Recently I was drawn into helping a neighbor’s daughter with a garage sale. She’s an entrepreneur at heart and heading off to college in the fall. She needs to save money for tuition, books and spending money, so she was collecting ‘donations’ for a garage sale. Well, I got sucked in. Not only did I give her a few things for her sale, but we got to talking about being an entrepreneur and my old stuff turned into free advice.
Helping her with her garage sale taught me, well…reminded me, about the dynamics of selling. Selling is something I do all day every day. It is part of the fiber of my being, but teaching someone how to sell is an eye opening experience.
At Qiigo, we work in franchising. Our business touches both the corporate office and the local offices. What I’ve learned is that whether you are selling a new franchise location, selling your product or service, or selling your stuff at a garage sale, the lessons are the same.
- It’s What They’re Buying. While helping my neighbor to gather items for her sale, she was quick to pass over some things she thought wouldn’t sell. Things that had no “value” to her were some of the quickest things to go. In sales, it’s important to remember that what counts isn’t what you’re selling, but what they’re buying.
- You Can’t Skip the Advertising. Whether your business is a garage sale or a franchise location on Main Street, if you don’t advertise the only traffic you get is the random person who happens to drive by. You need to spread the word that your business is open. Invite people in. Tell them what you’re selling and why they should visit. Without a little promotion, they’ll just keep on driving by!
- Confusion = No Sale. When you put on a garage sale, it’s tempting to just put everything out for people to dig through, but if you take the time to organize and categorize your stuff, you’ll sell more. The same is true for your business. View your product through the eyes of a customer who has never been in your store before. Are they impressed? Can they easily find everything they need? Is it clean, neat and organized? If not, get to it! Make the most of your merchandise!
- No Trust, No Transaction. Without trust there is no transaction. While some items at my neighbor’s garage sale weren’t in like new condition, that’s to be expected. She was up front and honest about blemishes and people appreciated that. When you try to deceive your customer, they know and they walk. It’s the same in business. When you build honest relationships with your customers, they are more likely to make a purchase and to make repeat purchases. People buy from people they like and trust.
- Stories Sell. Connect with Your Customer. At the garage sale or at your business, stories sell. What’s the story behind your product or service? How can you connect with your customers by engaging them with your brand? The more connected they are to your brand, the more they’ll want to purchase your product or service. Tell the tale of your brand.
- Keep Learning. The fundamentals of selling never change. You need to be aware of your customer’s pace and not push the sale too hard or you’re likely to push the customer away. If you make a misstep, view it as learning experience and do better the next time. Stay connected to your customers and you’ll always be learning new ways to improve your sales process.
At the end of the day, my neighbor did a great job at her garage sale. She’s definitely has an entrepreneurial spirit and could end up being someone’s franchisee (after college). Let’s hope she doesn’t forget these fundamentals that so many small businesses miss along the way.