"Would you like a free makeover?"
I looked at her friendly face. The sound of her voice triggered my tingles. I definitely wanted a makeover.
I didn't notice her makeup or style. If I had, I would have seen that she wore much more makeup than I did. She wore a long skirt; an outfit that brought to mind religious zeal. Nevertheless a free makeover sounded fun.
Later, sitting on the floor of my mother's dining room, makeup samples spread around us, I felt taken. I had to put the samples on myself, Mary Kay policy. I had envisioned more of a spa day, myself lying like a dead fish while someone rubbed fresh smelling creams and exfoliaters into my skin. But I couldn't say no to this woman. By the end of the day I had an armful of products and had signed up to be a Mary Kay sales representative myself.
What I learned later was that I wasn't a salesperson. Whatever she had, I didn't have. I was too nervous to approach people. I anticipated the no and started to sweat. I've told you, I don't like approaching or talking to strangers. But if you are going to sell a product then you have to figure out how to be a seller.
Selling products online makes it a little easier for those of this with social anxiety problems. However a seller is a seller and there are many direct selling tips that can be incorporated into online businesses. As I was looking over this set of tips, I was relating them to my experience with Mary Kay, and it made me realize that they have a solid sales strategy which targets many key selling tactics.
1. Be friends with your customers
Mary Kay does this well by offering "free makeovers". The sales rep goes to the customer's house and has basically a "girly day". This creates rapport and friendship, making the customer more likely to buy something. This can work online too. For example, I have started my fan club in order to connect more with my customers. I have been a member of other online doll groups and fan clubs before and have actually made some genuine friends. Some of my online friends I have known for nearly 10 years and keep up with them as if I have known them in real life.
It is important to note here though, that you want to make genuine friendships with your customers. Some people will always just be customers. You shouldn't force or fake friendships that you don't feel, just as you shouldn't in real life. This is not as hard as it sounds though, because as I said, I have many great friendships with my customers and I am hoping my fan club will develop many more.
2. Over deliver
For those of you who buy things online you might have experienced receiving a package that has been lovingly wrapped with little gifts inside. Even small gifts like samples or stickers are delightful. Mary Kay, and most makeup companies, offer many free gifts or samples in order to make the customer feel the purchase was extra valuable. The other benefit for those companies is that the customer tries a new product and hopefully will purchase it in the future. This is a little harder for products that aren't used up, like my dolls, but the principles are the same.
I used to pack my dolls with little gifts like stickers, pencils, notepads, cards and other little things. Since I have been in Mexico I haven't been able to get my stock of little gifts together but it is on my to-do list. Basically the idea here is to go above and beyond for your customers. Make sure they are beyond delighted with their purchase. Watch this video if you are interested to see how BeBe Babies were packaged in the past (and will be again in the near future).
Another thing to note here is over delivery can also mean excellent customer service and communication. For example, ship your items the next day. If you cannot ship the item the next day tell your customer the shipping date. If you don't ship on the date you give send a follow up email to tell them what day you will be shipping. This seems like a no-brainer but many online shops do not follow this advice and it can cause worry and uncertainty for your customer. You want the entire buying process for your customer to be perfect.
Which leads me to another point. If you have an unhappy customer, go above and beyond to make it right even if it means taking a loss. If you are doing everything right, you will hardly ever have an unhappy customer (I can only remember one at the moment). And if you are doing everything right usually an unhappy customer is the result of a misunderstanding. Regardless of the reason though, do anything to make them happy. Refund the item, exchange the item, offer a free gift whatever you feel will turn their unhappy experience into a happy one.
3. Get a small yes, and you will get a yes to something bigger
Mary Kay asks if you want a free makeover. This is non-threatening because it's free and it sounds fun. Of course the ultimate strategy is that you will of course buy something at the end of the makeover. I wanted to include this tip because I have read it in several places, but I'm not exactly sure how to incorporate this into my business. Any ideas?
I have several more tips to share and analyze but I am going to stop there for today.
Here's a view of Guanajuato Mexico, which I visited recently.