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  • Upscale Selling, Part 2

    More than make the sale, your task, and that of your employees, is to satisfy the needs of your customers and of your business.

    Customer Types

    Look for inherent weaknesses. For example, have you ever considered that most of your employees won't be in the same economic tier as your customers? If the salesperson can't afford most of the products they sell, some may even believe that these products are overpriced or are poor values.

    Teach them that many of your customers earn $50,000 or more a year and have different financial spending habits than they might. They are more interested in filling their needs than getting a bargain price, for example.

    Also, teach your employees to look for clues to help steer the sales approach. Dress, speech, knowledge and service expectations all play a role. This does not mean you shouldn't show top-of-the-line items to everyone, but characteristics can offer clues to a person's buying patterns.

    In some areas, the gentleman in worn-out jeans may have just come from his 50,000-acre ranch, and the well-dressed executive may be looking for a bargain.

    Product Knowledge

    Identify the top-of-the-line products you want sold. Make a list, and then train specifically on these products' benefits. One vase may look much like another to some customers (and salespeople). That's why you need to help them both become knowledgeable about the different lines, quality and benefits of the products you carry.

    Regardless of how well you currently handle sales, you can improve. Make the investment in your sales skills both in-person and on the phone.

    Display to Sell

    How many customers left your shop today with more than the one item for which they came? If your answer is "not many," you're losing a lot of impulse sales.

    Customers need help buying. And you are well positioned to offer that help by displaying your merchandise better.

    Silent Selling

    What do your customers see when they enter your shop? If the center of attention is a refrigerated case and a counter, you're missing out on really big profit opportunities. Having medium to low-price add-on sales, highly visible makes customers' shopping experiences easier and more complete.

    When customers walk through your door, the first thing they should see is attractive displays of new products, gift items and seasonal products. They should also see several higher priced, higher profit items.

    One flower shop featured a beautiful bamboo birdcage priced at $125. It was displayed in the front window with a floral arrangement. Two were sold the first day to ecstatic customers.

    Another shop displays permanent arrangements that start at $195. They look beautiful in the shop and sell at a rate of about three per month.

    Signs Help

    Interestingly, when a consumer is deciding to buy a luxury or upscale item, he or she looks for a special reason to buy. You can provide that reason with a small sign conveying a benefit or two about the product.

    Always use distinctive, professional looking shop signs. Use your computer and laser printer. For a more unique look, use high-quality hand lettering with line art.

    Place high profit items at eye-level whenever possible. You'll sell more. Change displays frequently. Keep them clean. Price all merchandise. Feature new items prominently and always in beautiful settings.

    Tell a Story

    Customers enjoy reading about products — where they are made, how they are made, where they are grown and so on. They will happily read even several sentences if they are interesting. The popularity of catalogs attests to this.

    "One-of-a-kind vases uniquely blended with rare silk protea work with traditional and contemporary dÿcor"

    Verbal descriptions should also be given to reinforce signs. You need to tell more than a person would learn by just seeing the item. Something you might say:

    "At first I thought these large silk protea too unusual for a traditional arrangement. I experimented and discovered how fabulous they look with these handmade vases. There's only a few, and we don't expect to get more this year."

    This kind of personal statement will be even more effective because the customer knows you, and if you say it's good, that's a powerful recommendation.

    Lead Sales with Lighting

    Take a trip to a good department store just to examine the way they use lighting to display merchandise. You'll discover hundreds of lights in various forms throughout the store. Hot spots here and there punctuate displays and highlight merchandise.

    While you likely can't afford to install the kind of lighting you'll see, learn from their techniques. Even if your shop has fluorescent ceiling fixtures, you can add spots. Track lighting works for direct light on one specific area.

    Fluorescent lights can be adjusted by using paracube louvers instead of the solid plastic sheets that come with fixtures. While they slightly reduce the total amount of light, they shoot light directly on merchandise and the fixture itself is less noticeable.

    Purchase a few track lighting bars to illuminate your seasonal displays and more expensive merchandise. You may spend a few hundred dollars but it's an investment you could recoup within a few months from additional sales.

    Active and Passive

    Upscale products can be highly profitable, but they'll rarely sell themselves. Unless you give them the attention they deserve, you'll end up with too much money tied up in slow-moving inventory.

    Through sales training and in-shop signage, you can substantially boost your sales of high-ticket, high profit merchandise. Start slowly and build. This is one area in which every florist can improve.

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