Apple is the most valuable company on the planet. It operates more than 500 retail locations worldwide that are considered the gold standard for retail operations, generating higher sales per square foot than any other store anywhere. Why is Apple so much more successful than anyone else? You could argue that Apple makes really cool products that people want to buy. Their stores are fun to visit. You can play with Apple products and no one will bother year. Architecturally, the open, well-lit environments create the right tone. Those are big reasons, but store design and merchandise are not the only reasons. The other critical component behind Apple’s retail success is its customer service and the lessons that Apple teaches are applicable to kitchen and bath showrooms.
Apple does not teach its staff to sell per se. Instead, they are instructed to solve customers’ problems. Translate this approach to kitchen and bath showrooms, advise your sales team to avoid focusing on features and benefits. Unless you have a truly unique product, chances are that there are competitive offerings at showrooms down the street with comparable features and benefit. Similar to Apple’s approach, your sales team should focus on solving customer problems. You solve your customers problems by active listening to their wants, desires and dreams and determining what your prospective clients really want. Apple’s training manuals lay out its approach to customer interaction by using Apple as an acronym:
Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome.
Probe politely to understands the customer’s needs.
Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
That’s not bad advice for sales consultants. Direct your sales team to determine prospects’ needs and explain how your showroom can meet and exceed them. It requires understanding what is important to visitors.
Another key contributor to Apple’s success is that store employees are generally fans of the product. Their passion is genuine. And Apple spends the time during the interviewing process to determine if a prospective employee is an Apple fan. A challenge for many showrooms, especially those that cater to high-end customers, is that the sales team may not be able to afford what they sell and design. They may not believe that a custom cabinet is worth the investment. You can’t effectively sell anything that you don’t believe it.
Perhaps Steve Job’s was most prophetic when he explained the concept behind the first Apple store that opened in Tysons Corner, VA. Jobs said, “People don’t want to buy personal computers anymore, they want to know what to do with them.” People don’t simply want to renovate their kitchens or baths. They want to know how to make their living experience more enjoyable. What are you and your team doing to enhance the living experience?