the most overlooked element.

What percentage of expenses do retailers allocate to sales? How about marketing? How about customer service and retention?

In most retail businesses, service and retention suffer from benign neglect.

In fact, digital marketing advisory firm Convince And Convert recently reported that less than 2 per cent of every dollar spent on marketing is spent on customer service and retention.

Blind Spot 2: Attract with focus

When retailers are struggling, they often move to increase sales activity or volume.

If a salesperson converts one in 40 prospects each week, then he or she might think the answer is to speak with more prospects – if they speak with 60 potential customers, there’ll be more conversions, right?

It’s not likely.

If the message is weak, increasing the number of people who hear that message won’t result in more sales. Instead, retailers need to think about what their sales staff can do to attract the right potential customers to the business.

This often means narrowing the focus, not broadening it. Ultimately, this includes ignoring those potential clients who are not a good fit for the business.

Sales staff need to focus on the situation a customer might be facing and be empathetic toward that situation. Ask what can be done via marketing that would attract these customers to the business.

If a car made an odd, clicking sound every time it turned right, the owner might first turn to Google for information and search ‘right turn clicking sound’.

This is because people search by describing the problem they are trying to solve; however, on most websites, retailers talk about what businesses do rather than why customers need them.

Marcus Sheridan, CEO of TheSales, teaches a philosophy: “They ask. You answer. Be the best teacher in the world at whatever it is that you do.”

To quickly attract the right customers, retailers have to build trust by sharing ideas.

Blind Spot 3: The 'real' finish line

Imagine, for a moment, that a store attracts all the right customers and makes the sales. Is that thefinish line? Did the store “win the race”?

Making sales is only the first step.

“Businesses can improve dramatically if they get their messages and marketing mix right but they can also improve if they just avoid a few small potential pitfalls.”

If a customer leaves with a purchase that wasn’t exactly what they wanted, they’ll blame the store.

These disgruntled customers can become toxic clients who can suck the life out of any business. What this means is that all retailers must focus on ensuring their sales teams can deliver results.

In an interview with John Jantsch on the Grow My Revenue business podcast, Jantsch discussed the importance of recognising that a sale is not complete until the client achieves the results they were expecting.

Imagine how a customer would react if sales staff asked them what it would take for them to feel their visit was a success rather than whether or not they’re going to buy the product.

Blind Spot 4: Lack of alignment

Even the most skilled companies can overlook the fourth blind spot: when one functional department decides to impact how a store does business and the other departments struggle to get on board.

For example, marketing aims to attract the ‘right’ type of customer to the business but then the sales team focuses only upon the sale.

In another scenario, perhaps marketing and sales both do well but the back office lacks
a plan to ensure customer success. Without proper buy-in and alignment, companies can struggle for years despite good intentions.

Retailers that can align all of these areas will achieve dramatic results and those who know the blind spots can avoid some of the roadblocks to growing their businesses.

Ian Altman

Contributor • Grow My Revenue

Ian Altman is the CEO of Grow My Revenue and an advisor and speaker on sales and business development. Visit:


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