I'm going to let you in on a little secret.
It's business sacrilege.
I don't pursue every sale.
Oh, I'm open to every sale, but I don't pursue every sale.
I figured out after many years of business that I want the customers who want me, not the ones I have to aggressively pursue. I don't want the customers who don't want me.
If I lose 10% of my sales, but shed 90% of the aggravation, it's a fair deal.
Sales aren't everything. Job satisfaction is at least as important. Bringing enthusiasm to work every day. Especially if you want to last not just a few years, but decades -- a career.
I've always said, burn-out is almost equal in danger to not making money.
Let me give you an example. I had one of my tech friends in the store yesterday (who always seem puzzled that I can't figure out my POS) and while we were talking a Mom and a teenage girl came in.
"Do you have any manga?" the girl asks.
I point to my 3000 volumes. "Right over there. By the way, if you buy 2 you can get the 3rd one free."
"Wow!" the girl exclaims. "Neat!"
So the friend I'm talking to looks at me with a thumb's up smile.
But inside, I've already done the calculation. Because I've done this calculation all summer long. The reason manga is on sale, is because I've given up on it. I've quit ordering all but the best-sellers.
So inside, I've already figured there is a 95% chance this girl won't buy anything, despite my offer. So I keep talking to the friend.
Sure enough, 15 minutes later, the girl and Mom quietly leave.
Why didn't I go after them? you ask. Because I know from experience it probably wouldn't have mattered.
I tell you what. I'll give you this: If I aggressively pursue every customer who walks in the door, dote on them if you will, butter them up, talk them up, ferret out their interests, explain and cajole, and on and on....I probably would end up at roughly 10% more sales.
For 90% more effort.
One of the advantages that new businesses have is they still have the energy to do that. They are bright eyed and frisky and bushy tailed and they haven't quite figured out that they will have to triage if they don't want to wear themselves out.
Another example. As I started writing this, a 12 year old buy came in on his own and started looking around.
"If you need any help, let me know," I say.
"Thanks," he says.
As I'm writing this, he's looking around. He asks, "How much are the Star Wars figures?"
"They are all individually priced," I answer.
"Oh, now I see that...."
He wanders around for another couple of minutes, and starts heading to the door. Should I follow him, say, "Hey, anything you were looking for we didn't have? I know where everything is, so just let me know."
Sometimes I do that.
For 12 year old boys coming into my store alone, I don't. Because I know that 90% of the time they won't buy anything.
But what about the 10% of the time they do? Well, 90% of the time that they do, they'll actually buy something anyway, even if I'm not talking to them, chatting them up. They'll pick out what they want, and come up to the counter.
My senses are very finely tuned at this point. I know within a minute or two if you are likely to spend money. I try not to throw up any roadblocks, in case I'm wrong.
The most important thing, I think, is to have an intuitively organized store, the smooths the transition between browser and buyer. Make it as easy as possible for the customer to find what they want, and be open to any questions.
But pouncing on them, doing the whole salesman thing, while it might bump up short term sales, in the end just would wear me out, and wear out my welcome with the customer.
3 days ago