Before salespeople can be information sources for customers, they must become knowledgeable about the merchandise. They must know the three merchandise W’s — what, where and when. Know what items the store sells including the brands and varieties in size and quality; where in the store the items are located; and when items are on sale, out-of-stock or shipments are expected. For example, someone looking for a rose will appreciate knowing that the store has several different types of roses in stock, in different price ranges, colors and for different uses.
Learning the merchandise requires only a few minutes of concentrated effort each day. At the start of every work day, do a quick inventory to check for changes that may have occurred since you last worked. Also, take time to familiarize yourself with current advertising campaigns. Customers appreciate salespeople who are knowledgeable about the store’s products and services, and can answer questions when they are asked without having to search for the answer in a stock list or go down on their hands and knees to inspect the shelves. Many sales have been lost because an uncaring salesperson was unfamiliar with a product or service. Customers usually don’t have time to wait or would rather shop where salespeople appear to be knowledgeable.
- Know what merchandise or services the store offers
- Know where it is located
- Know when it is available
Product Features Versus Product Benefits
People rarely buy things because of the product itself; instead, they buy the product because of what it can do for them. Product features are qualities and characteristics of the merchandise itself. On the other hand, product benefits are what the features will do for the buyer to improve the buyer’s welfare (People purchase product benefits, not product features). Remember that product benefits and features vary according to a customer’s need. What are benefits to one person may not be important to someone else.
- Listen to find out what the customer considers to be product benefits and features
- Sell the customer the product benefit supplemented with the product features