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How to Start a Cell Phone Store - Part 3
continued from Part II
To read How to Create Your Own Cell Phone Store Part 2, click on the link.
The Sales Process
The sales process in the cellular phone business involves a few steps, and each step contributes to convert a prospect into your customer. The process outlined below will be in the context of retail sales, where you are selling your phones at your store.
The Retail Sales Strategy
Retail sales strategy involves six processes to effectively convert a prospect into one of your customers. The six processes are:
First impression is always the most important, and this is your first step when a customer walks into your store. Welcome your customers by greeting them, and letting them know that you are there to help. A cheerful, "hello" is always a nice thing to have at your store.
Rapport is a powerful tool to get a customer to buy from you. It is a small personal relationship that you build with a customer in a short period of time that will allow the customer to trust you and buy from you. You must always build rapport.
After the initial greeting of your customer and building rapport, it is time to listen to them to see what their needs are. You'll ask leading questions to know what they are looking for. Be friendly, and listen carefully during the process to see how you can be of help to them.
Listening to your customers should have helped you to understand what their exact needs are. If you have enough product knowledge, you will be able to provide solutions based on what your store offers. Educate them on the features, benefits and costs related to the solution you can offer.
Selling to your customers and closing on them means that you will need to take the next step for them to purchase the product from you. You will prompt the sale by using closing techniques. In addition, you will attempt to cross-sell and up sell other solutions that you offer.
The last step involved in the sales process is making your customers become an independent customer. An independent customer is one that will be able to service their own needs without having to come back to you. You will talk to your customers about the phone features, online accounts, voice mail, and customer service phone numbers they can call to try to resolve any situations that they may be faced with in the future.
Now we will talk about each process in detail.
Step 1: Welcome
Giving a good first impression to your customers is the first step into a successful sale. Make your customers feel welcome in your store by greeting them as they walk into your store. Welcome your customers immediately by saying simple line such as:
"Hello! Welcome to ABC Wireless! How may we help you today?" or "Hello, I'm Bob. How may I help you?"
By giving your customer a warm greeting, they feel much more at ease to start up a conversation with you to start the sales process. Be sure to greet all of your customers as they walk into your door even if you are busy. If you can't get to them right away, let them know by saying,
"Hello! Welcome to ABC Wireless! I will be right with you after I finish with this customer. Meanwhile, do you have any quick questions that I can answer for you?"
By acknowledging your customers, they will be far more inclined to wait to talk to you rather then to go to the next cell phone store that is not as busy.
It is always good to train yourself and your staff about some of the professionalism involved in retail sales. You and your staff are now a professional in the cellular phone business, and your customers come in to get your expert advice. A professional in retail sales should expect to have the following characteristics.
- Always smile, and welcome your customers. Let them know that you are there to help. Create an atmosphere with the customer that will allow them to freely ask any questions that they have in mind. Be enthusiastic no matter what is going on in your professional or personal life.
- When you speak to your customers, be sure to speak to them with respect. This means to be polite with them, understand their needs, and look directly in their eye. Your body language and attitude will directly translate into how serious you are in wanting to assist your customers.
- If possible ask for their name, and use it while speaking with your customers. By saying their names, customers will feel more connected to you and your store.
- Avoid any slang. Also avoid comments or jokes that are political, racial, or sexual, and insulting your customers.
- When interacting with the customer, come out from behind the counter to show around your store if necessary. Maintain a physical distance that is of comfort to your customers. Each culture differs as to the amount of physical space needed. Try to monitor this as you speak to your customers. Get close to them, but not too close.
- Look professional. Be properly dressed with good personal hygiene. Disallow chewing gum and wearing excessive amount of jewelry at your store. Choose your staff appearance by figuring out how you want to be treated if you walk into a retail store.
This first process of "Welcome your Customers" is all about making your customers feel at ease at your store. It is all about having a great first impression.
Step 2: Build Rapport
The next step involves starting to have actual conversations with your customers. One of the most important points in this step is to build rapport with the customer. A rapport is a small personal relationship that you create that provides you to have a closer personal contact with your customers. By building rapport, you are able to obtain trust from your customer to make the sales process much easier. They will listen to your advice and will trust your judgment on what product will be best for them.
To establish rapport, you will need to treat your customers like individuals, and that you understand their independent needs.
Steps to building rapport involve these steps.
You will need to express concern and interest in what the customer tells you with sincerity. This includes understanding their interests, facts, and current conditions. Don't be afraid to ask questions to find out more about them. Depending on the customer, a small chat about everything other than the sale may help to build rapport with them. Have curiosity about the customer.
Act with sincerity about their concerns or interests. Use non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, hand movements, body movements to act sincere with them. Speak to them with a comfortable speech tone for the customer to be comfortable with you as well. Be sure that you stay real to yourself and don't over exaggerate anything. If you overdo anything, the customer will likely know.
Be energetic and enthusiastic when dealing with your customers. Work so that the customer can feel your sincerity about wanting to help them out with their problem. You can be enthusiastic about a new product or a feature that came out to show the customer around. Having energy will usually help to make the customer also feel good about their experience at your store.
Building rapport is an extremely powerful tool, and this is one of the most important steps when you are making a sale. Rapport can be built simply by showing interest, asking simple questions, or remembering their names if the customer comes in again. Be sure to master this powerful sales tool to increase profits at your store.
Step 3: Listen to Your Customers
After you have built up rapport with the customer, it is now critical to understand to their needs by listening to them. Ask your customer why they have come into the store, and what exactly their needs are. Ask questions to isolate the issue and determine the customer's need. The customer may have come into the store to activate new service, service existing service, upgrade equipment, get add-ons, get accessories, or change their phone features.
Understand their needs by asking open ended questions. As you understand their needs, try to qualify them to some of the products and services you offer.
Here are some examples of open ended questions you can use.
- Who is your current wireless service provider?
- Who else in your family may need a phone?
- Who do you call the most?
- What is the most important thing you're looking for in a cell phone company?
- What kind of work do you do?
- What kind of service have you had in the past?
- What style phone are you looking for?
- What kinds of features are you currently looking for?
- When do you make most of your calls?
- When did you start your current plan of service?
- When do you use the phone the least?
- Where will you use your phone the most?
- Where do you travel often to?
- Why is that important to you?
- Why are you considering getting a new phone?
- How often will you use your phone?
- How often do you travel?
- How many minutes do you have on your current plan?
- How many minutes do you use per month?
- How many calls a day do you make?
- How often do you use the Internet with your phone?
- How would you like to organize your appointments?
You can also use closed ended questions with your customers to understand their needs. Closed ended questions are usually "yes or no" questions, so they do not give you much room to build rapport with your customers. We recommend starting with the open ended questions, and then go into the closed ended questions as you progress through the sales process.
- Do you use your phone for personal or business?
- Do you want to get a BlackBerry plan?
- Do you have a home phone?
- Do you access the Internet or email on your phone?
- Do you have a high text message charge each month?
- Do you use a laptop frequently?
- Do you currently have a PDA or a BlackBerry?
- Do you use your phone in the car?
- Do you know about this new service?
- Do you want to know about our new service?
- Do you know about this month's specials?
Regardless, in this step, it is critical that you ask good questions and listen to your customers to help identify the issue and understand their needs.
Step 4: Educate your Customers
The next step in the retail sales process is to educate your customers on some of the services and products you offer. After building rapport and understanding the customer's needs, it is now your turn to speak out to educate your customer about some of the newest offering you offer at your store.
Here product knowledge and employee training play a key role. With rapidly changing technology, most consumers cannot keep up with some of the new and convenient services that the carriers are now offering. It is going to be your job to educate your customers about the services currently being offered.
Based on your understanding of the customer's needs start educating your customers on the following points:
- The latest handsets that may be of interest to them
- The latest plans that maybe of interest to them
- The latest features and data plan packages available and its benefits
- The latest deals that either you or the carrier is offering
- The latest Smart Phones and BlackBerry devices and its benefits
- Secrets such as getting a new number will mean getting a better deal on a phone
- The process involved in porting a number and how easy it can be
- The benefits of porting and how it will mean getting them a better deal
- The benefits of insurance and how that is a value added service solely to the customer
- The benefits of getting a wireless Internet device
- The benefits of getting a device that is able to tether on to a laptop for high speed Internet
- Coverage area of the phone and how many people are in the network
Points like these are not common knowledge, and you will need to educate your customers so that they can figure out what the best solutions for them are at the current time. Again, with increased technology and competition, carriers are constantly coming up with cheaper, faster, and better deals all of the time. You will need to keep up the pace alongside the carriers on the new phones and plans that they offer, and educate your customers about it.
Step 5: Sell
After you have gone through the steps above, it is finally time to start selling your service. Prior to you making the sale, look for buying signals to see that your customer is interested in the products that you showed. Buying signals are verbal or non-verbal messages that the customers show which indicate interest in the product or service that you have educated them on. Common buying signals are the following:
- Wow, that is a nice phone.
- My girlfriend will love this.
- I like this phone.
- That's a great deal!
- Can I get this in a different color?
- It's free after rebate?
- Can I get a case for this phone here?
- Nodding of the head
- Looking at the phone closely for its specs and demonstration
Upon acknowledging the customer's buying signals, it is now time to start closing on your customers.
Closing techniques are one questions or comments made by you to move the customer into making the next step, which is to purchase the service from you. This is done by using assumptive language with the presumption that the customer wants to purchase the phone from you. Assumptive language questions that can be used are the following:
- Which one of these products will work better for you?
- Which one of these phones should I go get for you?
- Should I start you off with this service?
- Do you want to start using your phone today?
- So, I should go get this phone in black?
Asking your customers with questions such as these above will help them to move forward to the next step which is actually purchasing the phone from you. It is important that you use closing techniques to close the sale so that the time you spent with the customer will be fruitful in terms of profits as well.
If you don't ask the closing questions, some customers may decide to forego the purchase today, and come back some other time for it. And when this happens, they can go into another store or buy it online instead of through you. You don't want that to happen. Be sure to master your closing techniques. This will be a technique as important as building rapport with the customer. If you can't close, you don't make the sale, and that means, you don't make any money.
Dealing with Objections
Objections are a predictable part of the sales process. Objections can actually be considered good, because it may mean that the customer is sincerely interested in the product you have to offer. The reason for the objections by your customer is that they may need to overcome certain things in order to purchase the phone for themselves. You have to understand that customers with objections are much better than customers who leave your store without speaking up or buying anything from you.
Some examples of objections are:
- I'm not sure if I'll get approved for a line with my credit.
- I don't know if I can afford that phone.
- Doesn't this carrier have bad coverage?
- All my friends use Carrier A.
- I never liked these types of phones.
- Do you have anything smaller and cheaper?
Try to overcome objections with a positive attitude. Understand what exactly what the customer's issues are. Overcome the issues by suggesting solutions that will be the best for the customer. The good thing about being an independent cell phone dealer is that you have the ability to provide a wide range of options to your customers. If one carrier's service isn't working for the customer, you can suggest another service for them which maybe of a better fit for the customer.
To overcome objections, leverage the fact that you are an independent wireless dealer that can provide solutions based on the customer's needs. Offer services that the direct channel stores cannot. Your store can offer multiple carriers' services and unique phones by offering unlocked and import phones. Anticipate certain objections and plan ahead of time on how you are going to overcome them.
Accessories and Feature Add-Ons
Once you have successfully recommended the phone and a plan to your customer, it is now time to talk a little about accessory and add-on sales.
With regards to accessory sales, it would be the best if you can create a package deal for your customers, so that the up sell becomes easy for your reps. You may want to structure it like the "Supersize it for $0.39" type of deals, where a customer can get a charger and a case for only $5-10 more. Up sell of accessories at times can become a bit difficult since the retail sales process can be relatively long in the cell phone business. Often, the customer can be tired by the end of the process, and they may forgo accessory purchase until later. You can try to entice their purchase by giving a package deal like the one described, or giving them a 25-50% discount on accessory purchase at time of activation. Give them an offer that will make it hard to refuse to make a little extra per activation. Some customers do take advantage of offers like this, and can purchase quite a few accessories on their first purchase.
With regards to feature add-ons, be sure to talk to your customers about the available features, its benefits, and the price as you talk to them about the price plan for the voice portion. Feature sales if it has to be done after all of the sale have been completed can be difficult due to the same fact that the customer will likely be tired at the end of the process. They will feel your recommendations as an up sell, and would not respond well to it. Since you cannot provide any discounts on feature add-ons, it is best to educate your customers about it as you make the sale. If you wait until the end, you will likely not make the sales. Remember, feature add-ons can easily provide you with $10-100 in extra commission, so be sure to educate your customers about features as you move forward with the sale.
Step 6: Independence
The last step in the retail sales process is independence. After thanking your customer for the purchase that they made from you, you want them to be able to service some basic needs for themselves without having to come back to you for each little problem that they may encounter. You will need to educate your customers once again on being able to self-serve some issues for themselves. Talk to your customers about the following points as you assist them to become independent.
- Activation and Prorated Charge
- Early Termination Fee
- How to Setup and Access Voice Mail
- How to Setup their Online Accounts
- Customer Service Phone Numbers
- Self Service Options that Allows to Check Minutes Used and Recent Charges
By assisting your customers to become independent, you avoid having to deal with customer service related issues after the purchase has occurred, and the customers will be happy that they can self serve most of their needs.
Also in this process, you may want to ask for referrals or provide coupons that their friends and family can use so that they can bring in other customers into your store.
Continued on to Part 4
So this page is getting pretty long again, so I'm going to start a new hub for the next section. The next section will cover how to set up your shop for business. Hope you can check it out!
Also, if interested, you can find the master dealer list here.