It doesn't matter if you are selling electronics, life insurance or clothes, many of the same rules of sales apply across the board. If you think about it, you don't buy the products and services that you do because they are the best (even though sometimes they are) but rather, you buy things that connect to you on a certain level. Brand recognition is a big part of it, and, knowing that, companies are careful to associate their brand, their products and their services with a larger image or lifestyle. When a customer finds a product that resonates with their values, they are much more likely to buy it or to do business with that particular company or sales agent.
There are many examples, as certain brands have a proven track record of customer loyalty. For example, Apple products may not always be the best products or the most functional ( even though many time they are) but they have a very strong, loyal customer base. One of the ways they keep that loyal customer base is by understanding their customer and allowing their customer to understand them and get a feel for who they are as a company and what their corporate culture is. Knowing what their customer needs and wants gives them the tools to exceed their customer's expectations. To succeed in a sales environment, you have to get to know your client and find ways to build a relationship with them. This way, when they think about who to buy from, they couldn't imagine not being able to buy your product.
One company that is a shinning example of this is Zappos. Zappos started as an idea that Nick Swinmurn had to sell shoes on the internet. He found out that 5% of shoe sales where happening through catalogs and he wanted to design a company that could offer shoes online for a good price and give the customers the best service possible. Swinmurn contacted an acquaintance who had recently sold his internet company to Microsoft. The friend, Tony Hsieh invested $1 million in the fledgling company and then ended up getting more and more involved in the daily operations. Eventually, he became CEO of the company. Zappos went from making no sales at all to grossing over $1 billion in merchandise sales each year. And along with their financial successes, Zappos made the Fortune magazines list of Best Companies to Work For. Almost a year ago, Zappos was purchased by Amazon in a deal that was close to $1.2 billion in combined cash and stocks ( this figure includes the price of the Kindle that each Zappos employee received along with a bonus equal to 40% of their yearly salary). By anyone's estimation, this company is the picture of success.
So how do they do it? What is the secret to making that type of sales numbers? Is it good advertising? Possibly, Zappos has great commercials, but their best TV marketing campaigns began after they were purchased by Amazon. However, Zappos has proven to be brilliant at using social media to promote both their products and their culture. In fact, not only does CEO Tony Hsieh have a Twitter ( by the way, he has over 1.6 million followers. More than either CBS News or the NFL), but also each employee has a Twitter account as well. Employees are encouraged to communicate with and engage with their customers via Twitter. The company even has in-office campaigns to rank employees based on their number of Twitter followers. By utilizing social networking right down to the individual employee, they are able to put a face, a name and a personality into the business transactions.
And that, is the key to their success. When customers feel like they know the person they are buying their products from and that the person knows them, it build an amazing type of customer loyalty. It is the same feeling as being able to say “Oh yeah, I know a guy who sells that. He is a lot of fun and always makes sure to go the extra mile for me.”. In today's world, customers are too often put in the position of doing business with nameless, faceless corporations and when they need to speak to the company, they often end up talking to a machine or a person in a different country who is answering phones for many different companies. Even if the anonymous company is offering the same product at a cheaper price, customers still will chose to go with the company they feel the connection to. As a client, I figure that I work really hard to make my money and I want to enjoy spending it. Not just enjoy the product.
Do you shop at certain stores or are you loyal to a particular brand based primarily on the feeling that you and the company know each other? Let me know in the comments.
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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.