Make more sales with a smile

I am passionate about the importance of customer service and the huge difference this can make to small business success. So many local traders get this right but there are still so many that get it so horribly wrong.

This past weekend I went to a local food fair. The fair was packed and the producers, without exception, had some fabulous products on sale. I could easily have spent a small fortune and purchased something from each and every one of them.

But the difference in customer service was quite marked.

As I went around, there were the stall holders that smiled as I went by and exchanged pleasantries and light hearted banter without trying to hard sell me. There were those that offered a free tasting (always a winner in my book) but without making feel me feel as though I had to buy.

There was the fish man who was cooking up a great pan of mussels and as I walked by told me I looked cold so gave me a dish full to eat as I walked round and to keep my hand warm by holding the bowl. The mussels were gorgeous and after I had walked around the show I went back to him and bought some fish.

Customer service begins with a smile.

There was the lady selling home made Christmas puddings. She offered me a leaflet whilst engaging in general conversation about Christmas dinner. She then gave me a taster as I was leaving her stall. She made me feel welcome and that she was interested in me and so I went back and purchased from her.

Then there was the chap selling wine who seemed to be only giving tasters to his own family. Last year at the fair I purchased 2 cases of wine from him. This year, as he left me standing there feeling like an idiot, I purchased nothing from him.

There was the chocolatier, whose cake I desperately wanted to purchase. I was completely ignored the first time I went to the stall but gave him the benefit of the doubt and returned again. This time I had my husband by my side and we were discussing how much we liked the cake and wondered how much it cost, but we got both ignored again. I even went back a third time and found the man and his wife in conversation with another potential customer so my hopes were raised, but even though I stood there for a good 5 minutes, they made no effort to engage with me. They lost a sale!

I then went over to buy some cider (my husband lives on the stuff) but as soon as I saw the downcast face of the lady behind the stall I decided I ought to call the Samaritans to come and have a chat with her. She looked thoroughly fed up and even though I tried to start a conversation with her about the different ciders, there was nothing coming back my way. I left empty handed.

Sunday’s example reminded of when I was with a group of businesses who went to a local show in order to promote their products. Those that put a smile on their face and made a bit of effort did really well on the day. Those that stood back moaning among themselves and making no effort to go out and interact with the public failed to make the sales. They were all in the same tent. They all had the same exposure. But some left complaining bitterly that it was a waste of time and blaming everything and everyone but themselves. Others left with huge smiles on their faces and money in their pockets.

So if you are a small trader and want to make more sales with no extra expense or marketing, try smiling. Try talking to your customers as an individual person and take an interest in them. If possible, let them try a sample of your product rather than viewing them as scroungers. And if you know someone who gives exceptional customer service, let me know so I can give them a shout out.

Such a simple way to make more sales.