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Help more, sell more

 31 July 2017     Donald Cooper 

Here’s a simple three-step process that we use with clients around the world to help them increase loyalty, sales and profitability. They pay me big bucks for this information. Here it is for free. And, it could transform your business!

Step 1: Define your business by how you ‘help’ – not by what you sell
Most businesses make the mistake of defining themselves by what they sell. “We sell computers, insurance, cars, mayonnaise or seats on airplanes.” Whatever it is they sell, that’s how they define themselves.

The problem is when we define ourselves by what we sell our focus tends to be on us and our need to sell more. It’s all about ‘us’. In order to get passionately focused on our customers, it’s far more useful to define ourselves by how we – and what we sell -- helps our target customer.

Here’s a great example. In the past year I’ve spoken at several conferences for mortgage companies. When I asked them what business they’re in, their answer was always the same: “We sell mortgages!”

Let’s look at what their business sounds like when we simply redefine it by how they help people – not by what they sell. “We’re in the business of helping people buy a home and to own that home mortgage-free as quickly, conveniently and inexpensively as possible.”

Isn’t that the mortgage company that you’d want to deal with? Why? Because they’re focused on helping you do what you want to do. A question that I love asking clients is, “Are you trying to get customers to do what you want them to do or are you committed to helping them do what they want to do?”

So, first, using the mortgage company example above for guidance, set an hour aside in the next week to sit down with some of the best minds and hearts in your business and define yourself by how you and what you sell helps your target customers, functionally, emotionally and financially.

Step 2:  Make a list of all the help your target customers need that
is in any way related to choosing, buying or using what you sell:

Now that you’ve redefined yourself by how you help, take some time to think and feel like a customer. Sit down with your team and start making a list of all the help your target customers need in order to know about you and all the value you offer, to wisely choose and effectively use what you sell…and what kind of help they need in any way related to doing business with you.

Think of what products, services, information and coaching, convenience, confidence, kindness and encouragement, payment methods or terms they might need to have a complete, successful and stress-free experience with you and with what you sell. To jump-start your creativity, consider these four simple questions:

  1. Do all of our target customers know about us and the value we offer? How can we help them know more?
  2. Functionally, emotionally and financially what are people really trying to do when they’re buying and using what we sell?
  3. What do they want or need to know to wisely choose and effectively use what we sell?
  4. How do they want to feel when they do business with us and every time they ‘use’ what they buy from us?

Step 3: How will you deliver that help better than your competitors?
Now that you know exactly what kind of help your customers need, get creative. Start thinking of how you will effectively, consistently and profitably deliver some of that help better than your competitors will.

What can you do to help them to know about your retail operation and all the value it offers? How can you help them to do what they’re trying to do? How can you help them to know what they want or need to know and what can you do to help them to feel the way they want to feel?

Think ‘WOW’. Think ‘amazing’. Think about what has never been done before. Think and feel like a customer and have the creativity and the courage to create compelling customer-owning value and experiences at every touch-point.

In my days as a retailer of ladies fashions we used this same three-step process to fundamentally re-define the customer experience. We were the first in the world to put four hooks in a change room. We offered electric reclining massage chairs for husbands, a pirate ship play area for kids and instant birthday parties for customers shopping on their birthday. We offered free drinks, free diapers, diaper wipes and cream for young mothers in distress and a magic sign that invited customers to, “Please take as many items in the change room as you wish!”

We priced merchandise honestly, didn’t manipulate customers into buying stuff that they shouldn’t and generally offered more help, more kindness, more real value than any of our competitors, most of whom told us that we were ‘nuts’. Our customers loved us, raved about us to their friends and came back over and over again.

How did we do it?  Rather than saying “we sell ladies clothing,” we defined ourselves as being in the business of helping women to look good and feel good. We took the time to think and feel like a customer. We cared passionately and we constantly asked two powerful questions: “What’s possible – and what’s next?” You can’t do everything at once, but something can always be next.

Here’s another example: the medical imaging division of General Electric sells complex and expensive MRI and other imaging equipment to hospitals and medical clinics. But by understanding what life is really like for their customers, they sell more than that. They sell help. They sell financing, training and maintenance contracts. And for those customers who want a total solution, GE will install, staff and operate a complete medical imaging department on a revenue-sharing basis.

So, what kind of help does your target customer need that is in any way related to what you sell and, then what will you commit to do to deliver some of that help better than your competitors? Trust me you’ll sell more by helping more!

Stearns and Foster
MIFF 2020
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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