Column: "So what if the internet's cheaper?," argues Colin Rees

Sales trainer believes independent service still trumps discounters
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Words by Colin Rees, sales trainer to the cycle trade

Training in stores of all different types around the UK often gives me an insight into what is bothering sale staff most at any given time. At the moment, there is a huge fear of the customer saying, ‘I can get it cheaper on the internet’ as immediately, there seems to be nowhere else to go in the sales pitch.

The effect on sales people is so shattering sometimes, it can be as horrific an situation as a customer saying ‘no’ when you ask if he wants to buy the bike. Unless you have been trained how to handle that, it’s game over for lots of sales people and the only thing that goes out the door is a brochure and the customer’s promise to come back if he changes his mind – fat chance.

As with all sales objections, if they are thought about carefully beforehand, discussed and practised, there is always going to be a better outcome compared to being faced with a situation you have not thought about and need to deal with ‘on the spot’ off the top off your head with no help in sight.

So what on earth could we say to that customer that might, just might, have a chance of succeeding? In fact, there are eight possible avenues I consider worth a shot next time it happens.

1: The biggest advantage you have is, the bike is here, now, you can ride it away right now, well after we give it a final check over. The customer is probably holding the bike, stroking it, wishing it was his. In some cases, it might be a big enough factor to overcome price.

2: You provide a free safety check after six weeks, you take what you get from the internet.

3: Your bikes are assembled by trained, qualified technicians. It's a miracle if there is no self assembly element from a bike purchased online. Front forks round the right way, Sir? You may have to assemble the bike, work it out for yourself and hope you get it right. How do you get on with IKEA stuff? It will probably be a week before you ride it!

4: That means in turn, you could be jeopardising your own safety and that of others. Bikes in boxes and assembled by customers have led to serious injury.

5: I hope you have all the tools you need.

6: We are here if anything goes wrong with any product you buy from us, but you have to pay us to fix a bike from the internet.

7: Have you every tried returning an internet purchased product – it is a nightmare.

8: The bike is right here, you are holding it, you have brilliant value in this bike, we will look after it all it’s life and you can ride it away immediately.

Okay, I accept, you will want to adjust the thoughts using your own words and style and yes, it will not work every time on every product. But in common with every sales objection, if bike dealers are able to be professional and answer an objection directly, some customers will come round. You will be more successful and more confident and at the same time the store will, crucially, capture more revenue.

I have never understood why bike shop owners and other retailers do not spend time as a team, examine every possible reason for not buying a bike and train people to overcome objections. Is it not logical to suggest if every sales person can adequately answer every sales objection, there can never be a time the customer can actually get away with saying ‘no’? Sales have to go up.

Colin Rees: 07540 351530

NOTE: This article was originally published in BikeBiz in 2011.

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