Friday, October 20, 2006

Retail Sales Training - Are Policies Hurting Your Business?

A customer’s purchase is overcharged by $10.00. The store policy is clear… “No cash refunds” so the sales associate refuses to issue the refund even though the mistake was hers. The customer was told he would have to accept a store credit or wait for a cheque to be issued by head office.

A customer wants to exchange a sale item she bought three hours earlier but the store policy states, “All sales are final.” The employee adamantly refuses to exchange the item for the customer.

What is the likelihood that these customers will buy from those stores again? As a customer, do you like being told, “That’s our policy?” I highly doubt it.

We all know that policies are instituted for a reason – to protect the company and reduce their liability. However, in many situations, policies are put into place to manage a tiny portion of the business – people who look for ways to exploit your business or who try to get something for nothing. Unfortunately, these policies are designed to control the minority rather than the majority.

There is no question that some people will take advantage of liberal and flexibly policies. However, my experience has taught me that these individuals are far and few between. Case in point; when I published my first book, I offered an unconditional money-back guarantee to anyone who did not feel the concepts would help them improve their business. My publisher was distraught about this decision, telling me that I was setting myself to be taken advantage of. Later, I extended this policy to the products I started selling on-line. In the last 4 years I have sold over 7000 copies of my book and many thousand of dollars of other products but I have only issued 2 refunds. Was the risk worth the reward? Absolutely!

Here is another example. One of my first clients expressed concern about doing business with an unknown vendor (me). When she asked what would happen if she wasn’t satisfied with the program I was going to develop for her, I told her that she wouldn’t pay. I even agreed to include this in my contract with her. Her company is still a client, almost four years later.
Here is something else to consider. When your policies change – which is not uncommon in today’s business world – don’t force existing customers to adhere to the new policy. At the very least give them an grace period to help them adjust to the new procedures.

The easier you make it for someone to do business with you, the more business they will generate, providing of course, you offer a good product at a fair price. I firmly believe that flexible policies can help a business gain more market share.

Many people are hesitant to do business with someone they have not purchased from in the past. And for good reason, they have been sold goods and services that have not lived up to their expectations. Reduce their concern and hesitation by making it easy and risk-free to buy from you. Evaluate the policies you have implemented over the years and look at them from a customer’s perspective. They may be costing you business.


No comments: