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Grilling season is in full swing

Time to sell the fun of outdoor living

Donna Myers -- Casual Living, July 20, 2010

You're selling grills, accessories and outdoor rooms - not just products! The end game is "fun outdoors with family and friends," which should be a pretty easy sale. Plus you'll not only provide customers with the products, you'll educate them about each one as well. In the process, their new knowledge and enthusiasm will lead to a healthy profit margin.
Employees play an important part in your image/brand campaign. They help guide consumers in the buying process. So it is critical that you lavish on them the same care and attention you give to your customer.
Show your interest in the customer and ask lots of questions about their lifestyle, wants and expectations. This will show you personalize your interest in them to find the products that will best meet their needs.
Most companies are striving to get back to work under normal selling tactics, climate and pricing. After a stressful several years, no one knew what to expect and they were always testing to find out where the bottom of the pricing range really was. Now is the time to sharpen your skills and be precise about your objectives.
Train your salespeople to think of themselves as problem solvers, thereby ensuring their success. Explain how your product will make the customer's life easier and more comfortable based on what they've told you they want. Refocus them when you see a spark of interest and, if possible, step them up a level.
Try to outline a customer profile: Who should need what you want to sell? This will ensure that your salesperson stays on track instead of wandering, but it will also keep the customer focused instead of wandering into new priorities every time a desired feature surfaces.
We are all more focused on the basics these days so be certain you've chosen your strongest attributes to emphasize. Keep a central profile on each of your prospects and you'll sound friendly and knowledgeable when the customer comes in to look at future products. He or she will be flattered that you remember so much from their earlier visit.

Revitalize and Rethink
n Ask friends and colleagues for references which will give you instant credibility.
n Why are you hesitant? You know you have a great product.
n If someone bought a grill from you years ago, suggest a new specialty grill. For example, a portable grill to take along on car trips, a smoker such as a ceramic kamado which requires virtually no watching but turns out exquisite fare or a high tech grill when you're pushed for time.
There are endless grills on the market, many with intriguing new features. Keep in mind that in a technology-saturated world at least some high-tech features will help your sales pitch. But an emotionally compelling pitch will reach your prospect from a different standpoint.
Time is the most precious asset of a salesperson. Now more than ever focus your salesperson on their real target audience and refocus as needed.
Increase sales by getting back to basics to improve your company's sales performance. This requires management that communicates well with salespeople and treats consumers with respect and enthusiasm.
Whether it is subtle or glaringly apparent, people expect more features for less money today. Is this reasonable? Probably not, but in an economy that has been struggling for several years, it is a reality.
They still need a sales pitch. Why should they want this product? What is special about it? Don't forget to talk about the especially good cooking quality and features. Generate enthusiasm for the product.
The cost of selling to a new customer as opposed to re-selling an existing one is six times higher. Many a sale is lost simply because the salesperson doesn't ask for the sale. Post closing activities for all staff to help encourage them that there is business out there.
Remember good salespeople have the ability to respond quickly and positively to resistance. Part of a good training program must include training for this and the ability to skillfully, respectfully and confidently handle objections, skepticism and indifference. Role playing is a good way to accomplish this.
One of your most important tasks as a manager is to ensure you have the best possible sales staff. Product knowledge is very important. You want to have salespeople not order-takers.
It is vital that you show your respect and admiration for best performers and see that they are acknowledged both internally and externally. This is the time of year when it is important that training be firmly in place with many key barbecue promotions yet ahead of us.

Donna Myers, president/CEO of DHM Group in Colts Neck, N.J., is a well-known promoter of the grill industry.

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