Rarely will you have met two people as brilliant at what they do as Wendy and Gary. Wendy is the most consistent salesperson you’ve ever seen. She never comes on the job with a hangover, she treats every customer exactly the same, she will do exactly what you tell her and she will do it time and time and time again without question, favour or deviation.
Gary is an old-school manager. He walks the beat. He talks to the customers, reviews how your sales staff are performing and is constantly making notes about how customers behave, how your salespeople react, what makes your customers buy, and why some of your customers walk away. His notepad contains a wealth of priceless information which will help you sell more stuff. He keeps an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly note of actual sales versus targeted sales. He knows what proportion of customers who come into your shop buy something. He will alert you if you are having a particularly good sales day or a particularly bad one.
And the best bit of all? Wendy and Gary both work for you.
Wendy is your website and Gary is your Google Analytics. Just as you reward your highest-performing staff, make sure they get rewarded for their efforts. But not with commission and bonuses; rather reward them by showering them with time and attention.
If Gary and Wendy worked in your office, and not online, I bet you would simply find it impossible to believe your luck that you had one employee who did exactly what you wanted them to do and another who was completely plugged into what made your customers buy. You would stalk Gary every working minute you had to get more information out of him to make sure Wendy would sell more stuff. And slowly but surely, day by day, you would make Wendy more and more effective, until eventually she was a near-perfect salesperson.
The web is an exciting and innovative place; it’s likely it is responsible for the greatest innovations we will see in our lifetime. And yet what is often unspoken is that many of the web pioneers have got to where they are by evolution not revolution. Amazon looks not a whole lot different than it did when it launched in the 1990s, ditto eBay has had limited major upheaval and change.
The reason? Because in such organisations Gary is king and Wendy is queen. They are worshipped, obsessed upon, indulged and their every word is gospel.
In the real world it’s always immediately evident to customers when Gary is working.
There is a shoe shop near the Irish north coast, where a real-life Gary prowls the beat. He is a formidable operator, whose mere presence visibly keeps his hard-working staff in check. When buying shoes for kids, children and parents don’t leave the store without Gary personally squeezing the shoes to make sure that there is enough space for growing children’s feet for the next school term. Gary is sure to ask how the experience has been for customers and if there’s anything more he can do to help. Despite the recession, this shop, which sells shoes well away from the lower end of the market is so busy at certain times that it has to operate a ticketing system to manage the volume of customers. To buy something in the shop is to experience a sales and marketing masterclass first hand.
All of us have the opportunity to delight our customers online to the same extent, by selling well, by observing closely how they act, and by committing to a cycle of evolutionary self-improvement.
The starting point for this is to reintroduce yourself to the best workers you’ve ever employed.
Gareth Dunlop owns and runs Fathom, a user-experience consultancy which helps ambitious organisations get the most from their website and internet marketing by viewing the world from the perspective of their customers. Specialist areas include user testing, usability and customer journey planning, web accessibility and integrated online marketing. Clients include the Irish Internet Association, The Irish Times, Ogilvy, MD Golf and Dublin Institute of Technology.
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