The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Monday, February 01, 2016
Volume 21 | # 497
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Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything. » Johann von Goethe

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

While thumbing through a recent issue of Fortune Magazine, I came upon a column by Dinah Eng with a title that brought a smile (more of a smirk) to my face.  The column about a high-end kitchen and bath retailer is entitled “Does Joy Help You Sell?”

I think I began reading the column mostly to chuckle at things like the company’s “23 elements of joy”.  

That said, the fact that the company Pirch appears to be performing well hints that some of the things they do probably make sense.  

One of the tenets in Pirch’s manifesto (yes, they call it a manifesto) made me sigh.  They encourage employees to “Play more, think less.”  

I smiled thinking how many managers’ heads would explode if I ever suggested that to their teams.

However, once I got past the general “Kumbaya” vibe of the story, I realized that I was likely being too cynical by half.  At the core of this retailer’s sales philosophies is a belief I agree with and have preached about for years.  

Customers are far more likely to purchase from a company that makes them feel valued and appreciated.

While their concept of “teaching empathy as a business model” sounds a bit touchy-feely, I know that there is actually a bit of science behind it.  

We things called “humans” have a desire for reciprocal relationships that draw us to people and places that make us feel welcome and valued.

As important, frontline employees tend to treat customers with the same levels of respect and sincerity they feel they receive from their employers.  

So, yes, encouraging employees to “live joyfully” (their phrase) actually does have business strategy aspects to it.

And when you’re selling things like $20,000 granite bathtubs, you probably want potential customers “feeling the love.”  I’m just saying.

I do think they may oversell how much their teams “don’t sell.”  I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that their most productive employees are those who treat customers really, really well… and, oh… also ask them for the business.  I’m just saying.
While we don’t want high-pressure sales environments, most of the customers we interact with aren’t going to truly consider a product or service until we (politely) ask them to.  When we create environments that make them feel valued, they’re far more likely to say “Yes”.  
Oh, joy!   

The Power of Showing Up

I’ve always had a soft spot for small business people who make up for a lack of marketing budgets with smart ideas and hustle.  In a world of instantly available smartphone searches, I cannot tell you how many contractors I’ve hired because they left fliers or business cards on my front door.

 Anyone leaving a flier or business card on my door is showing me what he or she does and that my home is in his or her market.  When there are numerous providers of similar services for similar prices, I pick the folks who have already shown they can show up at my front door.  
I appreciate hustle.
In that vein, I found myself completely impressed with a small operation a few weeks ago at a type of event I had never been to before.  My older son was chosen to perform in a regional choir.  
I kidded with friends that I was accustomed to sports and tournaments… but had no experience with being a “choir dad”.  (Do they tailgate before concerts?)
About an hour before the performance, I saw three folks setting up display tables.  I learned that they were a non-affiliated group selling Regional Choir shirts with the kids’ names printed on the back.
One of the boxes they pulled out also had plaques in it.  I figured these were generic plaques.  But when I got closer, I saw that they had produced an individual plaque for each choir member.  The plaques and shirts were $20 each… or the combo was $35.  
I joked with my wife that it’s difficult to see your kid’s name on a plaque and say, “Nah…toss it in the trash.”  You’re gonna buy it.
By the time we departed, I estimate they had sold 80 or more of the 100 plaques and at least as many shirts.  They will pop off the nameplates of the unsold ones and repurpose the wood plaques at another event in the future.  Whatever that cost them was more than made up for with increased sales.
The easy thing would have been to show up with order forms and only make plaques for people who placed an order.  I’d likely have passed on the offer.  I’m guessing most would have as well.  
But putting in the extra effort and showing up at the right place at the right time made the sale(s) for them.
Whether it’s a few feet out into a grocery store or a few miles away at their place of business, never underestimate the power of actually showing up and asking folks for their business.   
In a high-tech world, low-tech hustle and effort still stands out.

The mechanics of industry is easy. The real engine is the people: Their motivation and direction. » Ken Gilbert

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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