Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How to sell more to Peoples fans

I’ve been an Edmonton Oilers fan since they were in the WHA.  In 1984, I got a 10kt gold Stanley Cup pendant for Christmas to wear on one of my gold chains.  My faith in the Oilers has been pretty unshakable, even though there hasn’t been much to brag about since the “dynasty of 1984-1990”.

Why not forget about the Oilers and focus all of my attention on the Canucks who are now geographically my “home team?”  I’ve had a lot of fun watching the Canucks become a contender, but here’s the thing.  I don’t have any history with them.  I was at Northlands Coliseum when Wayne Gretzky signed his 20 year contract with Peter Pocklington.  I was there when they won their first Stanley Cup victory in 1984.  I walked Jasper Avenue and peacefully celebrated the first couple of cup-wins.  I felt the sting of the Gretzky trade, and I never fell off the band-wagon for one play-off-missing season during the dark-years.  I’ve sold jewellery to Glen Sather, and Grant Fuhr.  Currently, apart from Kevin Lowe, the “Oil-drop” logo and the soon to be abandon Coliseum, there are few remnants of the original team.

Okay, hockey-fans, time to leave the rink and enter the jewellery arena ---

When I briefly worked for Peoples, I noticed something strange.  Middle-aged couples would come in and buy anniversary jewellery and fondly reminisce about the People’s store where they bought their engagement ring.  Back then it was owned by the Gersteins, not Zales.  Peoples had “certified perfect diamonds” that I believe were VS1 or better and they sold Rolex watches.  The current product I had to offer was far inferior to that. The ownership, staff, product and location were all different, but the name on the front was the thing.  Some of these people where as Loyal to Peoples as I am to my Oilers.  They have history.

Take-away point #1 – Sell decent quality jewellery, service it well and stick with it for at least 20 or 30 years, and you (or whoever buys your business) will see a sudden and amazing increase in your sales when your first generation clients start their second wave of jewellery spending.  During that second wave, they’ll regain the initiative to provide referrals for more even more next-generation clients.

Take-away point #2 – if you want to sell to loyal fans of Peoples, you’ll have to bring your “A-game.”  Don’t underestimate the effect of loyalty.  You and I both know that they’re not the same company.  You need to know what they’re selling and be able to point-out the difference.  Go buy a cheap diamond heart and a pair or two from their “good, better, best” diamond studs.  Put them under a photomicroscope next to your product so that you can capture the difference in quality.  Then take them back and get a refund under the terms of their well-articulated refund/exchange/trade-up policies.  If Zales are going to air television commercials showing brilliant flawless diamonds and then stock their store with “frozen-spit”, then it’s time for us to pull-back the curtain!

Also, don’t underestimate the power of their well-documented return/exchange policies and warranties.  Some of us don’t even have a policy.  While they have some very effective salespeople, some are automatons who wouldn’t know a tourmaline from turpentine.  But, I’ll tell you what they can do: 
·      they can regurgitate features-and-benefits
·      they can talk about the glorious history of Peoples
·      they can promote their after-sale policies
·      they can sell based on credit

Most of you are selling product that is head-and-shoulders better than theirs.  If you can master the above and you’re selling better product, then why is Peoples still in business???

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