I’m not a business person. I’m not even someone who likes to shop. However, I do buy things. When we were at the Mushroom Festival this past weekend, we saw probably hundreds of vendor tables. I saw more salespeople in one day than I usually see in a year, and I noticed some things that I think should be obvious to anyone who sells a product or service, but apparently these things aren’t obvious to all sales people. The first thing I noticed is that some vendors smiled, but others did not. I honestly was not very interested in approaching the tables that were manned by unsmiling people. If the products were intriguing enough, I sometimes stopped and glanced at them, but ended up not buying.
At one table, a woman was selling Tupperware. She didn’t smile, and actually seemed irritated when another woman and I asked her for her business card. None of her products had prices on them. I was not going to spend the time asking her how much several different products were (especially since she wasn’t very pleasant), so I decided to just walk away.
At other tables, the sellers were smiling, and some even offered free samples. We bought marinated mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, honey, fudge, and maple syrup. Every single one of those vendors gave us free samples, smiled, and happily offered up their business cards or had them already sitting out on their tables. We also bought prepared foods, and all of those – lemonade, funnel cake, breaded mushrooms, pierogies– were also from pleasant people who smiled.
Where I work, we don’t sell anything (products or services), but we still greet people who come in, and ask how we can help them. That’s something that is even more important when you’re trying to make a sale.
Customers like to be informed. That’s why I think it’s also good business to have prices either directly on the products, on a small sign near the items, or listed on a large sign that’s easily visible. Many people are uncomfortable asking about prices, for one of several reasons. Some are embarrassed, some are shy, and some just don’t want to have to continuously ask about every product that interests them. It’s kind of awkward when you have to ask a price, and it turns out to be beyond your price range and/or much higher than anticipated. If the vendor isn’t smiling, it’s that much worse for the potential buyer.
Sampling is a great idea for food products. Not many people want to invest money into a purchase if they aren’t sure they’re going to like it, and it’s not like you can usually return food, especially once it’s been tasted!
Customer service is very crucial to the survival of every business. It’s very important, and good business practice, to make sure to be energetic, smiling, and have good communication skills. That will bring in more customers, and lead to more sales. I know there are many much more technical and complex facets to running a business, but it’s important to start with the basics. You might be surprised how simple, basic principals can be highly effective and lead to growth and success in your business.