Myopia is a condition in which visual images come to a focus. Let us tweak this a little. Today, the visual images of retail as sales strategy will be examined as “productivity essentials” with depths from multiple perspectives.
We will be discussing retail from the point of view of the value-adding entrepreneur with his trail blazing, innovative, problem-solving and passionate approach.
Retail is the sale of goods directly to the consumer. This business model is designed to move value-adding products or services (“must have products”) to the “door steps” of consumers. Fast and sustainable growth is achieved through well thought-through strategies for the sale of products or services, with compelling value. The value must be compelling enough to pass through the “must have” test, the “wow-factor.” The retail multi-dimensional value-adding model is well-focused and surely drives expected sales.
Mutual Benefits Group, an insurance conglomerate has successfully over the years, been running unique retail activities in its expansive specially designated Retail Plaza situated in Lagos Mainland, Nigeria. The company has not only created massive employment for graduates of Nigerian Universities, a “troop” of over 5,000 trained marketers (nationwide) with valuable experience, create ideas, consistently test the waters of retail selling (experimentation) and with doggedness and tenacity, achieve team goals. The growth teams have weekly meetings in the plaza for guidance on specialized retail sales and to also, smoothen rough edges.
Basically, the value management of this business is to generate demand for compulsory and tailor-made insurance services at the right price, right value and delivered at the right time and the right place. An additional key methodology is the unique compounding value of retention. The longer the business retained its customers, the more opportunity to earn additional revenue from them, renewals and of course, generating inflows through word-of-mouth.
Another leg of this value delivering initiative is the “franchise” arrangement which was creatively designed for retired civil servants, private sector players and members of the armed forces. These retired but not tired citizens, leverage their reach in terms of friends and colleagues, to “retail” insurance values.
The business drivers are Innovative and creative consumer-focused selling, generating income at the bottom of the pyramid, achieving customer convenience (unique appropriateness of value at “doorsteps” or a click) by well-trained and competent marketers, value delivering relationships, personal dealing and quality depth-collaboration with customers, tracking and catering adequately for changing customer habits, the multichannel rapport approach, market segmentation and differentiation for competitive advantage.
Growth strategies and levers: The retail strategy delivers highly beneficial values to customers through value innovation, creating new markets, looking beyond functional and emotional appeal to customers, focus on key factors that cause customers to switch from insurance to commercial banks’ similar values and self-insurance, affordable services that perform quality functions and utility, efficiency and scalability to combine the best part of alternative services, tapping into hidden values by diligently analysing and studying customers’ lives and livelihood, solving the riddle on why customers trade up to buy more, or trade down to buy cheaper options, utilise influencers and growth partners, study trends for adaptation and creativity.
Enthusiasm of sales team: Dale Carnegie noted that “loudness does not equal enthusiasm nor does pounding on the table, or jumping up and down.” Genuine enthusiasm drives the power for positive energy, commitment and “can do” spirit. It grows passion and more powerful than cold ideas. The sales team leader (team’s very humble commander) must radiate genuine enthusiasm to drive positive followership and all-hands-on-deck productivity.
Psychology of ethical persuasion: The principles behind this include reciprocity, friendship that engenders trust, commitment and consistency, social proof (use credible and trustworthy people for endorsements).
Buyer types: To succeed in retail sales, you must appreciate the fact that people buy for their own reasons. So, do not treat them the same way. There are cheap buyers who are always looking for discounts. Even when they are making online purchases, they search for deals. If you tell them your product or service is good, they conclude that your price must be expensive. Always assure them that they are getting a deal. Another category is the difficult buyers. They go the extra mile before making their purchases. You must therefore furnish them with useful and detailed information about beneficial values. Sophisticated buyers (another category), must be guided to arrive at their own positive conclusions. Tell them the unique benefits and also consistently build trust. Affluent buyers (the fourth category), buy feelings, emotions and convenience. They want luxury. Lastly, cautious buyers carefully and usually, follow the lead of credible and knowledgeable experts.
Effective communication: Albert Einstein pointed out that “If you cannot explain it simply, it means you do not understand it well enough.” Effective communication is achieved when information is clearly received. Misunderstanding can lead to loss of relationships. Humility and trust are very critical to effective communication. You must listen to opposing viewpoints and answer intriguing questions without complaining. Also, you must definitely be trustworthy otherwise, your words will fall on deaf ears and you will not make the necessary inroad for sales.
Creating customer community: An essential powerful and compelling new vision for growth in retail selling is the creation of customer community. The customer community keeps your retail strategy focused on vital customers. So creating it is maximising your return on relationship (ROR). It is the hidden wealth that enables focus on customer issues and at the same time, increase productivity as well as profitability. Members of your customer community will prospect for you and, at the same time speed up the adoption of your values. They improve customers’ satisfaction and also, sustainable long term loyalty.
The MOAT: Let me conclude with the MOAT, the brand defensive dynamics and mechanism. You must assiduously work hard and beneficially provide against competitors’ substitution. The brand positioning must be such that, with the multi-dimensional value-adding model, we can, to a very great extent, safeguard our unique and highly beneficial values from competitive forces.
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